U.S. # 5004-07
2015 49¢ Summer Harvest
Before the supermarkets of the 1950s, fruits and vegetables were sold directly out of the wooden crates they were packed in. By the 1880s, refrigerated transport on coast-to-coast railroads meant those crates could travel farther than ever. Competition among growers escalated, inspiring the creative crate-labeling industry that flourished for 70 years.
To draw customers to a brand, producers needed enticing marketing. They used colorful, idealized images of fruit orchards and countryside farms to convey the natural and wholesome origins of their products being shipped nationwide. Firmly glued to the end of wooden crates, the vivid posters spoke for the product inside.
Over time, the design focus shifted. The landscapes of the late 19th century labels were replaced with more direct marketing slogans and images. A healthy child holds out a peach, suggesting the customer try it. A product’s health benefits might be boasted in a slogan or brand name. As time went on, less and less art and more product information appeared on the labels. And eventually, cardboard boxes made the crates and their labels obsolete.
Modern advertising occasionally revisits the old styles found on crate labels. And often, these original designs are reprinted in other forms – turning vintage marketing into contemporary art.
Vintage shipping crate labels, seed packets, and catalogs inspired the stamp art for the Summer Harvest stamps. Michael Doret designed and drew the stamps.
Value: 49¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate
Issued: July 11, 2015 at the California State Fair, Cal Expo
First Day City: Sacramento, CA
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Printed by: Ashton Potter
Method: Offset printing in booklets of 20
Perforation: Serpentine Die Cut 10 ¾ x 10 ¼
Quantity Printed: 400,000,000 stamps
These aren’t the first stamps to take inspiration from plant marketing art. In 2013, the U.S.P.S. issued a set of 10 Vintage Seed Packet stamps (U.S. #4754-63) picturing a variety of colorful flowers.