This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Andrew S. Fuller thus writes, in one of his numerous papers, about currants: "Persons unacquainted with the different varieties are frequently puzzled to determine which to purchase. The Cherry is the largest red variety in cultivation; it is a rank, vigorous grower, and requires extra care in order to secure a crop every year. The fruit is not equal in quality to some of the smaller sorts, still it is a good currant.
The Versailles, as sold by almost every nurseryman in this country and Europe, is so near like the cherry that we have never yet seen the man who could pick out the plants or fruit from the latter, except on his own grounds, where there were labelled plants for a guide.
For the next best we would name Fertile de Pallnau, a fine, vigorous-growing variety, intermediate between the cherry and the old red Dutch. The fruit is large and handsome, and the plants produce large crops without appearing to become stunted or diseased, as is frequently the case with the cherry.
Buist's long-bunched red is also an excellent sort, very similar to the old red Dutch, of which it is a seedling.
Of course we would not omit the red Dutch from any collection, however small, for we have nothing better in quality among the red varieties.
First among the white varieties are white Dutch and white grape; and, in fact, we may stop there, for there are none better. The white grape is a little the largest variety, and the plants wonderfully prolific, but it is not so vigorous a grower as the white Dutch.
The white Provence differs from the white Dutch by having a portion of its leaves margined with white, and the young shoots a little more stocky, the buds not being so far apart.
Dana's white is so near like its parent, the white grape, that we have never been able to detect a difference, and our plants came direct from the originator.
Victoria is a late variety, the bunches very long, fruit of medium size and of lighter color than the red Dutch.
Champagne, as its name indicates, is a very pale red or pink-colored sort.
Prince Albert is a late sort, bunches short, and usually not well filled. Fruit red, and not particularly valuable.
Gloire des Sablons is a handsome striped variety of no value except as a curiosity.
Bed Provence is the most vigorous growing sort we have, but the fruit ripens late, is very acid and small, and of no value.
La Hative and La Fertile may be called abbreviated editions of the Cherry, belonging to the same class, having large, coarse, thick, dark-green leaves. The fruit is large, bunches small, and berries comparatively few in number.
There are several other sorts, such as Knight's sweet, Knight's Early, and Gon-doin White and Red: but they possess no merits not found in the first few sorts named.
Among the black currants, the Black Naples is, without doubt, the best. Bang-up-Black, Old English Black, Ogden's Grape, Variegated-Leaved Black, Hetero-phyila, and several other varieties of this species, may be grown for the sake of helping to make a long list; but it would be difficult to find any other reasonable excuse for doing so.