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Collection Exhibition Themes
J.M.L. Brand fruit crate label
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
A woman, an eagle, idealised fruit, and a pastoral backdrop: this 1890s label evokes patriotic imagery and shows an idyllic rural America that (if it ever really existed) was disappearing under the weight of industrialization. As Watsonville's surrounds became dotted with apple orchards, packing and shipping the fruit from the trees became a big part of the region's economy. In 1908, there were over thirty packing houses in the area.
Physical Description
label. paper.
Date Made:

Fruit crate labels began to be designed at the end of the 19th century. As refrigerated railroad cars helped make the long distance shipping of perishable produce such as fruits and vegetables possible, the industry developed labels so shippers and merchants could more easily identify what was in the crates. These vibrant and colorful paper labels were pasted onto the boxes they shipped around the country and were a lively mobile advertisement. Labels featured a wide range of designs. The fruit in question-be it an orange, lemon, apple, strawberry or something else-was usually depicted on the label, but that wasn't always the case. Labels drew on a wide range of iconographic images-from idyllic pastoral scenes, women, animals, and patriotic imagery-in order to entice people to buy fruit.

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