Appraisal Video: (3:57)
APPRAISER: You brought me an album of orange crate labels. You're a collector?
GUEST: I am.
APPRAISER: When did you start collecting them?
GUEST: Roughly 12 years ago.
APPRAISER: Okay, they're lithographs, and they were put on the ends of the crates. And they were used to sell the oranges to the wholesalers. What do you usually pay for these?
GUEST: Anywhere from a dollar to five dollars.
APPRAISER: Well, when they first came onto the market, they were discovered in the late '60s. Several huge batches were discovered in warehouses, and then big bundles of them were discovered in groves, so that, on many of the labels like these, there are quantities of them out there. We were selling them all or a dollar back then-- 1969, '70, '71. Then slowly, we began to realize that not all the quantities were the same. So some labels were scarcer than others, so prices started to go up. And certain labels were trading for $50, $100, which was astounding to us. A label like this-- the Yokohl-- I can remember I've sold that one for as much as $35.
APPRAISER: Then Internet auctions came along. And as with many collectibles, it crashed the market. There were just tons of labels out there, even more than we realized, and it drove the prices down, except for unique labels. Now, could you explain what you have here?
GUEST: This is a salesman sample--
GUEST: --dated 1927. It's Distinctive Labels of the Union Lithograph Company.
APPRAISER: There's 20 labels in this sample.
GUEST: Twenty labels in that book.
APPRAISER: And what did you pay for them?
GUEST: Four dollars apiece. I found them in an antique shop in Rosenberg, Texas.
APPRAISER: Okay. First of all, salesman samples in labels are beyond rare. They're just nonexistent. You find some salesman samples in cigar labels. This was a book that the salesmen would bring around to the groves and show to the growers, and say, "Do you want to have this brand as your label?" What you have here is a group of labels that are, as far as I can tell, unique. For example, this Zebra label here-- you're looking at a label that would sell for $1,500. Vigilant-- $2,000. Red Mule-- a thousand dollars.
APPRAISER: Orange King-- a thousand dollars. La Mesa-- $500. Now, Fearless has appeared, but this is a very early printing. The Fearless that's on the market and sells for over $500 is a later lithograph. So it's a restrike of the original. This is a $1,500 label. Mardi Gras-- at least $2,000.
GUEST: Oh, my gosh.
APPRAISER: Half Dome-- you're looking at a thousand dollars right there. Pegasus-- $2,000. Crimson Crane-- $1,500. Cleopatra-- at least a thousand, $1,500. Now, the Fearless before was an orange label, and this is a lemon label. The orange is much more valuable than the lemon. And then this final one here-- Chinese Girl has got to be a $1,500 label.
GUEST: Oh, my gosh.
APPRAISER: You've got $25,000 to $30,000 worth of labels in this set, plus the sample cover. It's one of the rare cases where, if you sold it as a unit, you'd most likely do better than if you sold them individually, because it is a whole salesman sample book. And those have just never been found with orange crate labels.
GUEST: Wow. I'm blown away by the price.
APPRAISER: Oh, yeah, you have an unbelievable treasure. It's... it's... I've never even seen before.
GUEST: I can't believe it. I had no idea. I knew that they were good; I didn't know how good. My wife told me, "No matter what they cost, you're not selling those."
APPRAISER: Oh, really? Good for her.