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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Label Makers: 1950

The Label Makers: 1950

Columbus, Georgia, circa 1950, and a print shop making fruit crate labels, back in the days when apples and oranges had something like brand identity. 4x5 inch acetate negative from the Shorpy News Photo Archive. View full size.

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Years ago when I was just out of High School in England, one of my first jobs was a stacker in a print shop. To this day I can still "fluff" fan and line up a ream.

"Back in the days"?

My last gig from which I retired (yet again)just a few years ago was running a shop that made labels for anything & everything, from fighter jets to bananas. We made millions of labels for produce boxes in quantities that filled 18-wheelers. Some apples & oranges may have no individual identity when they hit the supermarket bin, but the growers are still proud enough to mark their boxes & crates when they leave the farm. Their orders for labels gave us our record-profit months and paid for two of my five Jaguars. It was that particular market segment that made our business attractive to a much larger outfit for a merger. Last I looked in 2011, those growers were still VERY picky about the design & printing quality of those labels.

Cutting remarks

Two cutter operators working in tandem. Nearest cutter is taking the long trims through the press sheet (and removing the waste from the outer long edges), farther cutter is taking the final trim on the finished pieces, which are then being stacked behind him. At the foot of the near operator is the pedal that brings down the clamp to hold the stack of paper firmly while the blade makes the cut. The blade comes down when the operator places each hand on the two widely spaced control buttons. If the paper is not clamped adequately, the stack pulls ("draws") as the blade comes down, leading to inaccurate cuts. A cutter operator in the course of day can easily pick up a total of 4000 lbs of paper.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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