February 08, 2009
While I was at art college in Liverpool in the Eighties, I was lucky enough to be taught by a great lecturer, John Sandford. He was full of energy and passionate about making the college a vibrant and dynamic place to be. Amongst his many passions were Magic, Masks, Fruit wrappers & Derby County Football Club.
It was John who suggested putting down the pencil to persue a more photographic route as an illustrator, and He who started my collection of fruit wrappers, after a trip to Spain where he visited the factory that printed the wrappers. We spent a couple of years swapping wrappers but sadly John died shortly after we graduated.
A little bit like the culture of collecting from skips, the joy of fruit wrappers, was that most green grocers would give you the wrappers for free. I dont think printing on the lightweight tissue paper was the easiest! Sometimes, as a result, there would be the added bonus of the image being misregistered.
Protective wrappers were introduced in the 19th Century when paper costs had come down in price and to safeguard fruit in transit. Traditionally they had wrapped Oranges & Lemons, but I have seen one or two pear wrappers from China.
The V&A Museum in London hosted an exhibition of Wrappers in 1985, which was accompanied by a rather beautiful catalogue designed by The Partners. Twenty one wrappers were faithfully reproduced in full colour, on authentic lightweight tissue.
The four featured here are some of my favourite. The two older images were from one of the Ephemera Societys' monthly bazaars. If youre ever in London its well worth getting along to. Even if prices have rocketed in the last few years!