VERY OLD (seed samples) From Carl Von Linne's Botanical Garden any value?

Discussion in 'Plants: Science and Cultivation' started by tgeer2, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. tgeer2

    tgeer2 Member

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    I am a new member and my first time posting. Although new I have much respect for those of you that take the time to grow, learn, and appreciate the many different plant, flower and trees. I too love them. I am looking for some information that maybe someone out there can help me with. I was approached a few months back by a lady who was cleaning out her late grand parents attic, she wanted to know if I was interested in a box of old stuff. As a collector of "STUFF" I didn't hesitate and purchased after looking through it quickly. After closer inspection I came across a very old case about the size of a lunch pail with a bunch of tiny vials with which appears to be seeds inside. attached to a leather strap on the case is a tag that reads: "1920's Birch-wood Botanical gathering case and 78 botanical samples brought from Uppsala, Sweden - home of world famous Carl Von Linne's Botanical Garden, University of Uppsala, Sweden est. 1753". Each one of the small glass vial samples measure about 1 and 3/4" long and about 1/4" wide with a attached label with a name which I believe is the Latin name or Swedish name for the samples. I can tell you that these vials and case are very old maybe even older than the 1920's. I know that anyone can attach a tag and write just about anything they want but the stuff that I purchased off from this woman were some great vintage pieces. Again I am no expert but is it possible to still plant these seeds? Will anything grow? Are they worth anything? Would there be of any interest out there? By the way the birch-wood case is really neat and in wonderful condition. There is a reddish type stamp on the inside wooden hinged door but I can't make out what it reads. The inside is like a hollowed out tree with leather straps for the handle, hinges and buckle to keep the case closed. If anyone could provide me some information I would greatly appreciate it. If you think pictures would help I would be more than happy to do so. Thanks so much for taking the time to read!
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    No, they wouldn't grow now. They'll be more valuable as they are now, as museum pieces.

    A photo or two would certainly be interesting to see.
     
  3. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm with Micheal - the seed's kaput, but the value to museums, and to Linneus' garden in Uppsala itself, is staggering. You might try contacting the gardens to find out more about the history of the pieces.

    I'd love to see photos as well.
     
  4. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Yes please post some photo's.

    Michael and Lorax wondering how you conclusively state that the seeds will not be viable. References or experience?


    Gil
     
  5. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Experience. I had some seeds passed on to me by my great-great grandmother, which were old even for her (we figure they were harvested around the turn of the century) and for giggles we tried planting them. They´d been stored properly, in a cool dry place and all that. Not viable.
     
  6. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    In 2005, Elaine Solowey, desert agriculture expert and director of an experimental orchard at Kibbutz Katura in Israel, germinated a date palm seed that had been excavated at Masada in 1973. Carbon dating indicated that the seed was 2,000 years old.
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    In highly exceptional circumstances.
     
  8. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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  9. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    tgeer, let me belatedly say Welcome! to you. This forum is outstanding, and you will enjoy it. ---I think that your find is worthy of PBS' "Antiques Road Show"! Exciting stuff. I further think that the folks at the University of Uppsala would be thrilled to know about this. Why not fire off an email and see what happens?
     
  10. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Just looked up the University of Uppsala:
    http://www.linnaeus.uu.se./LTeng.html

    On this page there is an email address:
    linnaeus.garden@linnaeus.uu.se

    Write to these folk and let them know what you've got! I daresay that they can tell you a few things about your treasure. Yeah, I know, I'm not gonna hitch a ride to Syracuse and MAKE you do this---but I think it would be a great thing for botanical history. How did this case come to be in this particular attic? Who acquired it and why? Wow---a great human interest as well as botanical story! I'm serious about that "Antiques Roadshow" thing, too.
     
  11. Linnaea borealis

    Linnaea borealis Member

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    Hi,
    it would be very interesting to see photos of which species the packet contains and the look of the container and vials as well.
    The seeds are probably not germinating now but anyhow it is interesting anyway.
    It depend on which species we are talking about, how they have been stored etc.
    Did you get the history about how the seeds came into the possession of the lady's grandparents?
    What link did they have to the garden in Uppsala? Were they botanists, scientists or? Are there any seed envelopes within the package? Are there notations on the vials/labels where the seeds have been picked (region, biotope etc?).
    Please take some photos, I'll try to translate and evaluate what you've recieved from the lady.

    best regards
    from Uppsala and Linnaeus's Garden
     
  12. tgeer2

    tgeer2 Member

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    Hi
    I will be posting pictures soon and will be doing a little more research. Thanks for your input!
     
  13. tgeer2

    tgeer2 Member

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    Hi
    Very interesting and amazing that they can actually germinate seeds after that many years. I am doing more research and keep a eye out for the pictures I will be posting soon. THanks
     
  14. tgeer2

    tgeer2 Member

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    Hi
    Thanks so much for your input along with everyone else. I wish I was able to get a hold of the lady whom I bought these from but I have no way unless I bump into her which may be possible because she does live locally I believe. It was a quick transaction and I was only able to talk with her for a few minutes. As I think back she also had pieces of old pottery not from the US but somewhere in Europe. I wish I knew more but many of the things are purchased in this large box was from around the world. I will be posting pictures and I will ask my fiancee' if she remembers anything from the conversation we had with this lady. Thanks so much for your help.
     
  15. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Keep us informed---I am fascinated with this story! If I were a writer or journalist in Syracuse, I would be thrilled to investigate. Most, most cool!
     
  16. tgeer2

    tgeer2 Member

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    Hi
    Sorry for the delay! Here are the pictures I promised. I don't know how good they came out so if there are any questions give me a shout. Each one of the vials has a label and the name written in pencil. I also took a picture of the inside cover of the birch-wood case, which has a red stamp that I can't quite make out what it says. Please give me some feedback on what you think. THanks so much.
     

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  17. Silver surfer

    Silver surfer Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    tgeer2, Thank you for posting the pics. This thread has been really interesting, what an amazing find. Hope you find a suitable "home" for the collection, it would be good to see it preserved for future generations to appreciate.
     
  18. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Incredibly, massively cool!!!!! Oh, how this needs to be in a museum! Please get this beautiful collection to Sweden! Contact your local paper---this is a story of a lifetime. TV news too! What a gorgeous artifact: each piece individually, as well as all of it together. WOW!!!!!!
     
  19. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    wow!!! what an absolutely beautiful case...and the seeds - they look to be in fabulous condition (most anyway).

    oh, what a find!! collector's piece and/or museum piece. worth much more than what you paid for that box of 'stuff' !!

    i'll bet some of the seeds WOULD germinate...
     
  20. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    I bet that a call or email to The Post-Standard or Channel 5 and/or 9 would provide eager journalistic assistance in your research! SUNY (Syracuse) has a dep't. of Environmental Science and Forestry...And DO talk to your fiancee---see if she remembers any relevant detail---and DO try to track down the lady from whom you got this magnificent collection. Any worthy journalist would be a great asset in this investigation!

    Thanks for the photos. Magnificent!---in both composition and condition. Again...WOW!!!!!!
     
  21. tgeer2

    tgeer2 Member

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    Hi,
    Thanks to all that have looked or replied to this thread. I am still gathering information and facts from people before I make any decisions on what to do with these samples. I agree with all of you that these need to be preserved and if worthy to be placed in a museum for people to see, learn, and appreciate. I have written e-mails to the University of Uppsala in Sweden to see if they can identify the vials or the gathering case and just maybe the writing on the inside of the case. I just want to make sure I have as much knowledge before I start calling people to help me further investigate these seed samples. I appreciate all the advice and knowledge you have given me so far and if you have more please post. If I do decide to contact the media or museums in the future I will contact each one of you to see if it would be alright to use any or some of the information that you have provided in this thread. Again thanks very much and Happy Holidays.
    Tom
     
  22. Linnaea borealis

    Linnaea borealis Member

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    Hi,
    Happy holidays to all of you!
    After the holidays, we will be able to give you some interesting information about the seed-vials/seeds and probably something about the gathering case.
    All the best from
    Uppsala & Linnaeus's garden
     
  23. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Very cool -- please do keep us informed about the ongoing story.
     
  24. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Whether your seeds will or will not germinate, the actual truth is that no one (at least on this forum) knows for absolutely sure if they will or will not germinate. The chances are greater that the seeds will not germinate, then that the seeds will germinate. As Michael writes, the seeds could possibly have a high museum value. If they were my seeds, I would find an expert in this manner, and follow his instructions. If in the event that I donated such seeds to a horticultural interest, or museum for their display, whether temporary or permanent, I would retain the legal ownership of the seeds. I am not sure what amount of interest, that a museum would have, or even might not have, in 100 year old seeds. - Millet
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008
  25. tgeer2

    tgeer2 Member

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    Good advice Millet! I have been in contact with Lena Hansson from Uppsala & Linnaeus's garden in Sweden. I have tried to decipher the writing on the outside of the vials and forwarded all that information to Lena Hansson (she has already been a great help). With the writing being in both Swedish and Latin and written very small on the labels its been a pretty hard task for me. I know that anyone with a bit more knowledge than me could just name them all off without too much difficulty. I am now waiting for her to contact me with her findings. My next step will be to contact Cornell University and to see if they would like to investigate to see how old these "seeds" really are. I guess they could do carbon dating, they may be much older than 100 years. Cornell isn't very far from where I live and I know a few people who could help me. Once I get some facts and additional information from experts I will be asking people like yourself and anyone who has read this thread for feedback on where and what to do with these seed specimens so other people could enjoy. Hopefully soon we will have more information and I will post.
    Thanks
     

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