U.S. # 5004
2015 49¢ Watermelons
Westward expansion in the 1850s fast-tracked the large-scale produce trade. New, more efficient methods of harvesting, preserving, packing, and shipping these goods soon emerged. A new trend in marketing took hold as producers branded their products with colorful and informative crate labels.
The 19th century agriculture boom was the equivalent of “green gold.” Thousands of growers competed with each other to sell their produce and brand recognition became highly important. Crate, or “case-end” labels not only needed to identify a container’s contents, they had to sell the product before it spoiled.
A vivid label got the buyer’s initial attention. Eye-catching artwork conveyed a sense of freshness, flavor, and health. Recognizable logos told the consumer where the goods came from and who had produced them. If the quality of the crate’s contents matched the label’s impact, a successful brand could be established. Logos for brands like SUNKIST® began to speak for themselves.
The introduction of preprinted cardboard boxes in the 1950s began the decline of the crate label. Though wooden crates might still be used today for heavier products like pineapple or watermelon, colorful paper crate labels are rare. But while the nostalgic “case-ends” are no longer used, the high-impact labeling method they pioneered remains a marketing staple.
The art for this stamp was inspired by vintage shipping crate labels, seed packets, and catalogs inspired. It was designed and drawn by Michael Doret along with the rest of the stamps in the set.
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: 100,000,000 stamps
The 2015 Summer Harvest stamps weren’t the first U.S. issues 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.