Chances are, when you pick up any product in a shop today, it will have a label stuck on it. That label will then go on to tell you a bit about what you are holding in your hand, what its name is, and sometimes how much it is. Shopping without all of this information would be very time consuming indeed. The self-adhesive label is a must have accessory for any product, but how did it originate? Who invented it, and what effect did this have on a rapidly growing industry?
The origins of the label
To find out more about the history of the self-adhesive label, we have to go back to pre-WW2 America. R. Stanton Avery, or Stan Avery as he was known, was itching to make a dream of his a reality. That dream? To produce labels that were self-adhesive, cutting down on time and costs. So in 1935, he invented a machine to make self-adhesive labels. It wasn’t plain sailing though.
It was an expensive venture, and he needed some investors. Enter Dorothy Durfee, a schoolteacher (and Stan’s future wife!). She saw the potential in Stan’s idea, and invested $100, not a small amount in those days. Stan then went on to put his machine together,using parts such as a motor from a washing machine, smaller parts from a sewing machine and even a sabre saw.
Revolutionising an industry
It sounds like it should never have worked, but it did! R. Stanton Avery and his invention went on to revolutionise the label industry, allowing labels to be mass produced and used in a way that had never been seen before. His labels had a paper surface which was then coated with adhesive. A liner with a special silicone coating was then applied, and then voilà! This technique became known in the industry as pressure sensitive.
And today? Well, pressure sensitive labels are an integral part of the way we shop and live, with their use no doubt going far beyond what Stan Avery could have ever imagined.
The effect is still felt today
Other advances in technology such as the invention of the laser printer and the personal computing boom made label design a much more accessible and cheaper business, but it was one man in 1930s America who had a vision that changed an industry. Before he came along, labels were being attached with special guns, a labour intensive process.
So whether you print labels at home for personal use or if you are a manufacturer producing them on a large scale, the ease of which you are able to do this is down to a single man’s creation.
So know you know
R. Stanton Avery’s family are still in the label business, with Avery Dennison being one of the market leaders. There are many other companies producing high quality self-adhesive labels too, thanks to his invention. It’s not often that someone comes along and completely changes an industry, but he did. So next time you pick up a product and see the label stuck to it, you’ll know a little bit more about the history behind it.
Tammy Wiltshire is the Marketing Manager for the UK’s Leading label manufacturers- Labelnet. Tammy has a wealth of knowledge in the label industry and likes to share the history behind how labels have helped us throughout the years.