History of the "Sticker"

by Maverick Label | October 10, 2010

Where exactly did stickers come from and why were they invented? Let's look at rumored inventors of the sticker.  While there is no definitive source acknowledged as inventing the sticker, there are several suggested first uses of stickers throughout history...

Stickers in History

  • It has been suggested that the Ancient Egyptians first created "stickers" to advertise their daily market rates.  Archeologists have found items, at Egyptian excavation sites, that appear to be pricing and/or product descriptions plastered to walls of ancient cities.  These artifacts are believed to have been some sort of early paper, which was written on and then somehow glued/plastered to the walls of various market places throughout Egypt.
  • It has also been suggested that Sir Rowland Hill, in 1839, invented the modern sticker when he created and introduced an adhesive paper that became the first Postage Stamps.
  • Then there are those who believe that the sticker was invented in the 1880's by European advertising gurus, who came up with the idea to help consumers identify (and ultimately purchase) products by use of colorful paper "labels."  These colorful paper labels were stuck to various types of fruit and fruit packaging with a simple gum paste.  Apparently, there was massive competition in European orchards at this time in history.  These inventive stickers were used primarily on the sides of the fruit crates to help make their containers "stand out" from their competitors.
  • And even others argue that R. Stanton Avery, the founder of popular "Avery Labels," is the actual inventor of the sticker, when he invented the first self-adhesive label in 1935.

Early Uses of Adhesives

Many early stickers were the pre-apply type, meaning you had to somehow "wet" (lick, apply water, etc.) the back / adhesive side of the sticker before applying.  While there are still pre-apply stickers in use today, most modern stickers do not require this task to use the sticker.  So, I guess the inventor of the sticker could be determined by your definition of a sticker itself.

Whichever you believe, stickers have evolved tremendously over the years and are now used in most all aspects of modern day life.  There are literally hundreds of different types of stickers, ranging greatly in differences by material (paper, vinyl, plastics, etc.), application (indoor, outdoor, temperature, etc.), inks (UV, process color / spot colors, etc.), adhesives (permanent, removable, ultra-removable, etc.) and even coatings (polymer, clear, varnish, etc.)

Designing Different Types of Stickers

Maverick Label offers custom label printing solutions for any need.  Whether it be simple blank labels / stickers or custom items like name plates, asset tags, control panels or more custom items like process color custom product labels - Maverick Label is your complete label resource.