Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Richmond Fruit and Vegetable Can Labels

Powhatan Brand Apple Sauce
Can label 5.5 x 8.5 " dated 1938
H. P. Taylor, Jr., Inc.
The H. P. Taylor company was located at 1 S. 14th St. ca. 1925-1940.

Richmond Fruit and Vegetable Can Labels is the first in a series of articles based on the paper ephemera collection of Tom Ray.

Ephemera is defined as something of no lasting significance or value and meant to be discarded after use. 

Paper ephemera comes in a nearly endless assortment of examples from ticket stubs to menus, local maps, letter and bill heads, and obsolete forms such as ink blotters.
Photographs, calendars and postcards can also be included. For the baby boomer generation our first foray into collecting was often postage stamps - a world wide common example of paper ephemera since Queen Victoria's reign. And, thankfully, not quite fallen victim to email.

Collecting paper ephemera documents local history in primary sources. Vintage postcards illustrate street scenes, buildings, events that might not exist in other formats. Old letter head and envelopes preserve company information and often an illustration of a commercial building. Can and crate labels not only document grocers and food distributors but show in vivid lithographic prints the beginning of modern commercial food production. 

As noted, some of the labels are dated. The earliest here is 1926 although at least one label appears to be earlier. The labels remind us of the ever changing nature of American advertising from the brand names to the brand images including African Americans, native Americans, historic houses, etc. Taken in context, these items remind us of long lost objects from our past. The ephemeral art in the everyday life of our parents and grandparents comes alive. The impact of processed food in our recipes and diets is uniquely documented. 

Technology has changed both packaging formats and food production. Although canned fruits and vegetables are still produced we're much more likely to choose fresh or frozen products. So these colorful labels become examples of true paper ephemera. The examples here were selected because they were from Richmond based companies. They are part of a larger collection of labels from Virginia growers and distributors, particularly for apples and tomatoes.

- Tom.

Bellwood Light Sweet Royal Anne Cherries 
Can label 4.5 x 13"
W. H. Williams & Co.
The W. H. Williams & Co. was located at 20 S. 14th St. ca. 1935-1960.

Deer Head Brand Apple Sauce
Can label 4.5 x 11"
Royal Club Grocers, Inc.
Royal Club Grocers, Inc. was located at 1323-1327 E. Cary St. ca. 1940.

Fairfax Hall Brand Solid Pack Apples
Can label 4.5 x 13"
Wholesale Grocers Exchange, Inc.
Label printer: Stecher-Traung, Rochester, N.Y.

Fancy apples
Crate label 16" diameter
Blalock Fruit & Produce Co., Inc.
Apple image signed: G. P. Read, N. Y.

Home Spun Brand Halves Tree Ripened Peaches
Can label 4.5 x 13"
Phillips-Lewis Co., Inc.
Label printer: Stecher-Traung, Rochester, N.Y.
The Phillips-Lewis company was located at 1329-1331 E. Cary St. ca. 1930-1950.

Old Virginia Potomac River Herring Roe
Can label 3.75 x 9.75"
Fleming-Spencer Co., Inc.
Label printer: Simpson & Doeller Co., Baltimore, Md.

Mayfield Brand Early June Peas
Can label 4.5 x 11"
Gunn-Ellis Co., Inc.
The Gunn-Ellis company was located at 1421 E. Cary St. ca. 1925-1950.

Just Suits brand crushed corn
Can label 4.5 x 11.25" dated 1926
Wholesale Grocers Exchange, Inc.
Label printer: Stecher Lith. Co., Rochester, N.Y.

Mayfield Brand Triple Succotash
Can label 4.5 x 11.25"
Gunn-Ellis Co., Inc.

Mayfield Brand Tomatoes
Can label 5 x 14"
Gunn-Ellis Co., Inc.

Pocahontas Brand Pure Tomato Juice
Can label 4.5 x 11.25"
H. P. Taylor, Jr., Inc.
The H. P. Taylor company was located at 1 S. 14th St. ca. 1925-1940.

Pocohontas Evaporated Milk.
Distributed by Taylor & Sledd, Inc. Food Brokers, Richmond, VA, 23228, copyright 1963.

Powhatan Brand Apple Rings
Can label 4.5 x 11" dated 1938
H. P. Taylor, Jr., Inc.

Powhatan Brand Apple Sauce
Can label 5.5 x 8.5 " dated 1938
H. P. Taylor, Jr., Inc.

Powhatan Brand Cream Style Sugar Corn
Can label 4.5 x 11" dated 1938
H. P. Taylor, Jr., Inc.

Red Top Brand Tomatoes
Can label 4.5 x 10"
Better Foods, Inc.

Stuart Crest Brand Fancy Apple Sauce
Can label 4.5 x 11"
W. M. Gary Grocery Co., Inc.
The Gary Grocery company was located at 1411 E. Cary St. ca. 1940-1960.

West-Over Brand Apple Sauce
Can label 4.5 x 11" dated 1930
Taylor & Sledd, Inc.
Label printer: Stecher-Traung, Rochester, N. Y.
The Taylor-Sledd company was located at 2201 E. Cary St. 

 Winner Brand Fancy Tomatoes
Can label 4.5 x 13"
Chas. E. Brauer Co., Inc.
Label printed in Baltimore, Md.
The Brauer company was located at 19 S. 14th St. ca. 1920-1960.

--- Tom Ray is a compulsive collector of Southern folk art, NC pottery, Richmond post cards and ephemera. For over 20 years he was a librarian at the Library of Virginia, retiring in 2016 as the Collections Management Coordinator. He co-authored "Greetings from Richmond" with Ray Bonis. Selections from Tom's collections will be highlighted over the coming months.


Anonymous said...

HPTaylor Jr was my great grandfather. He,was,also the Taylor of Taylor and Sledd, Inc, a major food broker in Richmond up into the 1970s. The Sledd family is,still in Richmond. We see that name in real estate. H P Taylor's son was Henry P Taylor-no III for some reason, born 1891, A McGuire school graduate, a UVA graduate, a WWI veteran, and a canner/farmer his entire adult life, as President of Taylor and Caldwell, Inc at Walkerton. His labels included York River brands, London Hill Brands, Vite em In brands. An ardent FDR hater, he made some money off of his nemesis canning 'relief beef in the thirties to send West to feed dust bowl victims. In the 1950s he was President of the National Canners Association and as such recorded a verbal essay for Edward R Murrow's radio show This I Believe. My goodness what memories those labels brought back

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