A Brief History of Labels (Infographic)

A Brief History of Labels (Infographic)

Starting in the 16th century, labels were primarily, and simplistically, used for identifying items such as various apothecary medicines and transported goods, such as cloth. A lot has changed since then. So, here’s a brief history of how labels have developed over the course of 400 years.


a brief history of labels infographic

Transcript Of The History Infographic

The 1600s

Considering only a small portion of the population was able to read and write,  labels did not make any prominent developments during this time.

The 1800s

Skip ahead to the Industrial Revolution, and to a time where literacy has grown considerably. This is also a time where literacy has grown in prominence as well as education. Canning and bottling are more prominent, so labeling these containers and providing brand names become crucial, especially so now that a great number of the population can understand the labels.

In the late 19th century, papermaking machines and lithography create the opportunity to produce long runs of the same quality labels, in sheeted form and in color

The 1880s

Gumming pre-printed paper popularizes with animal glue, sheet by sheet.


The first continuous gummed paper tape gets produced for parcel sealing.


A patent was purchased by Samuel Jones & Company, Ltd. for stabilizing, or non-curling, pre-gummed paper for labels

1930s & 1940s

Instantaneous heat seal labels develop and also automatic application, and decline of pre-gummed paper.

1950s & 1960s

Lick & stick stamps grow in popularity & increase of wet glue application to labels and development of brand identity labeling.

The 1980s

Developments lead to very long runs of blow molded containers. Labels start getting placed in the mold prior to the forming of the container, originally used only for blown plastic containers for hair care and under-the-sink products

Shrink sleeve technique develops.

The 1990s

A variety of developments are made such as stretch-sleeve labeling, wrap-around film labeling, cut-and-stack film labeling, roll-on-shrink-on labeling and spot patch labeling, used primarily for soft drinks.

The 2000s

VIP and digital printing rise to the forefront, as well as the development of smart labels and packaging.


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