Collectible Labels & Stickers

by Maverick Label | March 16, 2020

Labels and stickers can be fun, easy collectibles. Their value is not always high to others, but the different colors, shapes, and sizes make them attractive. Many collectors feel a personal or emotional connection, as well.

Label and sticker collectors are generally not in it for the profit, but rather for fun, nostalgia, or even the social connection with others. The challenge of finding that rare piece, or of the reward of rounding out your collection add to the urge. 

Here's some of the labels and stickers we've heard that people collect.

Banana Stickers

Collectible stickers from banana bunches
One of many Chiquita banana stickers

This was a new one for me. Lots of people collect stickers - we even covered some of the 80’s sticker collectibles in the past (scratch & sniff; the good old days). But I personally never noticed anything other than regular Dole or Chiquita stickers on my bananas.

Apparently, though, there are thousands of different banana stickers from around the world. One of the top world collectors of these stickers was highlighted on CNN in February.

Becky Martz has over 21,000 banana stickers (21,395, according to her site). That's a lot of bananas. But some of these collectible labels are really lovely and others are incredibly cute. (There's a whole bunch of Minion ones!)

Fruit Crate Labels

fruit crate labels make great collectibles
Ah, exotic palm trees!

Collecting fruit crate labels is not that unusual. These labels were used as advertising and branding, so they’re highly decorative. Advances in lithographic printing led to increased color use and decreased costs due to a more rapid printing process.

In the 1880’s, California produce distributors started putting labels on wooden fruit crates (mostly citrus) before shipping. Florida orange growers soon picked up on the trend, as well as others. This method of branding the crates continued till the mid-1950s, when cardboard boxes began to replace the wooden crates. It’s estimated that California growers alone used more than 10,000 different label designs.

Much of the citrus at the time was sent to the East Coast or Midwest in winter, so the crate labels frequently featured sunshine, palm trees, the seaside, or birds and animals specific to the fruits’ locale. Cowboys, Indians, and pin-up models followed. These images still appeal today. Affordable reproductions of many of these fruit crate labels are widely available.

Wine/Beer Labels

Photo by Jeric Santiago, Flickr

Usually, people collect wine or beer labels simply to record and track their own adventures in sampling. Many places sell “wine journals” - loose-leaf books with pages where you can place a wine or beer label and write notes about it - where you were, what it tasted like, what you were celebrating. In addition, you can use wine labels (as well as corks) in decor pieces. 

Removing the labels from these bottles without damaging them can be tricky. What method you use can depend on what type of adhesive is on the label. The most common methods are the “soak” (good for older labels, with a water-soluble adhesive) or the “heat” (good for newer labels with pressure-sensitive adhesive). We usually try to make your labels stick tight. 

The beer enthusiasts at the Thirsty Bastards tried a bunch of methods and have some great advice, however. They also have ideas about what you can do with your labels once they’re off the bottles. It’s a really fun site to explore - the 2019 “Best Beer Label” contest is done, but there are some beautiful entries. They have nice write-ups on the top 10; in fact, their whole “Beer Label Art” section is entertaining.

Plenty of breweries also give out branded labels or sell them at minimal cost to fans and collectors.

Do you have any collectible labels or stickers?