Fruit Case Labels

These colourful labels were a very important presentation part of marketing and promoting our fruit overseas. Their history is now a thing of the past and would be completely lost if it were not for a few serious collectors who have cherished and saved, over the years, some rare examples. These have been salvaged from dust covered surplus stock stored in the back of the growers packing sheds.


Early means of identifying fruit for market was by stenciling the ends of the wooden fruit cases. Metal stencils were punched out for various things such as; growers name, type of fruit, size and grades. They were carefully placed in position on the end of the box and brushed with black paint to leave the identifying marks on the box. This method was used for many years but as times change, so did the presentation and marketing, to keep up with world trends.

Concern with marketing fruit overseas was being raised on a number of fronts. Particularly in regards to presentation at the market place. Details on the case was so important as was emphasised by the British Trade Publicity Officer Mr. Hyland during his short visit to Bridgetown in early 1930’s. He said the outstanding feature of all labels used for export fruit should be the country of origin and not the name of the shipping agent as it was at the moment. The words “Western Australia” should be the outstanding feature of all labels used on cases of fruit sent overseas from this State.

As the Australian trade developed it was becoming an increasing habit of buyers to buy by grower’s name. That is, if a customer purchased apples bearing a certain grower’s name, and which has proved highly satisfactory to him in all respects, there is every likelihood that next year he will especially look out for fruit from the same source. This method of preference occurs time after time, and therefore there was the necessity for growers to put their name on every case that is shipped. The best way to keep their apples in the limelight was to present them displaying an attractive and distinguishing label.

In July 1928 the Westralian Farmers Stores Ltd., in Bridgetown presented to fruit growers an entirely new label for their fruit cases in connection with the overseas marketing of their apples. Its very attractive design should assist materially in the pushing of the apple trade on overseas markets. It is made to cover one end of a dump case, and is coloured, with a black swan in the centre, and two apples nearby. There is a space for the size or grade of the fruit, growers name, as well as a place for the insertion of the variety.
It was pointed out that the label can be had at a very small cost per thousand, and that the grower may have his name printed on free of additional cost. Some of the reasons given for the designing and presenting the labels are;

1. Australia is the only country of any importance in the fruit “world” which has not discarded stenciling as a means of giving the necessary particulars on cases. Other countries have taken up labels to give necessary details in a clearer and more concise form, and we are obliged to meet this phase of foreign competition.

2. That labels make a more attractive article, which is a great deal from the seller’s point of view inasmuch as a good-looking, and well got up article commands better prices than a poorly dressed one.

3. That in all probability the cases containing fruit bought by us will be required to have these labels on, and further that the time saved between stenciling and labeling will go a long way to make up for the cost. It takes a good man to stencil neatly, but a boy can paste the labels on.

4. That the Eastern States fruitgrowers have recently adopted labels and that we cannot afford to be left behind in this phase of business. Anybody interested in fruit growing and marketing will readily appreciate the value of such labels.

In the years following many very colourful labels were produced mainly by the wholesalers in large quantities which brought the cost down to a few cents. The growers could have his own names and other details added to personalise their label. Some larger orchards, such as Illawarra, Rocky Hill, E.G. Hall and others, produced their own range.

Wholesalers that produced some of these colourful labels for Western Australian produced apples were;
Australian Pacific Traders Pty., Ltd., Perth
B. Mercer Ltd., Metro Markets, Perth
Burridge & Warren Pty., Ltd.
Chas. E. Bolt Pty., Ltd., Albany
C. J. Ellershan & Co. Pty., Ltd.
Clements & Marshall Pty., Ltd., Tasmania
C. M. Paul & Son, Perth
Craig, Mostyn and Growers Packing Company Pty., Ltd.
Doyle, Momber & C0., Perth
E. Benson & Co. Perth
Friut & Produce Exchange, Perth
H. J. & F. Simper Pty., Ltd., Fremantle
N. M. Symington & Company Pty., Ltd.
Mackenzie & Co.
Mount Barker Co-operative Limited., Mount Barker
Mount Barker Co-operative Society Ltd., Mount Barker
Mount Barker Fruitgrowers’ Cool Storage Co-operative Soc., Ltd., Mount Barker
Paterson & Co. Limited. Perth & Fremantle
R. N. Mooney Pty., Ltd., Perth
R. Walker & Co., Fremantle
Scanlan & Simper Pty., Ltd., Fremantle
S. T. Etherington Traders Pty., Ltd., Perth
Tasmanpack Pty., Ltd.
The Australian Apple & Pear Board
The Westralian Farmers Ltd., Perth
Westralian Farmers Co-operative Ltd., Perth
Tropical Traders & Patterson Ltd., Perth
Westralian Farmers Stores Ltd., Bridgetown

Growers that produced some of these colourful labels for Western Australian produced apples were;
Ernest George Hall, Bridgetown
H. L. Ayers & Sons, Balingup
Illawarra Orchard Ltd., Karragullen
Rocks Hill Estate, Carbarup, Mount Barker
Victor Price Webb, Argyle
W.F., E.M., B.F. & N.R. Dilley, Donnybrook

It is reported that Jarrah was used for cases for the local markets but not for the export markets, as it shunk. Karri was used for the cases for the export market. But as the supply of timber for the wooden boxes dwindled there was a move to another method of packaging – cardboard boxes and trays. This method exists right through to today. Many attractive and colourful printing designs appear on these boxes.

The era of Fruit Case labels has ended and if it was not for people like the three listed below, they would be lost forever. These four local enthusiasts have carefully gathered together rare collections of these labels and have given us permission to publish images of them on this website.

Bruno Del Simone has collected 32 different Western Australia Case Labels over the past 20 years. Bruno grew up on “Springhill Orchard” in Urch Road, Roleystone and has spent his whole life involved in the fruit growing industry. He joined Mercer Mooney at the age of 17 and was quickly promoted to an in-charge position a year later. His relationship with Mercers has been very good and fourty-two years later his is still with the company, managing their Pickering Brook Depot. He is very well respect in the industry and was mentored by John Guimelli over the years. Their relationship was very close and although operating businesses that were in opposition to each other, the repore between these two was always friendly, mutual and helpful to each other.


Roger Marchetti is a collector of many things and over the years has accumulated one of the largest collections of Western Australian Case Labels including some very rare ones. Roger grew up on an orchard in Roleystone and today operates a business supplying machinery and equipment to the growers

Tom Price is a third generation orchardist operating “Illawarra Orchard” at Karragullen. Over the years his family have accumulated a massive collection of Case Labels from many countries. They form a huge wall display on his property. Illawarra Orchard was one of the leaders in grading, packing and presentation of apples for export, winning medals for their produce in overseas markets. Their brand name was always highly visable on their fruit cases via means of their own very colourful case labels. Their produce became recognised and was always eagerly sort after because of the respect the markets had for their brand


Tony Vincenti of “Weemala Orchard”, Carmel has been involved in the fruit growing industry all his life and is agent for manufacturers of machinery and equipment for orchardists and growers. Tony has a nice select collection of case labels that he has managed to salvage over the years, representing a lot of local orchardists and agents that have serviced the industry over the years

References: Article: Pickering Brook Heritage Group

Images: 1, 2, 3, 13, 14, 15, 16 Gordon Freegard
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Tom Price
17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52 Scanned by John Linton