Off To Market

Banana Stencil, 1940s

Bananas are an important agricultural industry in the Coffs Harbour area and have become an enduring icon for the region and part of its cultural identity. The area’s annual agricultural shows featured banana stenciling and crate packing displays and competitions. Many businesses and the tourism sector promoted themselves through bananas.

Banana stencils were a critical working component for selling bananas from the 1920s to the 1980s in Australia. The stencils created a permanent and clearly defined mark that would remain intact and identifiable during transport from farm to market as produce journeyed across the country.

Farmers could not transport produce to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, or Sydney wholesale markets without packing crates stenciled. They functioned as a fast, efficient, uniform way to apply an address label to crates. The stencil identified the grower and wholesaler, and often included the grade of bananas and chemical treatments where applicable.

This stencil was used by banana grower J.P. (Jack) Ladd [1921-2000] of Boambee near Coffs Harbour who farmed bananas commercially from the 1940s to the late 1970s. An item of their time, banana stencils are no longer used or needed. Those that survive, like this one, are a reminder of the banana growers of the past, the wholesalers they traded with, and the places that Coffs Harbour’s bananas were sent to.


Where were the bananas grown that used this stencil on their boxes?

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