History of Apples in Canada & USA

Have you all seen this? Awesome but expensive…


If I were not moving I would buy it. :heart::heart::heart:

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My copy arrived today, in a surprisingly heavy box. As my very nice wife bought it for me as a birthday gift, I’m going to grit my teeth and wait a month and a half for the actual occasion before opening it. Wish me luck.


When someone cracks this open I’d like to hear what you think … so far I have balked at the price tag, but its going to be a long winter and a big fruit tome would go down very well indeed…


At least you will still have time to order scions from GRIN


Any comments on this book? I would love to order it but like Scott the price tag is high, but I would buy it if it gets some good reviews.

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I finally got to crack open the box and have a look at my set a few days ago.

As the name suggests, Bussey and Whealy intended this to be an exhaustive historical reference for North American apples (though 2000). They took great pains to collect alternate variety names, and to tie pre- and post-APS-abbreviated names together. When available, the identifying characteristics and details provided are extensive. No line drawings or photographs are present, but 1400 excellent full-page plates from the USDA’s pomological paintings collection are included. The sample shown in their brochure is representative.

In addition to serving as a reference, it’s the kind of thing you’d sit down and page through randomly when you had a little time. That’s what I’ve been doing, anyway. It’s rather like a much-expanded version of Calhoun’s indispensable Old Southern Apples, perhaps crossed with Seed Savers’ Fruit, Berry and Nut Inventory. The books are beautifully bound and printed in the US.

It’s not aimed at or appropriate for a general audience, but if you have an interest in apple history or just a bad case of the apple bug, I think you’d enjoy it. I’m finding it fascinating, and while it’s expensive, I expect that I’ll continue to browse it and refer to it for many years. I recommend it to the hard-core apple enthusiasts among you.


I’d love it if they ever choose to sell one book at a time…Just in case they’re “listening”.

I checked the site out, it’s a very nice looking compendium. It is indeed very thoughtful of your wife to give you such a nice gift.

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Yep, she’s definitely a keeper.

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It is a great compilation of a lot of books all into one. Dan did a great job of putting these books together. I commend him so much for doing these books. He did us all a great service. I was anxious to see how these would turn out.
I would really like to find some of these old varieties that have been “lost” over the years. Some sound like they would really be good. Oh well, at least some of us here have taken steps to grow some of the really old varieties to keep them going.

I’m going to try and see if my local library would buy a set of these. It would be nice to have them available so others would see them. Perhaps even spark their interest in growing some heirloom apple tree varieties.

Its the dead of winter here, 7F this morning (thats usually as cold as it gets in a given year here, for you northerners). A few weeks ago I decided I needed some winter reading and sprung for Bussey’s book and it showed up a few days ago.

My favorite thing about this set is the USDA watercolors, wow, what amazing prints! I have seen many of these before as quite a few have been scanned, but it was only a small selection of the watercolors. Its amazing to see all the different apples over the years. There is also something that puts a tingle up my spine to see an old apple I have grown myself and someone painting a picture which is a dead ringer of it over 100 years ago. Lady Sweet and Margil for example completely capture the spirit of those varieties.

The listings themselves are incredibly complete, but I have to say I’m disappointed in them. It is really not more than an appending of the various original sources and of the apples I already knew about I learned almost nothing new. For example, fruits that had long descriptions of shape, seeds, etc in Apples of NY have the same long descriptions here, but apples after these old classic books usually have no such description. So its not uniformly helpful for apple hunters. Similar for pictures, its a spotty collection of what was in the USDA collection. There is also no indication of whether an apple is known today or may be extinct. Also while he has a great many sources he seems to be Internet-adverse and could have easily found more simply by searching a bit. For example his listing of Katharine has missed the fact that Etter bred the apple. The Geneva rootstock listings only include the older ones, I expect because that was all that was in whatever source he used. In the intro he has mentioned he has intentionally avoided many sources because he is not sure of the authenticity, but he made a huge mistake there - its like a scientist has a huge pile of somewhat noisy data and a little pile of less noisy data and they ignore the big pile – you don’t do that, you take all the data but require multiple consistent answers from the more noisy pile. In general his views are stuck circa 1900, the book has no digital searchable version, it adds nothing to apple classification in terms of shape, seeds, etc so you can search for what you are looking for, etc. There are also a massive number of errors an editor should have caught. That is not so surprising to me as the Fruit and Nut Inventory books had the same sloppy editing and its the same person. My last peeve about the books is he follows the universally-agreed stupid naming convention of the APS, where apples are given shorter names. My view of those shorter names is some scholars wanted to “pee all over” apple names to mark them, and got together and had a great big pee-fest. Fortunately most people realized what was going on and didn’t adopt their names. Its good they didn’t and the book shows why – for example Nelson Sweet was officially shortened to “Nelson” but the book now has four different “Nelson” apples.

Anyway, these listings are still very useful as its a very good one place to start, along with the old classics compiled it includes additionally the British and southern (Calhoun) sources as well as some more recent stuff beyond the classic English-language books. I confess I’m a bit cranky now about this, for $350 I was expecting something better.


Scott, thanks for the review, do you have a book that you think offers a better bang for the buck as far as comprehensive listings of apples? I was thinking of springing for the Joan Morgan book as it seems to contain a lot of info, but would love your opinion.

Honestly today I find a Google search works pretty well in terms of quickly getting info. The Morgan book is excellent but its UK not US so is not a perfect match. Still, in terms of a combination of completeness and correctness and price it might be the best single book to get. Also definitely get the TXT file versions of Apples of NY and the other classics - you can search through them on your computer and get much quicker access. Here for example is volume I of AoNY: The apples of New York : Beach, S. A. (Spencer Ambrose), 1860-1922 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive - click on TXT on the right. I have TXT versions of dozens of these classic fruit books on my computer.


The PDF versions of “Apples/Peaches/etc. of NY” books are all searchable as well. Personally, I prefer them to TXT.

Thats a good point. When I started the pdfs with pictures were too slow to page through and the files were big, and many of the early pdfs were not searchable. But these days there is not so much problem on these fronts. I have both versions on my computer but I still usually use the txt since they are still a bit faster to load and search.

BTW the general resources page at

lists historical books online toward the end … that list is not very complete but still better than nothing.

I have lost myself in the pages of those archives, it is amazing what you can find. Thanks for the link.

Dan did the time consuming job of compiling all the old books and articles together in one place. I commend him so much for doing this and taking many, many years to do such. It may have even cost him much more in the process. To me it is well worth the price of the books to have all in one place without having to Google anything. Just look it up in one of these great books. The pictures in the book are a lot better than anything you can see on your computer screen. I can take a book to the auto shop and read for a few hours rather than drag my computer there. When I am in a car I can read as I wait on someone to shop. I cannot do that very well trying to read a 3 inch screen on my phone. I knew what the books included when they were published. I had been in contact with Dan some years before they were actually printed. He was working on them while still working a full time job. LOTS of dedication to get this information all together. A big kudos to Dan for his hard work.


Yes I hope I don’t sound like I’m ragging on Dan too much, its still an amazing effort. Maybe once I recover from the sticker shock I’ll start to appreciate it more.

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