In the late 1960's through the early 1970's, Mr. John Medley, author of "Images of the Sweet Potato," was employed as a Retail Produce Clerk and as a Produce Department Manager at several Phoenix area supermarkets. Around 1970 he received his first apple crate label as part of a "point of sale" advertising promotion sponsored by a Phoenix area produce wholesaler in conjunction with the Washington State Apple Commission.

By 1976 he began to seriously seek out obsolete crate labels by contacting grower and packer operations by mail. Much to his surprise he discovered that apple, citrus and yam crate labels had become highly sought after collectables. At present there are over 3600 different labels in the collection; over 400 of which are yam and sweet potato crate labels.

In the early 1960's Mr. Medley's mother was employed as a shipping clerk at a citrus packing plant in Arizona. In the 1960's and 1970's his father was employed with an Arizona State agency which at times provided field laborers for Arizona growers, packers and labor contractors.

In Mr. Medley's early 20's and while working as a supermarket employee, he noticed that the industry had almost completely phased out the large wooden produce boxes. Then in the 1960's and 1970's, Mr. Medley's wife attended Arizona State University for a future career as an art instructor. When he received his first crate labels from the produce wholesaler, he kept them thinking his wife would find them beneficial in her art education studies. Little did he realize that the first labels he collected would form the basis of a life long interest in collecting and preserving vintage apple, citrus and sweet potato box labels.

Mr. Medley said that "considering the background of my wife, my parents and myself, it almost seems natural to me that I would have an extensive collection of vintage sweet potato crate labels." Mr. Medley as been collecting crate labels from families and retired farmers for decades -- and he's still collecting. Please (520) 896-2173 or send e-mail to if you have crate labels from the 1920's or 1930's. No commercial dealers please. Thank you. Back to Images of the Sweet Potato