The Imperiia Project: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

The Tasting Board

Pomology - the science of growing fruit - was all the rage in the nineteenth century.

Herbal dictionaries (like the one pictured at right, by the incomparable Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau), botanical collections, and pomological publications supported the work of horticulturalists across North American and Europe. Agricultural journals addressed the topic. Societies formed. Local knowledge flowed through an increasingly robust global network of correspondents.

In Russia, the apex of this activity arrived in the form of the Atlas of Fruits, edited by Adam Stanislavovich Grebnitskii on behalf of the Imperial Russian Society of Fruit Cultivators. The society was established in 1857; Grebnitskii, who would become a leading botanist and horticulturalist, was born the same year. In 1900 he published an edition of Andrei Bolotov's classic "Illustration and description of all sorts of apples" and this work led into the production of the Atlas.

The Atlas - think of it as a pomological encyclopedia - focuses on fruits grown for market (primarily apples and pears). It extends across 675 pages organized into four sections. It contains an index of fruits and an index of the individuals who contributed articles and commentaries.

This gallery contains the 32 entries associated explicitly with Crimea. 

In some cases, Crimea is mentioned in the opening paragraph as a primary cultivation site. In other cases it is mentioned in the commentaries submitted by society members throughout the empire. Correspondents from Simferopol, Odessa, and Moscow (where the biggest fruit markets were located) tend to be the best sources of information regarding Crimean fruits.

The entries contain detailed descriptions of the features of each fruit (size, shape, flavor, details about skin, flesh, and pit) as well as information about the trees that bear them. The notes attached to each illustration in this project focus mainly on taste and market presence.

Best of all? Keep an eye out for whether a particular fruit is "table-worthy" (sweet and eye-catching) or... well... best suited for candy or jam production. The commercial canning industry was taking off, doing its best to keep up with the sweet-tooths in Moscow and St. Petersburg! 

Wait, who invented pomology?

Option 1: Scroll through a timeline of fruit cultivation in Crimea

The Atlas contains notes on when varieties were identified or introduced. The dates are often approximate, and we have adapted them as well as possible to give a rough sense of when fruits were identified as market-worthy. Remember, Crimea was (and is) full of local varieties that were less suitable for large-scale production - they are not represented in the Atlas (or on the timeline). 

Option 2: Page through a flip-book

Page through a collection of pear varieties or apple varieties.

Option 3: Sample from the full tasting board

Click on an image to learn more. Close the image to return to this page.

This page has paths:

This page has tags:

Contents of this tag:

This page references: