About Our Artwork

The citrus crate labels featured in Local Color Collection are just a few examples of hundreds of pieces original artwork in use from the early 1900's through about 1950. 

In the first half of the 20th century, Florida's world-famous citrus industry was made up of many small, family-owned groves. In the early days, oranges were packed in wooden crates to go to market. Each individual grower created its own label. Lithograph companies around the United States created and manufactured the labels.

Many artists were German immigrants of outstanding skill, taste, and talent. Citrus companies commissioned the artwork for a fee and became the owners of the work. Individual artists are typically not known, but it's not uncommon to spot the name of a lithograph company printed in tiny letters on the front edge of a label.  

The colors in each label are more than an aesthetic choice: they were selected specifically to denote a grade of fruit and registration with the Florida Citrus Commission. A predominantly blue label indicated Grade A fruit;  red denoted Grade B; and green was used for Grade C.

As works of art, citrus crate labels are as sophisticated as any commercial artwork of the time. And as a body of work, the labels reflect Florida's unique heritage and culture.  Amazing creativity abounds in the themes, including designs that are often whimsical or even comical. Common themes also include native plants and animals, pinup girls and shapely women in bathing suits, the iconic Florida cowboy, Native American scenes, and more.

By the mid-1950's, the industry started to pack and ship citrus in cardboard boxes. Since cardboard could be printed on directly, labels were no longer needed. Production eventually ceased, and the labels became a vibrant piece of Florida's past.

As Local Color Collection grows, we'll be adding more labels on a regular basis. Sign up here so we can let you know when we launch new products and designs.