Human Flower Project

Flower Seed Factory


One more indication of how things – including human-flower culture – have changed in the past century: Hide the factory!

How many products today are marketed with images of the factory or industrial work behind them? We can’t think of one. There might be a nice portrait of one worker at a sewing machine or on an assembly line (smiling, of course) but nothing that demonstrates how the multiple gears of industrial manufacturing work or the interlocking tasks of people within that system. Our contemporary culture of the expressive individual would be bored, confused—even repulsed.

Not in the late 19th century. At least William Henry Maule didn’t think so. Here’s the cover of his 1892 seed catalogue with a fascinating schematic drawing of his Philadelphia seed company’s inner workings. Human figures are antlike, rolling barrels and dollies, packing seed, shuffling items through the mailroom.

The catalogue is one of many in the Smithsonian Institution’s collection. For a bigger version, click here.

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Cover of seed catalogue from Wm Henry Maule, 1892

Image: Smithsonian Institution





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