My newly published Fruit: From the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection (Abbeville Press, 2022), now available here as well as from the usual sources, is a fusion of art, science and history in a 4.4” x 4.7” hardcover volume of 288 pages.Tiny Folio book cover The pocket-sized folio is like a miniature coffee table book, a celebration of fruit-growing in an earlier America with a wealth of historical context and scientific information. The first half of the book is devoted to a range of apple varieties, many with unfamiliar and quaint names; most of these cultivars now lost to time. Subsequent chapters cover pears and other pomes, stone fruits, citrus, berries and miscellaneous fruits such as avocados, pomegranates, persimmons and nuts.

Here are some details:

Between 1886 and 1942, the US Department of Agriculture employed a total of 20 artists, mostly women, to paint watercolors of various fruit varieties. The seventy-five hundred luscious watercolors were used for educational and promotional purposes. And they are beautiful.

I selected 250 of the watercolors for their beauty, historical interest, and/or quaintness, and compiled them into this tiny folio. Would you reach for a Peasgood Nonesuch or Peck’s Pleasant apple, a Neva Myss peach, or (dare one say it?) a Nun’s Thigh pear from a supermarket shelf? 

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