The modern self-adhesive label was invented in 1932 by an American Called R Stanton Avery. Stan Avery (as he was known) was born on 13th Jan 1907 in Oklahoma City and was so poor that he lived in a rented chicken coop.
Experimenting in a 100-square-foot loft near the Flower Mart, where he worked mornings, Avery cut slits at the ends of a cigar box, filled it with glue and pulled pieces of paper through the slits. The self-sticking label used for price tags and name tags was born.
He founded what is now the Avery Dennison Corporation in 1935 with an investment of $100 from his future wife Dorothy. He invented a machine to make self-adhesive labels using a motor from a washing machine, parts of a sewing machine and a saber saw.
His new enterprise prospered during World War II when glue for ordinary lick-and-stick labels became scarce. And when the government needed labels for “Mae West” flotation vests that wouldn’t peel off in seawater, Avery turned them out by the millions.
Over the years, Avery also introduced self-adhesive label dispensers and in-line label-making and printing machines. Altogether, he amassed 18 patents.
The worldwide sales of self-adhesive labels now runs into many billions of dollars. Virtually all goods now manufactured or grown organically will either have a label directly adhered to it or come in a box with labels stuck on.
Stan invented what has become a truly global product that is now used in every country in the world and Avery now employs 30,000 people in over 5- countries worldwide.
The year before he passed away (on 12th Dec 1997) Avery sales alone were £3.2 billion dollars and are currently upwards of $6 billion.