Monday, August 31, 2009

Labels from Sunny California: The art on the produce box

Slapped on wooden boxes and shipped around the world, the bright and bold graphic designs on California fruit boxes eventually attracted attention  as much for the for the art as for the produce. A good label, said a 1924 edition of Blue Anchor Magazine of the California Fruit Exchange, was one that would “dignify the pack” — it must catch the buyer's attention, bringing the product to mind.

Nearly all paper labels were produced by San Francisco's tremendous lithographic industry, the first labels being created by superimposing up to six, even 12, separate colors, one after the other, to form a single image. The images in the De Young collection date from the 1930-1940’s. Created by anonymous artists, the designs still represent some of the best advertising art of the last century. They presented California as the golden state, overflowing with Nature’s bounty, warm, healthy and prosperous. During the cold and fearful years of the depression or the storms of the dust bowl, California must have seemed like Paradise.

Images from the De Young image base – all items part of the Auschenbach collection
More images up at:

1 comment:

Zoomie said...

Apparently, exotic was a selling point, too - note the turban and the gondolas! :-) We have a label like this, a gift from our local grocer when she sold her business - she took down all the box ends she had used to decorate her store and gave one to each regular customer. Ours is a little the worse for wear but we love it anyway.