95 days, indeterminate
— In our search for important historical varieties to preserve and protect for future gardeners to enjoy, ‘Trophy’ is one that has been on our "To Do List" for years. The regular leaf vines of 'Trophy' produce good amounts of medium-sized, four to twelve ounce, flattened-globe to oblate shaped red colored fruits. The fruits are also firm, solid but juicy, and mildly sweet. A good variety for processing and fresh slicing.
Beginning in 1847
Dr. Hand, a physician from Baltimore County, began experimenting with tomato hybridization. It is said that 'Trophy' is the result of crossing 'Large Red' with 'Early Red Smooth'[9,10]
followed by twenty-three years of selecting and stabilizing. This work culminated in a distinctly new type of tomato that was of considerable merit for the time. In details now clouded by time, Dr. Hand’s lawyer son, T. J. Hand[5,9]
supplied seed to well-known horticulturalist, sanitary engineer, and author,
Col. George E. Waring, Jr.[4,5,11]
of Rhode Island.
In an unusual method for introducing a new plant variety, Col. Waring, a regular contributor and advertiser in the popular "American Horticulturist" magazine, promoted a national competition. With hopes of winning a one-hundred dollar prize for raising the best 'Trophy' fruit, entrants purchased seeds for twenty-five cents each or packets of twenty seeds for five dollars.[4,5]
(For a modern perspective, that five dollars in 1870 is equivalent to $87.78 in 2016.)
With national exposure, people planting it all over the country, and peer reviews by famed seedsmen (see Peter Henderson's article below), by the winter of 1871, the 'Trophy' tomato had been produced in such quantities as to find it listed in many of the major seed company catalogs. American Agriculturist magazine even worked out a deal with Colonel Waring whereby subscribers would receive a packet of 'Trophy' seeds as a premium for new or renewed subscriptions.
It remained very popular from 1872 until about 1926
and is said to be involved in the parentage of most varieties introduced over the following twenty-five years.
Our seed stock was grown out from seed obtained from the Seed Savers Exchange whose original sample was from USDA accession number PI 636255. Each packet contains approximately 20 seeds.