Monday, April 29, 2013
The history of fruit wrappers dovetails nicely with the early practice of graphic design long before this term was ever coined. The practice of wrapping fruit with tissue papers "began as a means of controlling the spread of fungal decay" according to Maurice Rickards in his book Encyclopedia of Ephemera. They were originally introduced for wrapping citrus fruits like oranges and lemons in the late 19th century, but were later adopted for apricots, tomatoes and other produce. Soon growers discovered that these thin square paper wrappers could be effective marketing tools when printed with their identification. A typical wrapper would include the growers name, the brand name, the country of origin and an illustration. They were normally printed in three to five colors on large rotary presses with rubber plates; accounting for imprecise registration and loss of detail, similar to the printing found on old matchbooks. This naive printing style might have been considered less desirable to some; particularly in the wake of the artistic printing movement which was also ongoing in the late 19th century. However their attraction must have appealed to many people at that time, or their collections would never have survived this long. This particularly nice collection happens to belong to Didier and Gabriel, who are cousins and passionate collectors from France. They began collecting the citrus wrappers in 2006 and have accumulated nearly 15000 already. Their site Legufrulabelofolie is great fun and updated frequently, but proceed with caution. I would include all of their wrappers here if I could.