It has great Historic form with its hangdog falls, and gives the impression of an earlier 19th century Hybrid, this has a lot to do with its close to species pedigree, so its form is right on the money. The Sass 1934 price list calls the colour violet carmine (Ridgway colour), which I'd call the colour of a very good port.
Very Early American Intermediate Irises mainly were results of experimental crosses that the Sass Brothers and other imaginative hybridisers made by crossing an imported dwarf form under the name 'Iris pumilla' and their selected dwarf crosses, with the tall bearded species I.trojana and I.mesopotamica and the varieties Amas and Caterina. (AIS bulletin #38 January, 1931.) 'Red Orchid' is one of eighteen Intermediate Irises registered by the Sass Brothers in the nineteen thirties and a good proportion of their intermediates proved to be rebloomers, unfortunately 'Red Orchid' is not one of them.
I recently purchased a catalogue, 'Cooleys Gardens' 1938, and on page 42 (just click on the page displayed below) under the heading "And now Indian Summer in the Iris Garden" you can see it lists 'Red Orchid' and many other Sass Brother's introductions, also listed are several introductions by Eric Nies,of Spuria breeding fame, and two introductions of Clint McDade of Tennessee who was recorded in the 1939 Checklist as "An Iris breeder particularly fond of Autumn-blooming Irises. Has raised some seedlings and imported many European varieties." The page gives the commercial endorsement to the AIS July 1930 bulletin information.
Irises grown by Robert Wayman, Bayside New York 1936:
RED ORCHID A new Sass rich red toned intermediate, the reddest of all to date. Velvety falls with deep orange beard.
Hill Iris & Peony Farm Lafontaine, Kansas, 1945
RED ORCHID (J. Sass 1934) Very red intermediate, rich violet carmine......$0.25
From Cooleys Gardens 1938 Catalogue
RED ORCHID Very early flowering intermediate, glowing like a coal fire in the morning and evening light. Deep red in effect, violet carmine technically, it is so recent as to be hardly known as yet but certain to be popular when the public has seen it in flower. Height 28 inches.
AIS Checklist 1939
Red Orchid IB 28" E R7D (Sass J,1934) Sass 1934; Tip Top 1938; Wass 1938; R., 1933 ((R pumila x ... ) x (DR TB seedling), HM., A.I.S 1936; Bull A.I.S. 63: 64. Oct 1936
As a matter of interest The Greater Omaha Iris Society has a great web site which includes information on the Sass Memorial Gardens.
A big Hat Tip to Phil Edinger and Mike Unser for their candid observations and discussions in this regard.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter