Above are some great examples of Apple Case Art and Australiana. Labels began to appear in large numbers on wooden crates around 1920 and were only superseded in the 1960s by cardboard cartons. Although the designs were for the most part basic, and amateurish, they have been described as ‘industrial folk art’, as well as Australian historic ephemera.
- Australia’s first apple case label was printed in 1913 in the US for Geo. Heatherbell & Sons and the early labels were heavily influenced by the designs of California’s orange crates.
- Over the years there has been an abundance of variety of fruit art labels and designs featuring animals, birds, landscapes, maps, people and typography. There was even a Boomerang brand label which urged people to return for more!
These decorative labels often provided Australian orchardists with a distinctive edge on the competitive overseas market. Many export agents believed that fruit wholesalers overseas were attracted to cases decorated with the best looking labels. However, some designers dared to be different, such as the Rooster Brand label designed by Max Angus in 1952, which was heavily influenced by the work of French painter, printmaker sculptor Henri Matisse.
Extensive collections of apple case and pear case labels are on display at the Huon Apple and Heritage Museum, in New Norfolk, Tasmania. The Museum showcases Tasmania’s apple industry which dates back to 1804, when apple trees were planted at York Town in the state’s north. By 1915, Tasmania boasted about 4,420,000 apple trees, however over the years there has been an unfortunate decline in apple orchards – not only in Tasmania, but in other apple growing districts around Australia.
- Tasmania often called ‘The Apple Isle’ is home of Tamar Valley Co-op ‘Wombat’ brand.
- Its standardized fruit label is Australia’s second known registered apple case label and originally printed ca. 1919.
And remember – An Apple a Day …. Keeps an Orchard Going
“Is It Art?”