On the right of the above photo you can see the framed packaging labels in the printing department of the Museum of Industry.

Photo: Martin Corlazzoli

At the AEPM congress, the annual meeting of the Association of European Printing Museums, collection and research officer Pieter Neirinckx meets a group of Vikings from Stavanger in Norway. This is where the IDDIS is located, which houses The Norwegian Printing Museum and The Norwegian Canning Museum together under one roof. In Stavanger's local Norwegian dialect, 'iddis' refers to labels, especially those found on tin cans. Iddis' is short for 'iddikett' or 'etikett', which in Dutch is 'etiket'.

That the two museums are joining forces is not surprising. They share a common industrial past. When the canning industry boomed, from 1916 to 1958, it formed a perfect breeding ground for the city's graphic industry: after all, colourful labels and packaging were needed for the many cans. 

For Pieter, the chance encounter with the Norwegians is a very special one. Not only is it nice to get to know another museum that collects both printing heritage and packaging, but the Museum of Industry itself also has some twenty canning labels from Stavanger in its collection. The Norwegian colleagues also seemed happy to find Stavanger labels in a foreign collection.

Dating the canning labels is a job for specialists, as an expiry date is unfortunately not always mentioned on the labels over time. Erik Hennum-Bergsagel shares a series of tips to make dating easier. Weight is only mentioned on labels from 1917 onwards. If 'brisling' or 'sild' is mentioned on the label, the label is from after 1916, as from then on the Norwegians are no longer allowed to label their products 'sardines' anywhere in Europe. Specific company details can also help. Thus, if a printing company is mentioned on the labels, such as Stavanger Etiketfabrik, and you know that a fire shut down the company's activities in 1920, this is another indication for dating. Thus, the majority of Norwegian labels in the collection of the Museum of Industry can be dated around the First World War.

Going up north this summer? Then you now know that there is more to Stavanger than climbing Preikestolen :)!

sign up for our newsletter