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Gary Monroe Citrus Label Collection

Identifier: MSS 0564

Scope and Content

This collections contains 83 packaging labels for citrus, lemons, and other products from approximately the 1930s to the 1950s. Also included is a reproduction of a label and an example of a tissue wrapper for citrus. The two main categories are Florida labels and California labels. California labels were larger than their Florida counterparts and sometimes influenced by Hollywood. They were often more complex and cinematic. Lithographers in California dominated label-making--producing labels for the Washington State apple industry, California wineries and citrus producers, as well as labels for orange and grapefruit growers in Texas and Florida; but St. Louis, Nashville, Baltimore, and other areas also had printers who specialized in making labels.


  • Creation: 1930s-1940s


The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Citrus labels were a form of commercial or advertising art that existed from the late 19th century until World War II. The citrus label industry emerged with the growth of railroads, which led to citrus fruits being shipped around the country, and growers needing a way to differentiate their products both to distributors and to consumers. This led to the advent of citrus labels, which not only identified products that would otherwise be nearly identical, but also served to draw attention to the products and create a recognizable brand. The labels were applied to the ends of the wooden crates which contained the citrus, and the crates would be auctioned off to retailers and wholesalers in the Northeast. To catch the eye of these buyers, these labels were often elaborately-drawn and featured dazzling imagery. Growers also used pre-made or "stock" labels, with a standard image, to which their own brand and name was added.

Citrus labels saw their heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. With World War II demanding more materials, the wooden crates were replaced with cheaper and more readily-available cardboard boxes and names and labels could be directly printed onto the cardboard. This reduced the need for paper labels. Despite the end of the war in 1945, cardboard remained the primary shipping medium for citrus fruits. This development, combined with the rise of orange juice concentrate and direct-to-consumer selling, also lessened the need for fancy labels, leading to the rapid decline of citrus labeling.

Today, these historic relics are still valued by collectors, who assign various values to them based on size, year, origin, and rarity.


Jerry Chicone Jr. Florida Citrus Label Collection.

Schmidt Oral History.

Yorba Linda History.

Citrus Label Society (California).

The Autry Museum.;id=PE208196;type=701

Florida's Natural -

Florida's Natural -

Florida Citrus Labels: An Illustrated History by Jerry Chicone, Jr. and Brenda Eubanks Burnette (1996)

Classic Crates from Florida by Marilyn C. Russell (1985)

"Florida's First Billboards": Florida Citrus Create Labels by Jerry Chicone, Jr. and Brenda Eubanks Burnette (2014)


.51 Linear Feet (1 Box)

Language of Materials



This collections contains packaging labels for citrus, lemons, and other products from approximately the 1930s to 1950s.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

By purchase from Gary Monroe.

A Guide to the Gary Monroe Citrus Label Collection
Finding aid created by Jason Zappulla
May 2020
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America