Sunday, September 4, 2016

Take Your Pick --- Day 5/197

Walk: Trader Joe's, Legion of Honor
Distance: 3 miles

Vintage orange crate labels from the current (blah) Legion of Honor Show The Wild West: Plains to the Pacific

Beginning in the late 1880's the U.S. was evolving from a local market economy to mass merchandising, rail systems were being built and color lithography was becoming more affordable. The first rail cars full of orange crates were being shipped from Southern California to the East - often arriving in winter when the sunny images on the labels were like looking through a window to the West and Sunny California.

Growers and canneries' sales and reputations depended in no small part on their labels.  Labels needed to identify the product and attract the buyers' eye in the first place and then, if the buyer was satisfied with the quality of the product, to assure the buyer he was getting the same good brand in the future.

The importance of citrus labels - hence the amount of artistry that went into them - continued strong until the late 1950's when corrugated cardboard boxes were introduced.  Since all the needed information could be printed directly onto the cardboard, labels began being phased out. Today only grapes still ship in wooden crates and account for the very few fruit labels used today, but the label design is greatly simplified, usually into block letters on a colored background.

Those old labels sure are purty though, and some packing warehouses never threw them out, so now there are a goodly number of dedicated fruit crate label collectors.

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