I grew up in Yakima, WA. The primary agricultural product of that city, which lists itself as The Fruitbowl Of The Nation (because it’s also a great place to find grapes/wine, peaches, pears, hops, and asparagus) is apples, so I’ve seen a lot of apple warehouses and as a result a lot of apple box labels. The museum in Yakima houses an apple box label collection and hosts a swapmeet for collectors of labels (brings out the spendy rarities).
I didn’t start collecting them until maybe two years ago, to be honest. Prior to that I had bought a couple from one fruit company which had a warehouse 4 miles from where I grew up for a distant friend who is a distant relative of the company’s founder; I also gave as a gift to a significant other a framed label from the warehouse that her grandmother worked at in the 1940s-1950s. These works of art passing through my hands made me a bit interested in getting some for myself.
I’m told that label collectors often focus on particular warehouses or regions. I decided I would go with the niche market of Yakima Valley fruit evaporators and dehydrators, rather than regular packing and shipping fruit warehouses: Grandview Dehydrating Company, Valley Evaporating Company, and Washington Dehydrated Foods Company.
There is one label I know of I’m still in search of (”Golden Ring” apples from Washington Dehydrated Foods) so I’m taking a pause from searching for labels since I’ve found everything else that’s readily available. I do look when I’m in antique stores and rummage sales, you never know what you’ll find and some labels get pretty freaking pricy (plus there are some which seem not to be available through the online dealers that show up in person).
I frame them so they can be seen and admired, plus it keeps them from getting lost in boxes and stuff. My first foray into framing was actually a repair job; I got a framed label for my friend out of the Free box at a yardsale and it had been put there because the glass and backing needed replacement. The ‘shabby chic’ wood frame itself was pretty awesome and the label was in good condition plus very unique. One dollar at a thriftstore to get an unused cheesy frame of the right size pane and back, a piece of colorful paper out of the craft bin as a background, and it was ready to ship. (It’s still propped on the recipient’s kitchen counter, I’m told.) When I got into the place I live now, I wanted to decorate the bedroom with my box label art, so I have 13 pieces up across three walls… and have some spare frames tucked away for the next time I see a label that fits my interests, or when I realize a new interest. 🙂