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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.

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