It’s not often that you find your future in a box discarded behind the supermarket. But not much about Weimar historian, author and artist Pat Jacobsen’s career path has been typical.
Jacobsen stumbled upon some boxes of old fruit crate labels in 1978, just as the young musician was moving into his first place. He tossed them in his car, figuring the colorful advertising images would make a cheap decorating medium for the bare walls of his new bachelor pad.
Shortly after, a friend introduced Jacobsen to a San Francisco woman selling similar labels, some for as much as $100. Suspecting an opportunity for profit, Jacobsen struck out along the Pacific coast, talking to fruit growers, packers and printing companies. Little did he know that this would become his life for the next 25 years.
Fruit companies used paper labels from approximately 1885 to 1960, when pre-printed cardboard boxes became more economical. By the time Jacobsen came around, printing businesses and crate manufacturers were all too happy to offload thousands of obsolete labels that had been gathering dust in storage.