Birth of United Fruit Company

From Conquest of the Tropics by Frederick Upham Adams

Chapter VI – Birth of the United Fruit Company

Only those who have lived in the tropic and are familiar with the hazards which confront the cultivation and marketing of its fruits can readily understand the motives which impelled a union of the interests of the Boston Fruit Company and those headed by Minor C. Keith.  It was not a move calculated to control competition or to rear a monopoly; it was the business step imperatively required to secure the permanency of the banana industry. 

 In 1898, the year preceding the organization of the United Fruit Company, the total importation of bananas from the American tropics did not exceed 12,000,000 bunches, or about one-fourth of those imported in 1913.  It is doubtful if any food product has shown a similar increase in any equal period in the world’s history.  The sole reason why the year 1913 did not exceed the figure of 50,000,000 bunches of imported bananas is that no more were available for shipment to the consuming sections of the United States and Europe.

 The problem in 1898 was to produce more bananas for a steadily mounting popular demand. That is the problem to-day.  The field was open to all comers in 1898.  It is open to all who care to enter it to-day.  Under such conditions the presumption that a banana monopoly ever existed, now exists, or is possible cannot be entertained by those who understand the first rudiment of the laws of business and commerce.

At the time of the organization of the United Fruit Company the following firms, corporations, and persons were engaged in importing bananas into the United States:

  •  Boston Fruit Company,
  • Tropical Trading and Transport Company, Ltd.,
  • Columbian Land Company, Ltd.,
  • Snyder Banana Company,
  • J.D. hart Company,
  • Orr & Laubenheimer Company, Ltd.,
  • Camors, McConnell & Company,
  • New Orleans Belize Royal Mail & Central American Steamship Company,
  • W.W. & C.R. Noyes,
  • John E. Kerr & Company,
  • J.H. Seward Importing & Steamship Company,
  • Aspinwall Fruit Company,
  • West Indian Fruit Company,
  • Monumental Trading Company,
  • West India Trading Company,
  • Henry Bayer & Son,
  • Camors-Weinberger Banana Company, Ltd.,
  • J.B. Cefalu & Brother,
  • S. Oteri,
  • The Bluefields Steamship Company, Ltd.,
  • W.L. Rathbun & Company.

There were undoubtedly other firms and individuals engaged in a small scale in the banana business, but the above list includes all those of consequence in the trade.  The first four were merged into the United Fruit Company.  Some of the others have retired, others have been absorbed by the companies which now compete with the United Fruit Company, but not a firm, corporation, or individual engaged in the banana business at the time of the incorporation of the united Fruit Company has failed because of the operations of that company.

Prior to 1899, the year of the formation of the United Fruit Company, there had been organized, according to the best available information, not less than 114 companies or firms which engaged in the importation of bananas to the United States.  Of this large list—as has been stated—only twenty-two of any consequence were still in existence when the United Fruit Company was formed.

Most of these banana companies were inadequately financed, and most of them were under the management of men who had no practical knowledge of the banana industry.  Few had been in business for as long a period as ten years, and most of them handled insignificant quantities of bananas.  With monotonous regularity these mushroom banana companies would spring into being, struggle along for a short time, and then drop out of existence, leaving behind no assets for their stockholders.

Such experimental banana companies still are founded, most of them with capital stock ranging from $50,000 to $200,000.  These amounts of money are sufficient to finance a banana plantation, but it is as idle to expect to become a producer, importer, and national distributor of bananas with such capital as it would be to expect to compete successfully with the Western Union and the Postal Telegraph with a new company thus financed.

When the banana industry was in its infancy there was a possibility of temporary success even with the most crude and wasteful of methods.  The cargoes were small, and it was not difficult to dispose of the fruit over the ship’s sides a few bunches at a time.  The market was largely confined to the port in which the ship docked, the prices were high, and the consumption small.

The fruit was generally secured by purchase from the native tropical planters, sometimes by contract, but more often in the open market.  Few companies, even in the late 90’s, grew any bananas on their own plantations, and when they did, these formed merely the nuclei of their cargoes, the remainder being secured by purchase.  Practically all of the importers of this early period looked to one source of supply and had only one port of entry in the United States.  In some instances, the importer simply chartered space on steamers and stored it with bananas; the more ambitious importers chartered ships, but these were of low speed and had a capacity for a comparatively small number of stem of bananas.

Arriving in the United States, the fruit was unloaded by hand, and in the early days the prospective purchasers would assemble on the wharves to secure their supplies.  Naturally, they chose their own fruit, buying as they did only a few bunches at a time. In later years, however, the importers adopted the custom of selling the fruit by “steamer run,” viz: as it came out of the steamer, declining to permit the buyer to pick out the best bunches.  Some importers had stores and ripening rooms where they could keep a portion of their fruit and sell it gradually.  What was left, after every possible local demand had been satisfied, was then shipped to various interior points usually consigned to some broker.  Sometimes the fruit was shipped a long distance, from New Orleans to Chicago, but it was not often necessary to assume such risks.

The importers knew little concerning the business as a whole; they were not familiar with the interior markets or how to reach them, and the industry in all of its departments was conducted in a wasteful and haphazard manner, the public paying their share of these blunders in high prices for bananas, and the importer paying their share in losses which generally ended in bankruptcy.

New Orleans took the first step for a business organization designed to secure a proper distribution of bananas in 1896, three years prior to the formation of the United Fruit Company.  In this year, four of the New Orleans companies formed the New Orleans Importing Company, a selling organization intended to dispose of the fruit imported by its members.  The New Orleans experiment was successful while it lasted, but jealousies and dissensions among the heads of the four companies requiring it services caused its dissolution after a few months.

 Another effort in the same direction was made early in 1899 when similar problems resulted in the formation of the Southern Banana Exchange.  Like its predecessor, it worked satisfactorily, but its usefulness was cut short in three or four months by the inability of its members to get along without friction.

The truth of the matter is, that the banana industry, prior to the formation of the United Fruit Company, had made sorry progress compared with other importing enterprises.  The Boston Fruit Company and those concerns headed by Mr. Keith were the most progressive in their methods, but they were handicapped by conditions which will now be considered.

The Boston Fruit Company and the Keith interest were the leading factors in the banana industry.  The Boston Fruit Company derived its product solely from the West Indies and confined its market to the Atlantic coast and to the northern sections of the interior of the United States.  The Keith interests cultivated bananas in Central America and Colombia and shipped them mainly to New Orleans and other Gulf ports, but lacked the facilities for reaching far into the southern and western territory naturally tributary to these shipping and railroad termini.  The competition between the Boston Fruit Company and the Keith interests, nor was there any prospect that their activities would conflict.

Neither of these interest had the capital with which to take advantage of obvious opportunities, but the time had arrived when moneyed men were willing to listen to the possibilities of the banana as an investment.  They still declined to class it as a conservative investment, and, such is the proverbial timidity of capital, it is not so considered to-day, as stock quotations eloquently testify.  Your cautious man of money seek investments which he can look at and study personally from day to day, the securities of which he can convert into cash almost at a moment’s notice, and the tropics—well, the tropics are far from New York and Boston.

Hence a tropical investment must prove and double prove itself before the average man of money will consider it, and then the lure must be attractive, in dividend per cents.  But in the years which had passed since Carl B. Franc, Captain Lorenzo D. Baker, Andrew W. Preston, Minor C. Keith, and others faced the hardships and risks of the pioneer, certain things had been proved beyond possibility of doubt.

The most favorable thing proved by these pioneers was that the people of the United States liked bananas and would eat them in unlimited quantities if offered at prices which would compete with such home fruits as apples, peaches, pears, and oranges.  The second favorable consideration proved was that bananas could be grown cheaply and in large quantities in certain tropical sections, provided weather condition continued favorable.

The disturbing and discouraging element was found in the fact that a flood, drought, or high wind would destroy a crop in a given section and eliminate it as a source of production for a year or more.  Capital pays more attention to one flaw in a new proposition than it does to ten of its glowing promises.  Possibly this is the reason why we have such a thing as capital.  In any event, capital in 1898 declined to enthuse over an enterprise which could not prove its ability to supply at all times the commodity in which a large investment was to be made.

There was ample justification for this attitude.  The Boston Fruit Company had learned by grim and expensive experience that the tropics could frown as well as smile.  Hurricanes leveled some of their best plantations in Jamaica.  The replanted tracts would later be swept away by roaring floods.  Drought shriveled the fronds of the banana plants in Cuba and San Domingo.  Nor was nature the only one strike blows.  Warring factions waged revolutions and counter-revolutions in Cuba and San Domingo.  There was no stability of governments, no assurance that the field workers of to-day would not follow some ambitious “general” on the morrow in the quest of “liberty” or loot.  The Boston Fruit Company did not have a source of banana supply which it could insure against sweeping disaster without warning.  Under the most favorable circumstances its total supply was insufficient to meet the rapidly increasing demand, and any curtailment meant not only money losses but damaged prestige as well.

The enterprises headed by Mr. Keith faced the same menace.  Terrific floods in Costa Rica and Panama Swept away the railroad tracks and bridges and overwhelmed the loaded plants in large districts.  In one year a protracted drought in the Santa Marta district of Colombia practically killed all the plantations.  Revolutions in some of the Central American republics played their part in determining whether crops would be harvested or not.

But luck, chance, or the law of average decreed that these disasters to the banana crops should be local, and that a large portion in the American tropics would survive in any year despite the rage of the elements and the fury of warring political factions.  The obvious remedy of a banana importing concern was to provide for sources of supply in many district scattered all over the America tropics.  This expedient was so obvious and so imperative that it should have suggested itself and been adopted years prior to the formation of the United Fruit company.  It was the natural, reasonable, sensible, and logical thing to do.

The consolidation of the interests of the Boston Fruit Company and the companies controlled by Minor C. Keith was brought about, as a matter of fact, not as the result of a carefully considered plan, but through a financial disaster which seriously threatened Mr. Keith.  In the latter part of 1898 the firm of Hoadley & Company failed.  Mr. Keith had drawn bills against this company to the amount of $1,500,000.  He was conducting extensive operations in many tropical sections, and this failure was serious blow.  For Year Mr. Keith had consigned his bananas to Hoadley & Company, through the port of New Orleans.  There was consequent shattering of his plans for the marketing of bananas.

I told in a former chapter of the time when 1,500 Jamaica negroes worked nine months for Mr. Keith without wages owing to the inability of the Government of Costa Rica to pay money due for railroad construction.  He failing of Hoadley & Company and the financial crippling of Mr. Keith gave Costa Rica a chance to prove that republics are not always ungrateful.  This crisis found Mr. Keith obligated to Costa Rica, which held his drafts in large amounts, but this made no difference.  The government officials of that republic promptly offered to lend Mr. Keith any reasonable amount of money to tide him over his difficulties, and he accepted their aid.  The Costa Rican banks and others cooperated, and two weeks after the failure Mr. Keith arrived in New York City and made a settlement in full with his creditors.

Mr. Keith, on account of the failure of his agents, was compelled to make new arrangements for the sale of his fruit and entered into negotiations with Andrew W. Preston, president of the Boston Fruit Company.  The latter organization had just formed the Fruit Dispatch Company for the purpose of expediting and extending the distribution and sale of bananas.  An arrangement was made by which a portion of the Mr. Keith’s product would be handled by the Boston Fruit Company or its branches, and it was in this manner that Mr. Preston and Mr. Keith came in closer business contact.  It has been explained that Mr. Keith took up banana cultivation and transportation as a means to supply freight for his tropical railroads, but in the years which had passed since 1871 his banana enterprises had progressed to a stage which demanded a large share of his time.  Instead of being a secondary interest, as mr. Keith had intended it to be, his banana enterprises threatened to divert his whole time from the railroad projects on which he had set his ambition.

Andrew W. Preston, president and directing spirit of the Boston Fruit Company and its branches, was anxious to secure new sources of banana supply, and was fully aware that some of these should come from Central and South America.

Under such conditions it was easy to initiate and conclude negotiations looking to the lawful consolidation of the properties of these two non-competitive groups of banana companies.  Mr. Preston, Mr. Keith, and their associates were also influenced by a hope that such an amalgamation would create an enterprise sufficiently conservative and devoid of risks to attract the outside capital required to place the banana business on a more secure financial foundation.

It had been obvious of years that the banana industry was one which must be conducted on a large scale.  It could be gambled in on a small scale, but there is a wide difference between rearing a conservative banana enterprise and taking a chance on the luck of a ship and a local banana plantation.  Most agricultural products can be raised on a small scale.  Wheat, corn, oats, barley, garden truck, apples, pears, grapes, and scores of other food and fruit products can be brought from the soil by individual of limited means, who can compete successfully with those who cultivate much larger tracts.  Cotton is in the same class, but sugar and bananas are in an entirely different class.

Sugar and bananas can be produced on a small scale, but their economical production positively demands vast acreage and vast expenditures for the complicated equipment of handling and transportation.  It was a demonstrated fact in 1899 that no banana enterprise could hope for permanent success unless financially equipped to insure a widely scattered source of supply, adequate means of transportation, and, finally, methods of distribution which would place bananas within speedy reach of all of the consuming centres in the United States.

Investors had never been offered a chance in a banana enterprise of this character.  Would it prove attractive?  Mr. Keith, Mr. Preston, and their associates discussed the question of a consolidation of interest and gave careful consideration to the various details.  It was found possible to enlist financial support for the organization of a properly equipped banana enterprise.  The United Fruit Company was not, strictly speaking, a consolidation of the interest of the northern and southern groups headed respectively by Andrew W. Preston and Minor C. Keith.  The United Fruit Company was incorporated on March 30, 1899, under the laws of New Jersey, as a single, individual corporation, with an authorized capital of $20,000,000.  Shortly thereafter, $1,650,000 was subscribed and paid for in cash at par, and during the first year $11,230,000 in stock was subscribed.  It was authorized under its charter to acquire, by purchase or development, banan and other properties and to conduct them in the manner provided by law.

Under this charter the United Fruit Company, on April I, 1899, offered to purchase all of the property, business, and shares of the Boston Fruit Company and of its associated companies of $5,200,200 cash.  This offer was later accepted and resulted in the acquisition by the United Fruit Company of the assets of the Boston Fruit Company, and its seven branch companies, viz: the American Fruit Company, Banes Fruit Company, Buckman Fruit Company, Dominican Fruit Company, Quaker City Fruit Company, and Sama Fruit Company, also the Fruit Dispatch Company.

These seven branches of the Boston Fruit Company were organized from time to time for business convenience, and were owned outright or largely controlled by the parent company.  This system of branch companies was the conventional expedient of the time and was not a subject of comment or criticism.

The Banes Fruit Company, Dominican Fruit Company, and Sama Fruit Company were companies organized and owned by the Boston Fruit Company, and were operated solely for the purpose of owning plantations and growing bananas in Cuba and San Domingo.  They were strictly agricultural propositions.   The American Fruit Company, Buckman Fruit Company, and Quaker City Fruit Company were organized by the Boston Fruit Company to transport bananas from Cuba, San Domingo, and Jamaica to the United States, and to sell them in different points in the northern and northeaster sections of the country.  The Boston Fruit Company imported bananas into the port of Boston;  the American Fruit Company imported bananas to New York City, the Quaker City Fruit Company to Philadelphia, and the Buckman Fruit Company to  Baltimore.  The Boston Fruit Company furnished to the American, Quaker City, and Buckman companies all of the bananas imported and sold by them.  In other words, all of these companies were merely branches of the Boston Fruit Company.

The Fruit Dispatch Company was organized and wholly owned by the Boston Fruit Company, and was a selling corporation only.  It still maintains a separate corporate existence, but is owned outright by the United Fruit Company.

To all intents and purposed the Boston Fruit Company and the branches organized and owned by it were one corporation in 1899.  The branches were organized and maintained for purposed of convenience and for conventional business reasons, mainly local.  It was within the power and the right of the Boston Fruit Company to absorb its branches at any time, or to make such other disposition of them as it saw fit.  Despite this obvious fact, it has been alleged that the United Fruit Company acquired these branch companies because they were competitive with the Boston Fruit Company—an absurd and utterly unfounded statement.  The source of banana supply did not extend south of Jamaica and there was no port of entry south of Baltimore.  So much for the northern or Boston group.

On April 5, 1899, the United Fruit Company purchased from Minor C. Keith and his associates all of the properties owned by the Tropical Trading and Transport Company, Ltd., the Colombian Land Company, Ltd., and the Snyder Banana Company, all three of which had been under the management and control of Mr. Keith.  These three properties were acquired for about $4,000,000.  The Colombian Land Company, Ltd., and the Tropical Trading and Transport Company, Ltd., were corporation whose operations were restricted solely to the cultivation of banana plantations in Colombia and Costa Rica respectively.  The Snyder Banana

Company owned plantations in Panama and chartered a few steamers which carried its fruit and other freight from Bocas del Toro to New Orleans and Mobile.  The width of the Caribbean separated this group from the one to which it had been united, and the ports of entry and distribution were no nearer than Baltimore and Mobile.

Such is the plain history of the organization of the United Fruit Company.  Its legal incorporation meant more than the birth of a corporation.  (It was the actual birth of the banana industry.)  It had taken thirty-four years of blunders, experiments, disasters, partial successes and assumption of the innumerable risks and hardships incident to a struggle with the virgin tropics to create an enterprise fit to take advantage of the experience which had so dearly been bought.  The great experiment of whether bananas could be produced and handled on a vastly larger scale had yet to be made, and there were many who did not hesitate to predict that the ambitions plans of the newly organized United Fruit Company would end in overwhelming failure.


Top of Pg.

Gout Remedies

Jan Verkolje Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first person to describe gout or uric acid crystals 1679.

For one suffering gout, the following vitamins, herbs, and extracts may be worth looking into:

Vitamin C Folic Acid – Folic Acid is a B vitamin and is also known as B9 – [Known food [...] Read more →

44 Berkeley Square

The Clermont Club

Reprint from London Bisnow/UK

At £23M, its sale is not the biggest property deal in the world. But the Clermont Club casino in Berkeley Square in London could lay claim to being the most significant address in modern finance — it is where the concept of what is today [...] Read more →

Herbal Psychedelics – Rhododendron ponticum and Mad Honey Disease

Toxicity of Rhododendron From

“Potentially toxic chemicals, particularly ‘free’ phenols, and diterpenes, occur in significant quantities in the tissues of plants of Rhododendron species. Diterpenes, known as grayanotoxins, occur in the leaves, flowers and nectar of Rhododendrons. These differ from species to species. Not all species produce them, although Rhododendron ponticum [...] Read more →

Harry Houdini Investigates the Spirit World

The magician delighted in exposing spiritualists as con men and frauds.

By EDMUND WILSON June 24, 1925

Houdini is a short strong stocky man with small feet and a very large head. Seen from the stage, his figure, with its short legs and its pugilist’s proportions, is less impressive than at close [...] Read more →

Ought King Leopold to be Hanged?

King Leopold Butcher of the Congo

For the somewhat startling suggestion in the heading of this interview, the missionary interviewed is in no way responsible. The credit of it, or, if you like, the discredit, belongs entirely to the editor of the Review, who, without dogmatism, wishes to pose the question as [...] Read more →

Vitruvius Ten Books on Architecture


The Ten Books on Architecture




Country House Christmas Pudding

Country House Christmas Pudding


1 cup Christian Bros Brandy ½ cup Myer’s Dark Rum ½ cup Jim Beam Whiskey 1 cup currants 1 cup sultana raisins 1 cup pitted prunes finely chopped 1 med. apple peeled and grated ½ cup chopped dried apricots ½ cup candied orange peel finely chopped 1 ¼ cup [...] Read more →

The Hoochie Coochie Hex

From Dr. Marvel’s 1929 book entitled Hoodoo for the Common Man, we find his infamous Hoochie Coochie Hex.

What follows is a verbatim transcription of the text:

The Hoochie Coochie Hex should not be used in conjunction with any other Hexes. This can lead to [...] Read more →

Horn Measurement

Jul. 23, 1898 Forest and Stream, Pg. 65

Horn Measurements.

Editor Forest and Stream: “Record head.” How shamefully this term is being abused, especially in the past three years; or since the giant moose from Alaska made his appearance in public and placed all former records (so far as [...] Read more →

Valentine Poetry from the Cotswold Explorer


There is nothing more delightful than a great poetry reading to warm ones heart on a cold winter night fireside. Today is one of the coldest Valentine’s days on record, thus, nothing could be better than listening to the resonant voice of Robin Shuckbrugh, The Cotswold [...] Read more →

On Bernini’s Bust of a Stewart King

As reported in the The Colac Herald on Friday July 17, 1903 Pg. 8 under Art Appreciation as a reprint from the Westminster Gazette


The appreciation of art as well as of history which is entertained by the average member of the [...] Read more →

AB Bookman’s 1948 Guide to Describing Conditions

AB Bookman’s 1948 Guide to Describing Conditions:

As New is self-explanatory. It means that the book is in the state that it should have been in when it left the publisher. This is the equivalent of Mint condition in numismatics. Fine (F or FN) is As New but allowing for the normal effects of [...] Read more →

The Fowling Piece – Part I

THE FOWLING PIECE, from the Shooter’s Guide by B. Thomas – 1811.

I AM perfectly aware that a large volume might be written on this subject; but, as my intention is to give only such information and instruction as is necessary for the sportsman, I shall forbear introducing any extraneous [...] Read more →

Copper Kills Covid-19 and the Sun is Your Friend

The element copper effectively kills viruses and bacteria.

Therefore it would reason and I will assert and not only assert but lay claim to the patents for copper mesh stints to be inserted in the arteries of patients presenting with severe cases of Covid-19 with a slow release dosage of [...] Read more →

Blunderbuss Mai Tai Recipe

Blackbeard’s Jolly Roger

If you’re looking for that most refreshing of summertime beverages for sipping out on the back patio or perhaps as a last drink before walking the plank, let me recommend my Blunderbuss Mai Tai. I picked up the basics to this recipe over thirty years ago when holed up [...] Read more →

Some Notes on American Ship Worms

July 9, 1898. Forest and Stream Pg. 25

Some Notes on American Ship-Worms.

[Read before the American Fishes Congress at Tampa.]

While we wish to preserve and protect most of the products of our waters, these creatures we would gladly obliterate from the realm of living things. For [...] Read more →

Abingdon, Berkshire in the Year of 1880

St.Helen’s on the Thames, photo by Momit


From a Dictionary of the Thames from Oxford to the Nore. 1880 by Charles Dickens

Abingdon, Berkshire, on the right bank, from London 103 3/4miles, from Oxford 7 3/4 miles. A station on the Great Western Railway, from Paddington 60 miles. The time occupied [...] Read more →

Target Practice

Nov. 12, 1898 Forest and Stream Pg. 396

The Veterans to the Front.

Ironton. O., Oct. 28.—Editor Forest and Stream: I mail you a target made here today by Messrs. E. Lawton, G. Rogers and R. S. Dupuy. Mr. Dupuy is seventy-four years old, Mr. Lawton seventy-two. Mr. Rogers [...] Read more →

Books Condemned to be Burnt








WHEN did books first come to be burnt in England by the common hangman, and what was [...] Read more →

Modern Slow Cookers, A Critical Design Flaw

Modern slow cookers come in all sizes and colors with various bells and whistles, including timers and shut off mechanisms. They also come with a serious design flaw, that being the lack of a proper domed lid.

The first photo below depict a popular model Crock-Pot® sold far and wide [...] Read more →

English Fig Wine

Take the large blue figs when pretty ripe, and steep them in white wine, having made some slits in them, that they may swell and gather in the substance of the wine.

Then slice some other figs and let them simmer over a fire in water until they are reduced [...] Read more →

Cleaning Watch Chains

To Clean Watch Chains.

Gold or silver watch chains can be cleaned with a very excellent result, no matter whether they may be matt or polished, by laying them for a few seconds in pure aqua ammonia; they are then rinsed in alcohol, and finally. shaken in clean sawdust, free from sand. [...] Read more →

Sea and River Fishing

An angler with a costly pole Surmounted with a silver reel, Carven in quaint poetic scroll- Jointed and tipped with finest steel— With yellow flies, Whose scarlet eyes And jasper wings are fair to see, Hies to the stream Whose bubbles beam Down murmuring eddies wild and free. And casts the line with sportsman’s [...] Read more →

Stoke Park – Granted by King Charles I

Stoke Park Pavillions


Stoke Park Pavilions, UK, view from A405 Road. photo by Wikipedia user Cj1340


From Wikipedia:

Stoke Park – the original house

Stoke park was the first English country house to display a Palladian plan: a central house with balancing pavilions linked by colonnades or [...] Read more →

Country Cabbage and Pea Soup

Add the following ingredients to a four or six quart crock pot, salt & pepper to taste keeping in mind that salt pork is just that, cover with water and cook on high till it boils, then cut back to low for four or five hours. A slow cooker works well, I [...] Read more →

Commercial Tuna Salad Recipe

Tom Oates, aka Nabokov at en.wikipedia

No two commercial tuna salads are prepared by exactly the same formula, but they do not show the wide variety characteristic of herring salad. The recipe given here is typical. It is offered, however, only as a guide. The same recipe with minor variations to suit [...] Read more →

Sir Peter Francis Bourgeois and the Dulwich Picture Gallery

Noel Desenfans and Sir Francis Bourgeois, circa 1805 by Paul Sandby, watercolour on paper

The Dulwich Picture Gallery was England’s first purpose-built art gallery and considered by some to be England’s first national gallery. Founded by the bequest of Sir Peter Francis Bourgois, dandy, the gallery was built to display his vast [...] Read more →

Protecting Rare Books: How to Build a Silverfish Trap

Silverfish damage to book – photo by Micha L. Rieser

The beauty of hunting silverfish is that they are not the most clever of creatures in the insect kingdom.

Simply take a small clean glass jar and wrap it in masking tape. The masking tape gives the silverfish something to [...] Read more →

Watch Fraud on eBay


EBay has had a problem with fraudulent sellers since its inception back in 1995. Some aspects of the platform have improved with algorithms and automation, but others such as customer service and fraud have gotten worse. Small sellers have definitely been hurt by eBay’s [...] Read more →

Cocktails and Canapés

From The How and When, An Authoritative reference reference guide to the origin, use and classification of the world’s choicest vintages and spirits by Hyman Gale and Gerald F. Marco. The Marco name is of a Chicago family that were involved in all aspects of the liquor business and ran Marco’s Bar [...] Read more →

A General Process for Making Wine

A General Process for Making Wine.

Gathering the Fruit Picking the Fruit Bruising the Fruit Vatting the Fruit Vinous Fermentation Drawing the Must Pressing the Must Casking the Must Spirituous Fermentation Racking the Wine Bottling and Corking the Wine Drinking the Wine


It is of considerable consequence [...] Read more →

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. “Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!” he said. Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. Home Top of [...] Read more →

The Perfect Salad Dressing

The following recipes are from a small booklet entitled 500 Delicious Salads that was published for the Culinary Arts Institute in 1940 by Consolidated Book Publishers, Inc. 153 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.

If you have been looking for a way to lighten up your salads and be free of [...] Read more →

Banana Propagation

Banana Propagation

Reprinted from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (

The traditional means of obtaining banana planting material (“seed”) is to acquire suckers from one’s own banana garden, from a neighbor, or from a more distant source. This method served to spread common varieties around the world and to multiply them [...] Read more →

The Intaglio Processes for Audubon’s Birds of America

Notes on the intaglio processes of the most expensive book on birds available for sale in the world today.

The Audubon prints in “The Birds of America” were all made from copper plates utilizing four of the so called “intaglio” processes, engraving, etching, aquatint, and drypoint. Intaglio [...] Read more →

The Kalmar War

Wojna Kalmarska – 1611

The Kalmar War

From The Historian’s History of the World (In 25 Volumes) by Henry Smith William L.L.D. – Vol. XVI.(Scandinavia) Pg. 308-310

The northern part of the Scandinavian peninsula, as already noticed, had been peopled from the remotest times by nomadic tribes called Finns or Cwenas by [...] Read more →

Wine Making

Wine Making

Grapes are the world’s leading fruit crop and the eighth most important food crop in the world, exceeded only by the principal cereals and starchytubers. Though substantial quantities are used for fresh fruit, raisins, juice and preserves, most of the world’s annual production of about 60 million [...] Read more →

Blackberry Wine


5 gallons of blackberries 5 pound bag of sugar

Fill a pair of empty five gallon buckets half way with hot soapy water and a ¼ cup of vinegar. Wash thoroughly and rinse.

Fill one bucket with two and one half gallons of blackberries and crush with [...] Read more →

Proper Book Handling and Cleaning

Book Conservators, Mitchell Building, State Library of New South Wales, 29.10.1943, Pix Magazine

The following is taken verbatim from a document that appeared several years ago in the Maine State Archives. It seems to have been removed from their website. I happened to have made a physical copy of it at the [...] Read more →

Clover Wine

Add 3 quarts clover blossoms* to 4 quarts of boiling water removed from heat at point of boil. Let stand for three days. At the end of the third day, drain the juice into another container leaving the blossoms. Add three quarts of fresh water and the peel of one lemon to the blossoms [...] Read more →

Popular Mechanics Archive

Click here to access the Internet Archive of old Popular Mechanics Magazines – 1902-2016

Click here to view old Popular Mechanics Magazine Covers

Home Top of Pg. Read more →

The First Greek Book by John Williams White

Click here to read The First Greek Book by John Williams White

The First Greek Book - 15.7MB



The death, on May 9, of John Williams White, professor of Greek in Harvard University, touches a large number of classical [...] Read more →

The Standard Navy Cutter and a Whale Boat Design

Dec. 24, 1898 Forest and Stream Pg. 513-514

The Standard Navy Boats.

Above we find,

The accompanying illustrations show further details of the standard navy boats, the lines of which appeared last week. In all of these boats, as stated previously, the quality of speed has been given [...] Read more →

A Crock of Squirrel


4 young squirrels – quartered Salt & Pepper 1 large bunch of fresh coriander 2 large cloves of garlic 2 tbsp. salted sweet cream cow butter ¼ cup of brandy 1 tbsp. turbinado sugar 6 fresh apricots 4 strips of bacon 1 large package of Monterrey [...] Read more →

The Flying Saucers are Real by Donald Keyhoe

It was a strange assignment. I picked up the telegram from desk and read it a third time.

NEW YORK, N.Y., MAY 9, 1949


British Craftsmanship is Alive and Well

The Queen Elizabeth Trust, or QEST, is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of British craftsmanship through the funding of scholarships and educational endeavours to include apprenticeships, trade schools, and traditional university classwork. The work of QEST is instrumental in keeping alive age old arts and crafts such as masonry, glassblowing, shoemaking, [...] Read more →

A Few Wine Recipes

EIGHTEEN GALLONS is here give as a STANDARD for all the following Recipes, it being the most convenient size cask to Families. See A General Process for Making Wine

If, however, only half the quantity of Wine is to be made, it is but to divide the portions of [...] Read more →

Pickled Eels

Vintage woodcut illustration of a Eel


This dish is a favorite in Northern Europe, from the British Isles to Sweden.

Clean and skin the eels and cut them into pieces about 3/4-inch thick. Wash and drain the pieces, then dredge in fine salt and allow to stand from 30 [...] Read more →

A Conversation between H.F. Leonard and K. Higashi

H.F. Leonard was an instructor in wrestling at the New York Athletic Club. Katsukum Higashi was an instructor in Jujitsu.

“I say with emphasis and without qualification that I have been unable to find anything in jujitsu which is not known to Western wrestling. So far as I can see, [...] Read more →

Audubon’s Art Method and Techniques

Audubon started to develop a special technique for drawing birds in 1806 a Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. He perfected it during the long river trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans and in New Orleans, 1821.

Home Top of [...] Read more →

Sir Joshua Reynolds – Notes from Rome

“The Leda, in the Colonna palace, by Correggio, is dead-coloured white and black, with ultramarine in the shadow ; and over that is scumbled, thinly and smooth, a warmer tint,—I believe caput mortuum. The lights are mellow ; the shadows blueish, but mellow. The picture is painted on panel, in [...] Read more →

The Preparation of Marketable Vinegar

It is unnecessary to point out that low-grade fruit may often be used to advantage in the preparation of vinegar. This has always been true in the case of apples and may be true with other fruit, especially grapes. The use of grapes for wine making is an outlet which [...] Read more →

Tuna and Tarpon

July, 16, l898 Forest and Stream Pg. 48

Tuna and Tarpon.

New York, July 1.—Editor Forest and Stream: If any angler still denies the justice of my claim, as made in my article in your issue of July 2, that “the tuna is the grandest game [...] Read more →

What is the Meaning of the Term Thorough-bred Fox-hound

Reprint from the Sportsman Cabinet and Town & Country Magazine, Vol.1, Number 1, November 1832.

MR. Editor,

Will you allow me to inquire, through the medium of your pages, the correct meaning of the term thorough-bred fox-hound? I am very well aware, that the expression is in common [...] Read more →

A Summer Memory


Here, where these low lush meadows lie, We wandered in the summer weather, When earth and air and arching sky, Blazed grandly, goldenly together.

And oft, in that same summertime, We sought and roamed these self-same meadows, When evening brought the curfew chime, And peopled field and fold with shadows.

I mind me [...] Read more →

Rendering Amber Clear for Use in Lens-Making for Magnifying Glass

by John Partridge,drawing,1825

From the work of Sir Charles Lock Eastlake entitled Materials for a history of oil painting, (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1846), we learn the following:

The effect of oil at certain temperatures, in penetrating “the minute pores of the amber” (as Hoffman elsewhere writes), is still more [...] Read more →

Producing and Harvesting Tobacco Seed

THE FIRST step in producing a satisfactory crop of tobacco is to use good seed that is true to type. The grower often can save his own seed to advantage, if he wants to.

Before topping is done, he should go over the tobacco field carefully to pick [...] Read more →

A Cure for Distemper in Dogs


The following cure was found written on a front flyleaf in an 1811 3rd Ed. copy of The Sportsman’s Guide or Sportsman’s Companion: Containing Every Possible Instruction for the Juvenille Shooter, Together with Information Necessary for the Experienced Sportsman by B. Thomas.



Vaccinate your dogs when young [...] Read more →

Cleaner for Gilt Picture Frames

Cleaner for Gilt Frames.

Calcium hypochlorite…………..7 oz. Sodium bicarbonate……………7 oz. Sodium chloride………………. 2 oz. Distilled water…………………12 oz.


Home Top of Pg. Read more →

Cocillana Syrup Compound

Guarea guidonia


5 Per Cent Alcohol 8-24 Grain – Heroin Hydrochloride 120 Minims – Tincture Euphorbia Pilulifera 120 Minims – Syrup Wild Lettuce 40 Minims – Tincture Cocillana 24 Minims – Syrup Squill Compound 8 Gram – Ca(s)ecarin (P, D, & Co.) 8-100 Grain Menthol

Dose – One-half to one fluidrams (2 to [...] Read more →

The Master of Hounds

Photo Caption: The Marquis of Zetland, KC, PC – otherwise known as Lawrence Dundas Son of: John Charles Dundas and: Margaret Matilda Talbot born: Friday 16 August 1844 died: Monday 11 March 1929 at Aske Hall Occupation: M.P. for Richmond Viceroy of Ireland Vice Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Lord – in – Waiting [...] Read more →

A History of Fowling – Ravens and Jays

From A History of Fowling, Being an Account of the Many Curios Devices by Which Wild Birds are, or Have Been, Captured in Different Parts of the World by Rev. H.A. MacPherson, M.A.

THE RAVEN (Corvus corax) is generally accredited with a large endowment of mother wit. Its warning [...] Read more →

The Black Grouper or Jewfish.


Nov. 5. 1898 Forest and Stream Pg. 371-372

The Black Grouper or Jewfish.

New Smyrna, Fla., Oct. 21.—Editor Forest and Stream:

It is not generally known that the fish commonly called jewfish. warsaw and black grouper are frequently caught at the New Smyrna bridge [...] Read more →

JP Morgan’s Digital Currency Patent Application

J.P. Morgan Patent #8,452,703

Method and system for processing internet payments using the electronic funds transfer network.


Embodiments of the invention include a method and system for conducting financial transactions over a payment network. The method may include associating a payment address of an account [...] Read more →

A Couple of Classic Tennessee Squirrel Recipes


3-4 Young Squirrels, dressed and cleaned 1 tsp. Morton Salt or to taste 1 tsp. McCormick Black Pepper or to taste 1 Cup Martha White All Purpose Flour 1 Cup Hog Lard – Preferably fresh from hog killing, or barbecue table

Cut up three to [...] Read more →

Something about Caius College, Cambridge

Gate of Honour, Caius Court, Gonville & Caius

Gonville & Caius College, known as Caius and pronounced keys was founded in 1348 by Edmund Gonville, the Rector of Terrington St Clement in Norfolk. The first name was thus Goville Hall and it was dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. [...] Read more →

Napoleon’s Pharmacists


Of the making of books about Napoleon there is no end, and the centenary of his death (May 5) is not likely to pass without adding to the number, but a volume on Napoleon”s pharmacists still awaits treatment by the student in this field of historical research. There [...] Read more →

Cup of Tea? To be or not to be

Twinings London – photo by Elisa.rolle

Is the tea in your cup genuine?

The fact is, had one been living in the early 19th Century, one might occasionally encounter a counterfeit cup of tea. Food adulterations to include added poisonings and suspect substitutions were a common problem in Europe at [...] Read more →

Money Saving Recipe for Gold Leaf Sizing

Artisans world-wide spend a fortune on commercial brand oil-based gold leaf sizing. The most popular brands include Luco, Dux, and L.A. Gold Leaf. Pricing for quart size containers range from $35 to $55 depending upon retailer pricing.

Fast drying sizing sets up in 2-4 hours depending upon environmental conditions, humidity [...] Read more →

The Effect of Magnetic Fields on Wound Healing

The Effect of Magnetic Fields on Wound Healing Experimental Study and Review of the Literature

Steven L. Henry, MD, Matthew J. Concannon, MD, and Gloria J. Yee, MD Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Missouri Hospital & Clinics, Columbia, MO Published July 25, 2008

Objective: Magnets [...] Read more →

The Character of a Happy Life

How happy is he born and taught. That serveth not another’s will; Whose armour is his honest thought, And simple truth his utmost skill

Whose passions not his masters are; Whose soul is still prepared for death, Untied unto the world by care Of public fame or private breath;

Who envies none that chance [...] Read more →

Why Beauty Matters

Roger Scruton by Peter Helm

This is one of those videos that the so-called intellectual left would rather not be seen by the general public as it makes a laughing stock of the idiots running the artworld, a multi-billion dollar business.

or Click here to watch

[...] Read more →

How Long is Your Yacht?

Dominion, Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club,Winner of Seawanhaka Cup, 1898.

The Tail Wags the Dog.

The following is a characteristic sample of those broad and liberal views on yachting which are the pride of the Boston Herald. Speaking of the coming races for the Seawanhaka international challenge cup, it says:

[...] Read more →

Naval Stores – Distilling Turpentine

Chipping a Turpentine Tree

DISTILLING TURPENTINE One of the Most Important Industries of the State of Georgia Injuring the Magnificent Trees Spirits, Resin, Tar, Pitch, and Crude Turpentine all from the Long Leaved Pine – “Naval Stores” So Called.

Dublin, Ga., May 8. – One of the most important industries [...] Read more →

Indian Modes of Hunting – Musquash

Hudson Bay: Trappers, 1892. N’Talking Musquash.’ Fur Trappers Of The Hudson’S Bay Company Talking By A Fire. Engraving After A Drawing By Frederic Remington, 1892.

Indian Modes of Hunting.


In Canada and the United States, the killing of the little animal known under the several names of [...] Read more →

The Real Time Piece Gentleman and the Digital Watch Vault

Paul Thorpe, Brighton, U.K.

The YouTube watch collecting world is rather tight-knit and small, but growing, as watches became a highly coveted commodity during the recent world-wide pandemic and fueled an explosion of online watch channels.

There is one name many know, The Time Piece Gentleman. This name for me [...] Read more →

Glimpses from the Chase

From Fores’s Sporting Notes and Sketches, A Quarterly Magazine Descriptive of British, Indian, Colonial, and Foreign Sport with Thirty Two Full Page Illustrations Volume 10 1893, London; Mssrs. Fores Piccadilly W. 1893, All Rights Reserved.

GLIMPSES OF THE CHASE, Ireland a Hundred Years Ago. By ‘Triviator.’

FOX-HUNTING has, like Racing, [...] Read more →

Bess of Hardwick: Four Times a Lady

Bess of Harwick

Four times the nuptial bed she warm’d, And every time so well perform’d, That when death spoil’d each husband’s billing, He left the widow every shilling. Fond was the dame, but not dejected; Five stately mansions she erected With more than royal pomp, to vary The prison of her captive When [...] Read more →

King Arthur Legends, Myths, and Maidens

King Arthur, Legends, Myths & Maidens is a massive book of Arthurian legends. This limited edition paperback was just released on Barnes and Noble at a price of $139.00. Although is may seem a bit on the high side, it may prove to be well worth its price as there are only [...] Read more →

Antibiotic Properties of Jungle Soil

If ever it could be said that there is such a thing as miracle healing soil, Ivan Sanderson said it best in his 1965 book entitled Ivan Sanderson’s Book of Great Jungles.

Sanderson grew up with a natural inclination towards adventure and learning. He hailed from Scotland but spent much [...] Read more →

Chantry Chapels

William Wyggeston’s chantry house, built around 1511, in Leicester: The building housed two priests, who served at a chantry chapel in the nearby St Mary de Castro church. It was sold as a private dwelling after the dissolution of the chantries.

A Privately Built Chapel

Chantry, chapel, generally within [...] Read more →

Beef Jerky



Slice 5 pounds lean beef (flank steak or similar cut) into strips 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, 1 to 2 inches wide, and 4 to 12 inches long. Cut with grain of meat; remove the fat. Lay out in a single layer on a smooth clean surface (use [...] Read more →

The Racing Knockabout Gosling

The Racing Knockabout Gosling.

Gosling was the winning yacht of 1897 in one of the best racing classes now existing in this country, the Roston knockabout class. The origin of this class dates back about six years, when Carl, a small keel cutter, was built for C. H. [...] Read more →

Preserving Iron and Steel Surfaces with Paint

Painting the Brooklyn Bridge, Photo by Eugene de Salignac , 1914


Excerpt from: The Preservation of Iron and Steel Structures by F. Cosby-Jones, The Mechanical Engineer January 30, 1914


This is the method of protection against corrosion that has the most extensive use, owing to the fact that [...] Read more →

Classic Restoration of a Spring Tied Upholstered Chair


This video by AT Restoration is the best hands on video I have run across on the basics of classic upholstery. Watch a master at work. Simply amazing.


Round needles: Double pointed hand needle: Hand tools: Staple gun (for beginner): Compressor [...] Read more →

U.S. Coast Guard Radio Information for Boaters

VHF Marifoon Sailor RT144, by S.J. de Waard


Effective 01 August, 2013, the U. S. Coast Guard terminated its radio guard of the international voice distress, safety and calling frequency 2182 kHz and the international digital selective calling (DSC) distress and safety frequency 2187.5 kHz. Additionally, [...] Read more →

Clairvoyance and Occult Powers

Vishnu as the Cosmic Man (Vishvarupa) Opaque watercolour on paper – Jaipur, Rajasthan c. 1800-50



By Swami Panchadasi

Copyright, 1916

By Advanced Thought Pub. Co. Chicago, Il


In preparing this series of lessons for students of [...] Read more →

The Age of Chivalry


On the decline of the Roman power, about five centuries after Christ, the countries of Northern Europe were left almost destitute of a national government. Numerous chiefs, more or less powerful, held local sway, as far as each could enforce his dominion, and occasionally those [...] Read more →

Indian Mode of Hunting – Beaver

Jul. 30, 1898 Forest and Stream Pg. 87

Indian Mode of Hunting.


Wa-sa-Kejic came over to the post early one October, and said his boy had cut his foot, and that he had no one to steer his canoe on a proposed beaver hunt. Now [...] Read more →

King William III on Horseback by Sir Godfrey Kneller

Reprint from The Royal Collection Trust website:

Kneller was born in Lubeck, studied with Rembrandt in Amsterdam and by 1676 was working in England as a fashionable portrait painter. He painted seven British monarchs (Charles II, James II, William III, Mary II, Anne, George I and George II), though his [...] Read more →

Christmas Pudding with Dickens

Traditional British Christmas Pudding Recipe by Pen Vogler from the Charles Dickens Museum


85 grams all purpose flour pinch of salt 170 grams Beef Suet 140 grams brown sugar tsp. mixed spice, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, &c 170 grams bread crumbs 170 grams raisins 170 grams currants 55 grams cut mixed peel Gram to [...] Read more →

How to Make Money – Insurance

Life insurance certificate issued by the Yorkshire Fire & Life Insurance Company to Samuel Holt, Liverpool, England, 1851. On display at the British Museum in London. Donated by the ifs School of Finance. Photo by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg)

From How to Make Money; and How to Keep it, Or, Capital and Labor [...] Read more →

Fortune, Independence, and Competence

THE answer to the question, What is fortune has never been, and probably never will be, satisfactorily made. What may be a fortune for one bears but small proportion to the colossal possessions of another. The scores or hundreds of thousands admired and envied as a fortune in most of our communities [...] Read more →