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Keren McConnell’s Orange Wrappers

January 10, 2023
by the gentle author

This is the season for oranges and lemons, so I was more than delighted when Keren McConnell kindly sent me her glorious fruit wrapper collection from the seventies to share with you. If any other readers have ephemera collections, please get in touch.

“I started collecting fruit papers when I was six years old, possibly inspired by a holiday in Spain in 1971. Most of the papers stuck in my small scrapbook were picked up while shopping for groceries with my mother at the local greengrocers in Blackheath. I think they reminded me of that holiday with their bright and graphic imagery.

I was drawn to the designs and texture and feel of the crinkly tissue paper. I also collected carrier bags and paper bags for their graphics, but this collection did not survive all our house moves.

Who knows? This book of fruit papers may have even informed my career. I became a print and graphics designer for fashion brands and retailers, sometimes using this scrapbook as reference material to inspire a T-shirt design.

As a child, particular favourites were the designs depicting animals, beautiful ladies and the smiling face on the Sicilian lemon is particularly appealing. I have no idea why the Tower of London was on a fruit paper from Spain. Perhaps the designer thought London was an exotic place, just as I had found Spain so exotic? Some of the designs seem to have been inspired by sport, such as horse racing and Formula One.

Are children today inclined to make collections like this? Mine was born out of boredom, particularly on wet Sundays when the days felt so long.”

Keren McConnell

You may also like to take a look at

John Gillman’s Bus Ticket Collection

Laurie Elks’ Bottle Label Collection

12 Responses leave one →
  1. January 10, 2023

    What an astonishing blog you have. Wonderful emails with extraordinary content make their way to my computer and brighten my mornings – thankyou so much!

  2. Andy permalink
    January 10, 2023

    Truly delightful on a rainy day.

  3. January 10, 2023

    I vividly remember such wrappers at the greengrocer, but I just looked up difenyl, the fungicide with which they were treated, and am slightly alarmed …

  4. Roger Tiller permalink
    January 10, 2023

    I love your orange wrappers I used to live over a green grocers shop from 1941 1965 and I’ve got some beautiful fruit wrappers date boxes and labels that were put on little wooden crates. keep collcting they also look nice if there framed. Roger

  5. Annie S permalink
    January 10, 2023

    A lovely collection, one of my cousins used to collect them too but I doubt that she still has them!

  6. Cherub permalink
    January 10, 2023

    These remind me of a childhood primary school project in the 60s. We had to collect wrappers like these, also labels from canned fruits and vegetables to teach us where all the fruits and vegetables we ate came from.

    Back in 2006 I was in hospital and my brother visited me with some sweets and 2 oranges. I said we got fruit with the hospital menus. My brother said ”these are special ones, they have a sticker that says Maroc on them” which made me laugh!

  7. January 10, 2023

    Wonderful graphic design. Today’s fruit sometimes has funny, informative stickers: “Organic heroes are allowed to have quirks.”

    Love & Peace

  8. January 10, 2023

    Fruit graphics of all kinds have been an inspiration to me for years! When I first got interested in needlepoint, I designed four pillow tops inspired by classic fruit crate labels. Still have them. The most fun was doing the research (oh, what a surprise!?). The strong use of primary colors, eye-catching typography, and visual archetypes (sun-drenched fields, costumed figures, etc) were fun to play with on the drawing board. Stitching? — a more tedious situation, but it was worth it to have these boffo pillows that have followed us around through various moves.

    This collection of wrappers is extra-charming, printed on tissue — and yet vibrant and sturdy.
    (Don’t you love the tiny red musical notes included on one of the wrappers? Pure whimsy.)

    Ephemera collections! — Please, keep them coming.

  9. Christine Swan permalink
    January 10, 2023

    When we left London, we moved to Dartford. There used to be a very traditional greengrocer called Rose’s which had the shop front open to the elements during the day but all of the fruit neatly stacked for display illuminated by lightbulbs strung along the top. To have an orange or tangerine with the paper on was a special treat. I can still picture little me gazing up at the colours bright in the shining lights. I always admire shops and market stalls that still make an effort to display fruit and vegetables. A few years ago, I travelled to Sicily and was pleased to see orange and lemon trees growing in fields, with wildflowers growing beneath the them and butterflies flitting about between them. A far cry from industrial production with too many chemicals.

  10. Marcia Howard permalink
    January 10, 2023

    What a fabulous collection. I also used to save ‘orange wrappers’ but disposed of them when I felt it was rather a childish thing to do. Perhaps I should have hung on to them!!!

  11. Marcia Howard permalink
    January 10, 2023

    I do however still have an exercise book full of triangle shape cheese labels, which I love. Each set of 6 tells its own story.

  12. BarVar permalink
    January 11, 2023

    My family and I visited Madrid this past spring and attended an exhibition of fruit stickers in CentroCentro, the former post office building. Here’s an article in FastCompany magazine about the exhibition:

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