This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
"We are indebted to Messrs Hooper and Co., Covent Garden, London, for the opportunity of giving illustrations of two new Potatoes of American origin, recently imported to this country, the advent of which has been heralded by glowing accounts of their high-class quality. It will be in the recollection of many of our readers that the Early Rose Potato was distributed last season at what appeared to be an unusually high price, but which sold freely nevertheless. It was tried in many parts of the United Kingdom, with varying success, and, as is common to new things generally, whilst some cultivators severely condemned it, others as enthusiastically praised its fine qualities. If the demand made for it just now can be taken as evidencing its worth, it must be held in high esteem, notwithstanding so much hostile criticism, as the sale is said to be astonishingly large. Respecting the Early Rose and the new varieties figured by us, Messrs Hooper & Co. state: "The Early Rose was introduced with considerable eclat last season. It was an American novelty - hundreds tried it - and though many were disposed to expect its merits bad been so Americanised that it would not hold out in this country, it proved conversely to exceed its promises, and has taken the Potato-growing public by surprise.
It is impossible to repeat one-fourth of the reports in praise of it which we have received; we, however, make a few selections. Our own experience was a produce of 4 cwt. of marketable Potatoes (and not a peck of chats) from 7 lb. planted - the separated eyes, of course. One seedsman in the provinces writes, " My customers speak in high favour of it: one to-day has just raised his crop from one tuber, 16 lb. good weight, very handsome; he left one, a very fine clear handsome specimen, 12 oz. in weight, a great beauty." Our correspondent, N. J. Easterbrooke, Esq., of Hayle, also says: " You cannot speak too highly of the Early Rose Potato - it is indeed a wonder; as an early Potato, they are undoubtedly the best I ever saw. All who wish for great and good things ought to plant the Early Rose." From various letters in the horticultural papers, single pounds produced 48, 105, 123 pounds, etc. With regard to qualities, "A Subscriber, Nottingham," in 'Journal of Horticulture,' says, "I cooked some more yesterday (Aug. 17), and found them splendid; I never tasted anything to equal them." All these testimonials were quite spontaneous and unsolicited, and should, we think, invite a very great demand for this and the other American varieties.
We may further say that, from various facts and experiences with this Potato, we believe it will be quite possible to raise two crops in one season by beginning early.
Another from the same quarter and by the same raiser is Bresee's King of the Earlies.
It is thus described: - "Vines a medium height or a little less, and bearing no balls; leaves large; tubers large and handsome, roundish and slightly flattened, eyes small and somewhat pinkish; skin flesh-coloured or dull pinkish white; flesh white; cooks well, and is of the best quality for the table. It has proven thus far very hardy, and is said by Mr Bresee to be fully a week earlier than his famous Early Rose. A very limited quantity of this most recommendable kind was sold in New York last season; it having been held back for a better stock until this season, but so great was the desire to possess it, that what was sold fetched 50 dollars (10 guineas) per single tuber ! Incredible as this may seem, it is a well-authenticated fact, and will, we believe, quite reconcile our English friends to paying the otherwise great but now comparatively modest sum of 6s. per pound, 7 lb. for 40s. We believe we are the only holders of this Potato in Great Britain".
This certainly does appear a "great" sum for a pound of Potatoes, but in the days when new Peas are being retailed at 7s. 6d. per half-pint, it must be accepted as a "comparatively modest sum." The purchase of these new Potatoes in the first instance, and the cost, added to the risk of importing them, in the second, no doubt fully justifies such a high price.