Growers first started using fruit and vegetable crate labels in the late 19th century. Labels were glued on the ends of wooden crates to identify the contents, place or origin and the packer’s name. These labels were shipped all over the nation for nearly 70 years.
Packers sold their produce with colorful, attractive and racially offensive labels in order to generate more business at the local market. In the late 1950’s, crates were replaced by pre-printed boxes so crate labels were no longer used. The leftover labels were gathered up by collectors, dealers and old orchard owners.
I collect crate labels from the pre-civil rights era. While these labels are racist and offensive, I appreciate them for their artwork. I also believe that they are important historical artifacts to preserve as a reminder that this type of product labeling should never be tolerated again.
Below is a small sampling of the Original Black Crate Labels that are a part of The Museum Of UnCut Funk Collection.