The Apples of New York by Spencer Ambrose Beach (1905)
The Apples of New York, by Spencer Ambrose Beach (1905), became something of a Bible for apple growers. Beach was a horticulturist at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva and was known as the leading pomologist of his day. In two colorfully illustrated volumes, Beach provided as complete descriptions of apples has had ever been compiled before. The ample historical sections and list of references he provides for each apple described testifies to his research in both the field and in the library. Both volumes are available online from multiple sources:
One key feature of Beach's descriptions was the rating for the quality of the fruit's flesh. The rating should not be considered an overall rating of the quality of the fruit nor the tree. Many highly rated apples were not commercially viable. Key defects were shy or unreliable cropping, poor keeping, and too tender for shipping. As a result, many of the top rated apples have disappeared or been almost forgotten. Beach appears to have relied on A. J. Downing or other previous pomologists for some of the ratings, since he notes for some top rated apples that "we have not seen this variety." With that caveat, here are Beach's top rated apples:
Volume I (Winter) [24 apples]:
Best: Green Newtown and Yellow Newtown. Very Good to Best: Bullock [American Golden Russet], Esopus Spitzenburg, Hubbardston, Hunt Russet, Jonathan, Lady Sweet [not Lady, aka Api], Newark Pippin, Newtown Spitzenburg, Northern Spy, Peck Pleasant, Pomme Grise, Swaar, Swazie, Tompkins King, Wagener, Westfield Seek-No-Further. Good to Best: Red Canada
Very Good to Best (with caveats): Ellsworth [but he had not seen], Evening Party [but little grown in New York], Grimes [but generally does not develop in color, size, and quality as well in New York as in more southern latitudes]; Pryor [a southern apple not well adapted to New York], White [Winter] Pearmain [a midwest apple not recommended for planting in New York].
Volume II (Summer and Fall) [10 apples]:
Best: Summer Pearmain. Very Good to Best: Autumn Sweet Swaar; Cox Orange; Dyer; Early Joe; Gravenstein; McIntosh; Mother; Primate; Victuals and Drink
Other Historical Sources
In addition to Beach's Apples of New York, these are most important historical sources:
- William Coxe's A View of the Cultivation of Fruit Trees, and the Management of Orchards and Cider; with Accurate Descriptions of the Most Estimable Varieties of and Foreign Apples, Pears, Peaches, Plums, and Cherries, Cultivated in the Middle States of America (M. Carey and Son, 1817) was the first book published in America on apples and other fruits.
- Andrew Jackson Downing and Samuel Downing. The Fruits and Fruit-trees of America: Or, the Culture, Propagation, and Management, in the Garden and Orchard, of Fruit-Trees Generally. The first edition of this great authority came out in 1845, being the first attempt to list and describe all the varieties of fruit known in the United States. It was revised several times by his son over then next several decades. Editions available online include Darwin's copy of the 1845 edition and some of Darwin's notes; the first revised edition from 1865; a revised edition with the title Selected Fruits from Downing's Fruits and Fruit-Trees of America (1871); and the second revised edition of 1881, but published in 1900.
- Nomenclature of the Apple:
a catalogue of the known varieties referred to in American publications from 1804 to 1904. Compiled by W. H. Ragan. Washington, D.C. : U.S. G.P.O., 1905. [Bulletin No. 56. United States. Bureau of Plant Industry.] This work is the most extensive catalogue ever compiled of named varieties of apples found in North America. It includes other names the varieties were known by and has a table to record descriptions and features.
- U. P. Hedrick. Cyclopedia of Hardy Fruit. Macmillan, 1922. One the last comprehensive compilations of apples (or other fruit) with detailed descriptions. Available through Biodiversity Heritage Library, Hathi Trust, and Google Books. The section on apples was also published in 1913 with almost the same content as Apples, Old and New.
- J. A. Warder. American
pomology. Apples. New York: Orange Judd and Company, 1867. Warder was the first American pomologist to create an systematic classification of apple.
Here are other historical sources available online, mostly through Google Books or Cornell's Core Historical
Literature of Agriculture:
- John Abercrombie. The British Fruit-gardener (Dublin: 1781). The chapter on apples names 44 varieties and provides advice on grafting, pruning, storage, and other care of apples.
- Richard Lamb Allen, revised by Lewis F. Allen. New American farm book. Orange Judd, 1908.
- Charles Baker. Practical and scientific fruit culture. Lee and Shepard, 1866.
- Liberty Hyde Bailey. The
Apple Tree. New York: Macmillan, 1922. Cornell's most famous horticulturalist
expounds on the history, care, biology, and an appreciation of the apple.
- Henry Ward Beecher. Plain and pleasant talk about fruits, flowers and farming. 1st ed., 1859, & 2d ed., 1874.
apples: report of the Committee of the National Apple Congress, October
5th to 25th, 1883.
- Bliss S. Brown. Modern
fruit marketing; a complete treatise covering harvesting, packing, storing,
transporting and selling of fruit. New York : Orange Judd, 1916.
- J. L. Budd, assisted by Niels Ebbesen Hansen [who prepared the chapter on apples], American Horticultural Manual, Volume II: Systematic Pomology, 1903
- M. C. Burritt. Apple
growing. New York: Outing, 1912.
- Samuel Cole. American Fruit Book. Boston: 1849. With directions for raising fruit and descriptions of the best varieties. Cole was the grandson of the discoverer of the Cole's Quince.
- F. R. Elliott. Elliott's Fruit Book; Or, The American Fruit-grower's Guide in Orchard and Garden. C.M. Saxton, 1854.
- Ebenezer Emmons. Natural History of New York. Report on the Agriculture of New York, Volume III. Albany: 1851. Chapter Two, Varieties of Apples, is a 96 page synopsis of the varieties and descriptions of summer, autumn and winter apples.
- Essentials of fruit culture: Varieties of apples; Apple culture; Apple pests and injuries; Apple harvesting, storing, and marketing; Pear culture; Cherries, apricots, and quinces. Volume 124 of the International Library of Technology. International Textbook Company, 1913.
- James Fitz. The Southern Apple and Peach Culturist. Randolph & English, 1872.
- W. C. Flagg. "The Apple," found in the Missouri Yearbook of Agriculture: 1867 Annual Report. An essay covering the history of the apple, a discussion of various classification schemes, recommendations of varieties, and poetry. The essay, which begins on page 395, was based on a Wednesday evening address given by a distinguished and literate apple grower from Alton, Ill.
- John Clifford Folger & Samuel Mable Thomson. The commercial apple industry of North America. Macmillan, 1921.
- William Forsyth. Treatise on the Culture and Management of Fruit Trees (1802) describes 44 varieties grown in England and enumerates 60 more.
- Victor Ray Gardner, Frederick Charles Bradford, and Henry Daggett Hooker.
of Fruit Production. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1922.
- Victor Ray Gardner, Frederick Charles Bradford, and Henry Daggett Hooker.
New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1927.
- W.J. Green, Paul Thayer, and J.B. Keil. Varieties of Apples in Ohio in Bulletin of the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station, No. 290, 1915. Another version of the list is found in Dependable Fruit, Bulletin No. 313, 1917.
- Robert Hogg. British Pomology; Or, The History, Description, Classification, and Synonymes, of the Fruits and Fruit Trees of Great Britain. Vol.1, The Apple
(1851). The most complete book on the apple when it was published, it includes descriptions of 942 apples, including North American varieties.
- E. J. Hooper. Hooper's
Western fruit book: a Compendium Collection of Facts, from the Notes and
Experiences of Successful Fruit Culturists, Arranged for Practical Use in
the Orchard and Garden. Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, Keys & Co., 1857.
Note: the "western states" included
Kentucky and Ohio.
- George Jaques.A Practical Treatise on the Management of Fruit Trees; With Descriptive Lists of the Most Valuable for Cultivation; Adapted to the Interior of New England. Worcester: Tucker, 1849.
- Maurice Kains. Home Fruit Grower. Delamare, 1918.
- Granville Lowther and William Worthington. The encyclopedia of practical horticulture: a reference system of commercial horticulture, covering the practical and scientific phases of horticulture, with special reference to fruits and vegetables. Encyclopedia of horticulture corporation, 1914.
- Magness, J.R.Apple varieties and important producing sections of the United States: Farmers Bulletin No. 1883. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1941
- Robert Manning. Book of Fruits; Being a Descriptive Catalogue of the Most Valuable Varieties of the Pear, Apple, Peach, Plum & Cherry, for New England Culture: Being a Descriptive Catalogue of the Most Valuable Varieties of the Pear, Apple, Peach, Plum & Cherry, for New-England Culture. Ives & Jewett, 1838.
- Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture. Apple growing. 4th Edition. Wright & Potter [state printers]: 1913.
- Samuel Taylor Maynard. The Practical Fruit Grower. Orange Judd, 1909 (c1885).
- C.C. Newman.Notes on varieties of apple. South Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station, 1905.
- Fred Sears. Productive
orcharding: modern methods of growing and marketing fruit. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1914.
- Robert Mumford Smock and Alfred Max Neubert. Apples
and apple products. New York: Interscience, 1950. Available through Cornell's Core Historical
Literature of Agriculture.
- John P. Stewart. The Apple in Pennsylvania; Varieties, Planting, and General Care. Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station. State College, Pa., 1910 &1914.
of Ontario 1906. Toronto: Ontario Department of Agriculture, 1906.
- Michigan Fruit List, prepared by L.R. Taft for Bulletin 105 of the Michigan Horticultural Department, is included in the Annual report of the secretary of the State Horticultural Society of Michigan, 1894, starting on page 314.
- James Thacher. The American Orchardist: Or, A Practical Treatise on the Culture and Management of Apple and Other Fruit Trees. 2d Edition (1825). Includes both descriptions of apple varieties and the author's "Most Approved Method of Manufacturing and Preserving Cider."
- H. H. Thomas. The
Book of the Apple. London: J. Lane, 1902.
- John Jacob Thomas. The American Fruit Culturist. W. Wood, 1875.
- Sereno Edwards Todd. The Apple Culturist: A Complete Treatise for the Practical Pomologist. Harper & Brothers, 1871.
- Frank A. Waugh.The American apple orchard: a sketch of the practice of apple growing in North America at the beginning of the twentieth century. New York:
Orange Judd Company, 1908.
- Frank A. Waugh. Systematic pomology: treating of the description, nomenclature, and classification of fruits, 1914, c1903.
- Charles Scoon Wilson. The history of the apple in New York State. Master's Thesis, Cornell University, 1905.
- Linus Woolverton. The Canadian Apple Grower's Guide, 1910.