Exhibition of Historical Canning Label Reproductions
Courtesy of Smyth Companies
at the MOarts Gallery
Monday, October 1 through Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Dora Gaither, an employee of Smyth Companies, rescued part of Bedford Town and County history when she asked a local museum to take boxes of original canning labels for their collection. Reproductions of these historical canning labels will be shown at the MOarts Gallery in the Moneta/ Smith Mountain Lake Library in October. In 2014 Gaither asked the Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum to provide a home for historical canning labels that were designed and printed at Piedmont Label in Bedford, Virginia. Until about 1950 the labels were used to wrap cans of preserved food from farms and fisheries across the United States. The brightly colored, unusually beautiful labels were used by Bedford County farmers for tomatoes and other produce canned on the farm or in community canneries scattered throughout the region. Piedmont Label was acquired by Smyth Companies in 1998, and Gaither, an artist who designed labels herself, transitioned to a job in the Smyth Human Resources department. Gaither recognized the unique historical and artistic importance of these old labels. They were hand lettered and painted with bucolic landscapes, whimsical scenes of farm life and depictions of perfectly ripe fruits and vegetables, then reproduced using stone lithography. She offered the labels to the Institute so that they would be preserved as a part of regional history. Today, Smyth Companies of Bedford displays framed reproductions of some of the historical canning labels in the factory.
Smyth Companies has flourished by printing thin-film injection labels in the same building that originally housed Piedmont Label in 1919. New printing equipment was installed this year and employees were trained to use the new technology. Smyth received grants from the state of Virginia and from Bedford County to help with the cost of this upgrade and training. Governor Ralph Northam praised the business in a recent press release printed in the Bedford Bulletin on July 18, 2018 saying, “Smyth Companies has been a valuable corporate citizen in the Town of Bedford in Bedford County for nearly a century, and we are honored that they continue to reinvest in their Virginia operation.”
The historical canning label reproductions will be on display at the Moneta/SML Library this month during library hours.
The library is located at 13641 Moneta RD, Moneta, Virginia 24121.
For directions call the library at: (540) 425-7004.