Internet boosts banana sticker collections into the thousands

Banana sticker collecting?

Who would ever do that? Just a retired college professor, a dentist, the wife of an oil executive, a minister, a world-traveling bird watcher and many others. So banana-sticker collecting isn’t limited to students who put some funny Chiquita Faces on their notebooks or clown around by sticking them to their foreheads.

Those who do collect banana stickers are avid collectors and will do whatever they can to add that new sticker to their collection. Some buffs, especially those in Europe, collect stickers from all fruits and vegetables.

Until the Internet, most enthusiasts had very small collections, and, when traveling scoured the supermarkets and open-air markets for stickers. A collection of a few hundred stickers was considered a nice one. But, the Internet changed all that; now it’s common for a collector’s stickers to number in the thousands – and a few of those have even approached five figures. (I don’t know how they keep up with so many stickers.) Most collectors rely upon friends and relatives traveling to far-off places to help them with their collections. Many  also trade and correspond with collectors from around the world, including Europe, Japan, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Australia.

Perhaps the priciest banana sticker ever was “The Del Monte Note,” which brought $25,300 at Heritage Auctions’ January 2006 Signature Auctions. The U.S. $20 bill is so-named for the Del Monte banana sticker that made its way into the finished bill. U.S. paper money is printed in three phases: the back of the bill, the face of the bill and the Treasury Seal and serial numbers. While most obstructions fall off shortly after printing and leave a blank area of paper missing on the design, The Del Monte Note’s banana sticker became part of the finished bill, complete with a portion of the bill’s serial number and Treasury seal imprinted on its surface, according to Heritage Auction Galleries.

Occasionally, an old banana sticker may show up in a box of fruit labels. Such was the case of Pepe Bananas. The Pepe sticker is thought to have been used in the 1940s, and a collector paid more than $300 for it at an eBay auction. That’s the exception, of course, as most banana stickers can be purchased for $1 or less.

Just trading, organizing and sorting banana stickers is a full-time task no matter the size of the collection. Some banana sticker collectors like to remove the glue and clean their stickers by soaking them in solvent and detergents, drying them and then glueing them onto a special acid free paper. A very time consuming task, to say the least. Most don’t go to that trouble but use the same Vario [stamp stock] type pages to sort and display their collections.

The Internet has become the banana sticker’s trading highway. Without it, collections would primarily consist only of local found banana stickers and those found when traveling on vacation or business. Many collectors display their collections on Web pages — a quick Google search for “banana sticker collection” turned up dozens of results. The best way collectors acquire new stickers from other collections is by placing their duplicate banana stickers online for trading.

Still others will assemble their duplicates, scan them and send them to every banana sticker collector on their e-mail address page.

Want to start a collection, learn more, sell some stickers or trade banana stickers? Connect with me at banasticker@aim.com. Let me hear from you. ?

Randy Chambers
1456 Robbs School Road
Gaffney, SC 29341



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