Skip to content

Oranges & Lemons Wrappers

January 10, 2024
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

7 Responses leave one →
  1. January 10, 2024

    I love this collection and well done to Keren for keeping hold of it. A few years ago, I completed a huge trek across Europe, mostly by rail. I visited Sicily, which you can reach by rail from the Italian mainland believe it or not, and I needed to traverse it by coach to the most southerly point to catch a boat to Malta. I travelled through some of the rural citrus growing areas.
    I think city dwellers sometimes do not think about where their fruit comes from but on this warm spring day, with Etna puffing away in the receding distance, I travelled through a paradise of trees, tall waving grass and clouds of butterflies. The coach wove its way slowly because the road surface was patchy but this gave me a good opportunity to look around. If this is where Sicilian lemons came from, then I would always seek them out to support the growers in this beautiful place. Maybe they are grown in a more industrial scale elsewhere but the image of butterflies and birds, has persisted.
    A marvellous collection and memories. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kate Amis permalink
    January 10, 2024

    What a wonderful collection- I am about to make my annual marmalade today and get very excited if I get even one crinkly wrapper on a Seville from the greengrocers.

  3. DAVID LAWSON permalink
    January 10, 2024

    The power of ephemera! Lovely to see this collection of items that have interest even though they had a short lifespan before the waste bin!
    Andy Warhol recognised their beauty.

  4. Cherub permalink
    January 10, 2024

    I can also remember some fruits having wrappers when I was a child in the 60s. We had a project in our primary school class when I was about 8, the teacher asked us all to bring in either a fruit wrapper or label from a food can. It was to educate us about which parts of the world a lot of our foods came from. She pinned all the wrappers and on to the dado rail around the classroom wall, I can still remember it to this day and I’m 62 now. It was so colourful.

    I think this would be a good educational project for today’s children, too many don’t really know where the food they eat comes from. Preparation and food skills are sadly being lost to convenience foods and takeaways.

  5. Jennifer Grigg permalink
    January 10, 2024

    I love this collection! I would wear a t-shirt with any of these wonderful images emblazoned on it. Something about the concision and the colours is so appealing.

  6. Barbara Elsmore permalink
    January 10, 2024

    Lovely – little works of art and thanks too to Christine Swan for sharing her memories.

  7. Mark permalink
    January 10, 2024

    These are really nice.
    Hard to believe that Franco’s Spain was anything other than black and white.

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS