The Bedman Brothers Company Records collection focuses primarily on the business and financial transactions of Bedman Brothers seed company of Rahway, New Jersey, and includes accounting ledgers, purchase orders, price lists, miscellaneous business and family correspondence, and various brochures, pamphlets and leaflets related to horticultural topics. Other holdings in the collection include World War II ration stamps and two scrapbooks, one of which contains many late nineteenth and early twentieth century chromo-lithographed trade cards (primarily from the sewing, clothing, and floral industries). The other scrapbook holds news clippings from the Civil War period. Seperated materials include seed gathering equipment used by field workers.
The William Bedman Seed Company of Rahway, New Jersey was established in 1843 by William Bedman with the support of James Thorburn, a Manhattan seed purveyor. The firm, later called Bedman Brothers, was principally a wholesale mail order seed company that sold to consumer-end seed houses such as Vicks, W. Atlee Burpee, and George J. Ball. Bedman Brothers became known for its production of salvias (sage), including the development of 'Bonfire' or Clara Bedman sage variety. The company continued after William Bedman's tenure under the leadership of his sons Charles, James and John. The business ended after the death of Joseph Bedman, William's grandson, in 1962.
Assorted nursery and trade catalogs and price lists from the Bedman Brothers records were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History Library, Horticulture Trade Catalogs Collection.
Donated to the Smithsonian Office of Horticulture (later Horticulture Services Division) in 1984 by Gladys and Florence Whitehead, great-granddaughters of William Bedman.
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