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The American Orchid Society

AOS Receives Rare Books

Benjamin Singer, a leading orchidist from the Netherlands, has donated $100,000 and one of the finest orchid libraries in the world to the American Orchid Society’s international orchid center, which is currently under construction in Delray Beach, Fla.

An avid orchid grower for more than 40 years, Singer’s library and collections include the historical records for the oldest orchid society in the world, the Dutch Orchidophillen Club, founded in 1889. Along with books, catalogues, and magazines, his artifacts feature early 20th century Art Nouveau glass from Nancy, France, with orchid motifs by such masters as Daumé and Gallé, as well as porcelain and pottery vases with orchid ornamentation by famous Dutch artists.

The son of Frederik Singer, a renowned tulip grower, and Ida Valentijn, Ben Singer was born in 1943 in the Netherlands. He grew up as an orchid apprentice to G. A. de Jong, the father of the modern Dutch orchid nursery. He attracted international attention when he bought 20 miniature cymbidium bulbs from the Paul F. Miller Collection for $5 each, brought them back to Holland, and meristemmed them by the hundreds of thousands. When he introduced them to the public in 1969, he established a profitable new industry for miniature cymbidiums in the cut flower and potted plant markets, which he dominated for six years.

A professional orchidist for 18 years, winner of 10 First Class Certificate awards and 100 Awards of Merit, Singer finally sold his commercial business and has since logged over 5,000 hours in airplanes researching orchids in Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand, South Africa, and the United States. In donating his priceless collections to the American Orchid Society, Singer seeks to pass along the artifacts and knowledge that gave him such pleasure and success.

"Orchids and orchid people are the finest things that I know," he says. "My gift is my way of thanking them all for a lifetime of enjoyment." "Mr. Singer’s donation to the international orchid center will not only enhance our facility, it will offer the public its only chance to view such priceless artifacts," said Lee Cooke, Executive Director of the American Orchid Society. "We are extremely fortunate to be the recipient of his collection, and are excited by the depth and scope his generous contribution adds to our new center.

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