A trend, a blooming business

Is the sale of orchids and exotic plants a reliable indicator of the marketís evolution in the nineteenth century? The Linden Companies seem to present every key step of the industrial sector: establishment of a business capital, promotion, the development of facilities, delocalization and repurchase of competitors, regular supply of raw materials, trend effect, and a constant search for novelty. Let us not forget the decline of this company shortly before the First World War: a swan song that will be remembered for its costly court cases and the decrease of prices following a declining demand and an overabundant production.

In 1846, Linden launches his first company for the introduction of exotic plants in Limperstsberg (Luxembourg), using the resources that he collected in Venezuela and Columbia and that are regularly restocked by his associate Nicolas Funck and stepbrother Louis-Joseph Schlim. The description of these first imports by eminent botanist John Lindley grants him a promotion that he relays via catalogues.

Later on, in 1850, Linden delocalizes in Brussels, where better commercial perspectives await him. In 1869-1870, he settles in Ghent too, where he buys back the Verschaffelt Company and becomes Louis Van Houtteís amiable competitor. Ten years on, he creates a Parisian branch that allows him to reach the French market more efficiently. By the end of the 1880ís, on the Óle du Levant and in the region of the Oranger in CavaliŤre (HyŤres), Linden will develop - with the help of Edouard Oltlet - the cultivation of the palm trees that border the French Riviera.

Lindenís plant capital increases with the expeditions he supervises throughout the world. This will initiate a constantly renewed and rare offer as well as some new trends. Some of Lindenís collectors became famous in their own name, and gave their name to some orchids. Amongst the latter, let us mention the Cattleya trianae (Josť Triana), the Phragmipedium roezlii (Benedict Roezl) or still, the Odontoglossum wallisii (Gustave Wallis). Once again in partnership with Edouard Otlet, the horticulturist will also finance an expedition in the Congo led by Auguste Linden, his eldest son.

Lucien Linden, Jeanís second son, will take over the management of the family business and will continue their economic expansion. He will witness the decline of the commerce of exotic plants in Europe and the decay of a continent that will soon be torn by the First World War.