Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book of the Day: a 1906 orange that looks good enough to eat

Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1906. (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907). Hardcover, blue cloth boards, sun fade across the bottom fifth of the front cover but otherwise, remarkably clean, unmarked pages. Solid binding and cover condition w/silver gilt titles.  Debossed seal of the Department centered on the front cover.

A mainstay of American life for almost a century and a  half, the Ag Department yearbook began before 1862 as the Annual Agricultural Report was published in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents.

The Department of Agriculture was established in 1862 and was administered by a Commissioner until 1889.  At that time, the Department was enlarged and the Commissioner's office became the Secretary of Agriculture.

From 1862 to 1893, the newly formed Department of Agriculture began issuing its own annual report in one volume.  Starting in 1894, the annual report encompassed two volumes: one for the Secretary's and other executive reports and one for the Yearbook of Agriculture.

The Yearbook began in 1894 as the second volume of the Annual Report of the Secretary of Agriculture and reviewed developments in agriculture over the prior year. Until 1936 the Yearbook contained this summary report as well as "unrelated articles on current agricultural research or study" as well as statistical tables.  From 1936 on, the series changed, focusing each volume on a single topic of interest and addressing the volumes to the American public, initially to farmers and in more recent decades, to American consumers.

Congress ended funding for the agriculture yearbooks in 1992. The USDA produced a volume called the "Agricultural Fact Book" starting for the year 1996 but it too was discontinued in 2002.  The Agricultural Fact Book was described as, "a handy reference tool that offers information about U.S. Agriculture and describes all USDA programs.”

The 1906 volume’s articles include tips on Birds That Eat Scale Insects, The Game-Warden of Today, Nuts and Their Uses As Food, Promising New Fruits, and “Cloud-Bursts, So-Called.”
1st. Hardcover. Very Good/No Jacket. 43 Illus. by Color & b&w, and 23 charts. HBB price: $20.

Plate XVII: The Colman Citrange, Natural Size, by E.J. Schott

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