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The History of the Fabled Labels® Archive

On the strength of the creative genius of one man — Frederick Susus von Ehren — this privately owned collection of over 700 different labels for locally produced items from New Orleans’ Golden Age goes unchallenged as the best of its kind. Henri Schindler writes in Mardi Gras Treasures: Float Designs of the Golden Age (p. 112), “... in 1885, [von Ehren] began work as a commercial artist and lithographer for the printing firm of G. Koeckert & Co. Von Ehren ... was principally employed to design labels, and in the course of his seventy-year career with one firm, G. Koeckert became Koeckert and Walle, then Walle & Co.” Von Ehren retired reluctantly in 1952 at 91. Von Ehren’s carnival papers were avidly collected and preserved, but little attention had been paid to his “delicately detailed product labels” (Times-Picayune Dixie Magazine, Bartlett, December 4, 1977, p. 42) until Fabled Labels® Curator, Sharon Dinkins, set about to raise public awareness of the value of his designs for the lowly trade label.

When Dinkins began this project in 1975, the von Ehren name was virtually unknown. Today there is a Frederick Susus von Ehren Collection in the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Current books and periodicals routinely mention von Ehren’s substantial contribution to New Orleans’ visual heritage. For instance, design maven, Phillip Collier, dedicated his recent book, Making New Orleans, to the artist and made copious use of von Ehren labels throughout the impressive volume.

Collier and writers like him rely heavily on The Louisiana State Museum and The Historic New Orleans Collection for their visual source material. Both institutions acquired the bulk of their label collections from Dinkins in the 70s. Dinkins also supplied original labels to many private collections, including those of McIlhenny Company, French Market Coffee Co., Wm. B. Reily & Co., The Green Coffee Association, and J. Aron & Co.