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Historical background information for varieties handed down from bygone days.

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Old July 5, 2015   #61
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Oregon
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'Paragon' was released in 1870 and is attributed to being the first stabile, smooth skinned named variety, and survives to this day:

Dexter Ferry is a seedsman of merit as well ( . . . many releases under his belt, but for the pioneering work Livingston did with tomatoes, he is recognized as the father of the modern tomato industry.
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Old July 5, 2015   #62
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Oregon
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Originally Posted by stevenkh1 View Post
I wonder how many of today's "heirlooms" are actually renamed tomatoes from the olden days...?
Very likely a huge number of them! But this is not a new phenomenon. As Carolyn has already described, seed companies got very competitive, some downright shady, and seemed to have no remorse for taking a variety, renaming it with their own monkier, and marketing it.

This led to tons of confusion in the marketplace. Some companies, like Livingston, tried to curb what we would now call "theft of intellectual property" by using the trademark system in the U.S. (Patenting of life and PVP protections were a century away).

If you look through old seed catalogs, you will see many merchants selling 'Beauty', for example. But you could only purchase Livingston's True Blue® brand 'Beauty' from Livingston.

This confusion in the marketplace eventually led to the Federal Seed Act and renaming of cultivars became illegal. Did it stop the problem? Of course not. It still is a problem.

Back in the 1930s, there was a lot of work going on at Cornell trying to address this issue. I refer to the "Vegetables of New York" series. The effort was taken to grow out everything available for comparison and to determine what varieties were synonymous. Sadly, economic times and war killed funding and the series was never completed.

As far as the mess that exists today . . . It is a sore point with me. I manage a tomato variety database at another website (I am not sure if I am allowed to mention other resources here. If someone can clarify, I will post a link.) It seems that everyone and their dog has become a tomato "breeder" and the flood of "new" varieties is not slowing. Sadly, many are being renamed, invented, are unstable hybrids, and usually not possessing any unique attributes warranting "introduction" of yet another variety other than to stroke the ego of the person responsible.

I have even read threads here at Tomatoville in the past where a person will find some unlabeled seeds in their closet, not know what they are, and instead of throwing them away as the rational person would do, they give them a name and distribute them. And a duplicate of some existing variety is born!

Thankfully, I don't get caught up in any of that mess professionally as we focus on maintaining old, established varieties. For the most part anyway. We also do get interesting finds, real family heirlooms, from reputable sources like Andrey, Carolyn, Craig, Randy, etc. But again, they fall into the category of interesting and unique and worthy of preservation.

Stepping off of my soapbox, I will get back to work.
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Old July 5, 2015   #63
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Yes indeed

Last edited by stevenkh1; July 6, 2015 at 02:29 AM. Reason: My rambling does not make good dialog!
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