This section is from the book "The Fruit Manual: Containing The Descriptions And Synonyms Of The Fruits And Fruit Trees Of Great Britain", by Robert Hogg. Also available from Amazon: The Fruit Manual.
Fruit, below medium size, two inches and a half wide, and two inches high; round and somewhat flattened, even and regular in its outline, and having a resemblance in shape to the old Nonpareil. Skin, greenish yellow, with an orange or brownish tinge next the sun, sprinkled over with russet dots and thin patches of russet. Eye, half open, with erect segments, which are reflexed at the tips, set in a shallow plaited basin. Stamens, marginal; tube, short, funnel-shaped. Stalk, over half an inch long, stout, and inserted in a saucerlike cavity. Flesh, greenish, very juicy and tender, with an agreeable, though not a rich flavour. Cells, ovate or roundish ovate; axile, open.
A dessert apple, which keeps till January or February.
Fruit, small, about two inches and a half in diameter, and the same in height; abrupt Pearmain-shaped, obscurely ribbed, and narrow at the apex. Skin, pale yellow, strewed with patches of russet, and covered with minute russety dots on the shady side, but deep reddish orange, streaked with deeper colour, and strewed with minute russety dots, on the side exposed to the sun. Eye, large and open, with reflexed segments, and set in a wide, deep, and angular basin. Stamens, median; tube, conical. Stalk, slender, three-quarters of an inch long, and obliquely inserted, with frequently a fleshy protuberance on one side of it, in a rather shallow cavity, which is lined with green russet. Flesh, yellowish, firm, crisp, very juicy, sweet, and lacking acidity, which gives it a sickly flavour. Cells, obovate or ovate; axile.
An apple of second-rate quality, suitable either for culinary purposes or the dessert; in use from November to March.
The tree is an upright grower and a free bearer, but requires to be grown in good soil.
This is distinguished from the Golden Winter Pearmain by being more conical in shape, narrow at the apex, having a fleshy protuberance at the base of the stalk, and in having the tube conical instead of funnel-shaped, and the stamens always median.
Fruit, small, two inches wide, and about the same in height; roundish, inclining to oblong, regularly and handsomely shaped, without inequalities or angles on the sides. Skin, rich yellow, assuming a deep golden tinge when perfectly ripe, with a deeper tinge where it has been exposed to the sun; the whole surface is strewed with russety dots, which are largest on the sunny side, and intermixed with these are numerous imbedded pearly specks. Eye, small and open, with long segments, placed in a shallow, smooth, and even basin. Stamens, median or marginal; tube, funnel-shaped. Stalk, from half an inch to an inch in length, inserted in a pretty deep cavity. Flesh, yellow, firm, crisp, very juicy, and sweet, with a brisk vinous and particularly fine flavour. Cells, ovate, pointed; axile, closed.
This is one of the oldest and one of the most highly esteemed of our dessert apples. It is in season from November till April. The tree is a healthy grower, attaining about the middle size, and it is an excellent bearer. When grown on the dwarfing stocks it makes handsome bushes and espaliers.
Although it is not recorded at so early a period as some others, there is no doubt it is very old. It is not, however, the "Golden Pippin" of Parkinson, for he says "it is the greatest, and best of all sorts of Pippins." It was perhaps this circumstance that led Mr. Knight to remark, that from the description Parkinson has given of the apples cultivated in his time, it is evident that those now known by the same names are different, and probably new varieties. But this is not evidence of such being the case, for I find there were two sorts of Golden Pippin, the "Great Golding," and the "Small Golding, or Bayford," both of which are mentioned by Leonard Meager, and there is no doubt that the "Golden Pippin" of Parkinson was the "Great Golding." Ralph Austin calls it "a very speciall apple and great bearer." Evelyn states that Lord Clarendon cultivated it, but it was only as a cider apple; for he says, "at Lord Clarendon's seat at Swallowfield, Berks, there is an orchard of 1,000 Golden and other cider Pippins." In his Treatise on Cider he frequently notices it as a cider apple; but never in any place that I can recollect of as a dessert fruit. In the Pomona, he says, "About London and the southern tracts, the Pippin, and especially the Golden, is esteemed for making the most delicious cider, most wholesome, and most restorative." Switzer calls it "the most antient, as well as most excellent apple that is."
Towards the end of last century Mr. Thomas Andrew Knight entertained a theory that the Golden Pippin, and all the old varieties of English apples, were in the last stage of decay, and that a few years would witness their total extinction. This belief he founded upon the degenerate state of these varieties in the Herefordshire orchards, and the opinion that no variety of apple will continue to exist longer than 200 years, after which period the original tree and all its progeny will fall to decay. It would be needless to enter into any further discussion upon a subject concerning which so much has already been said and written, as there is sufficient evidence to confute that theory. The Pearmain, which is the oldest English apple on record, shows no symptom of decay, neither do the Catshead, London Pippin, or Winter Quoining, those only of the old varieties having disappeared from our orchards which were not worth perpetuating, their places being supplied by others infinitely superior.
It was towards the end of the last century that this doctrine was first announced, and though many of the old diseased trees of the Herefordshire orchards, of which Mr. Knight spoke, have passed away, we have the Golden Pippin still, in all the luxuriance of early youth, where attention has been paid to irs cultivation and it is grown in a soil congenial to it, and it exhibits as little indication of decay as any of the varieties which Mr. Knight raised to supply the vacancy he expected it to create.
With the best intention for their improvement Mr. Knight did unconsciously a vast amount of injury to the Herefordshire orchards by promulgating this error. Those who were influenced by his opinion naturally ceased to propagate and to plant those grand old varieties which made the reputation and created the wealth of these orchards. The existing trees were allowed to fall into decay and neglect, and the varieties which Mr. Knight raised with the expectation that they would take their places failed to realise the hopes of the planters, and so between two stools the Herefordshire orchards suffered. Instead of persistently adhering to the Fox-whelp, the Red-streak, Skyrme's Kernel, and such other varieties as the orchardist had formerly relied upon, he simply began to plant any strong-growing tree he found in his seed-beds, and which promised to fill a blank in his orchards.
But this alarm of Mr. Knight for the safety of the Golden Pippin, and his fear of its extinction, were based upon no new doctrine, for we find Mortimer a hundred years before equally lamenting the Kentish Pippin. After speaking of manures, etc, for the regeneration of fruit trees, he says, "I shall be glad if this account may put any upon the trial of raising that excellent fruit the Kentish Pippin, which else, I fear, will be lost. For I find in several orchards, both in Kent, Essex, and Hertfordshire, old trees of that sort, but I can find no young ones to prosper. A friend of mine tried a great many experiments in Hertfordshire about raising them, and could never get them to thrive, though he had old trees in the same orchard that grew and bore very well. I likewise tried several experiments myself, and have had young trees thrive so well as to make many shoots of a yard long in a year, but these young shoots were always blasted the next year, or cankered; which makes me think that the ancients had some particular way of raising them, that we have lost the knowledge of." Although this was written in the beginning of last century, we have the Kentish Pippin still, as vigorous and healthy as ever it was.