Before the days of photography, documenting anything accurately was a task that could only be undertaken by an artist or a model maker. So, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided, in the late 19th century, that they needed to create a sort of national register of fruits and vegetables, they turned to one of the leading botanical artists of the time William Henry Prestele.
In 1887, Prestele was appointed as the first artist for the newly created Division of Pomology. His task was to reproduce in watercolor and ink, the different varieties of fruits and cultivars American farmers were growing, in painstaking detail. He was to show the natural size, shape, and color of the fruit, both exterior and interior, complete with leaves and twigs.
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From left to right: Cabashea variety of apples (artist: Deborah Griscom Passmore); avacado (artist: Mary Daisy Arnold); Un-Shu variety of oranges (artist:Deborah Griscom Passmore)