When was the Spanish printer Artes graficas del Rio in operation?
April 5, 2013 5:54 PM   Subscribe

I have an old Spanish olive oil label. The printer's name/location, as they appear in fine print at the bottom the label, are as follows: ARTES GRAFICAS - DEL RIO - LUARCA. I am trying to determine the age of this label. Herminio Azcárate Campo died in 1944, but I don't know when he inherited his father's business, which was established sometime after 1891. The label can be viewed here. If I knew when this printer was in operation, I could get a better idea of when this label was in use. Any useful information on ARTES GRAFICAS - DEL RIO or Herminio Azcárate Campo would be appreciated.
posted by kirsti to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sounds like a fun chase, here's my try... This shows that Del Rio started his printing business at least back in 1896. The same site lists a Luarca Rio printing shop currently active, so I guess his heirs might have kept the business running all this time. Which means we are stumped about the label's date, but you might try to contact the current owners of the shop and see what happens?

On the other hand, this old bank annuary shows both Azcárate Campo Senior and Herminio (and two other male relatives?) as a shareholder in 1930, so I suppose Herminio would have inherited him later than that date?
posted by Iosephus at 3:01 AM on April 6, 2013

Response by poster: Iosephus: Many thanks for this information, which is very useful. So, it seems that this label must date from sometime between 1930 and 1944. By the way, I visited the web page concerning the origins of the printing industry, but I did not see anything about Del Rio and 1896. However, I did some searching on the Web and came across a book printed in 1884 by Ramiro P. Del Rio (http://www.bibliotecavirtual.asturias.es/i18n/consulta/registro.cmd?id=122). I just took a closer look at one of my other old Spanish olive oil labels. It reads "Litho. Ramiro P. Del Rio, Luarca". Thanks again!
posted by kirsti at 6:09 AM on April 6, 2013

Best answer: That's right, I have no clue what was I reading and misquoting about. The printing industry page actually says "Ramiro Pérez del Río instaló la primera imprenta en Luarca y de sus planchas salió El Faro de Luarca (1859).", so Señor del Río had been printing stuff at Luarca way earlier than 1896.
posted by Iosephus at 8:05 AM on April 6, 2013

Best answer: Another dating element will surely be the use of the term "extra-virgen". My Spanish isn't up to scratch for a proper googling, but consider that here in Italy the term was only introduced by law as a classification of olive oil in 1960 - I'd be surprised if Spain would have done so before. (In fact, it looks to me like current official usage in Spain is "virgen extra", so that this "extra-virgen" might actually be a derivation from the Italian, and thus post-1960.)
posted by progosk at 8:51 AM on April 6, 2013

(By the bye: here's the guy who owned the shop selling the oil; though the "Los Laureles" selection is mentioned, I'd say there's no clear clue here to help date the label - the article is touristic history, and could well be backdating the origin of the brand. Also: here's what that label could sell for.)
posted by progosk at 9:27 AM on April 6, 2013

Response by poster: Progosk: Thanks for your input. I don't know exactly when the term "extra-virgen" came into use in Spain, but an associate of mine who is an olive oil expert (he has written a book on the history of the olive oil industry, including marketing, labeling, scams, etc.) told me, if I remember correctly, that "extra virgin" was first used in the English-speaking world around 1920. I have olive oil labels from France that date no later than 1905 (confirmed datings) that read "huile d'olive extra vierge". In any event, the "extra-virgen" route might be worth pursuing. I might even contact my friend and ask him about this. Currently, the term used is "virgem extra", as you point out. Judging from the looks of this label, I can't imagine it being later than the 1940s. Thanks again for pointing "extra-virgen" out to me!
posted by kirsti at 10:57 AM on April 6, 2013

Interesting, kirsti - I'm sure the legislation side of olive oil took its lead from what was actually already practice among the oil makers/labellers/sellers, so it's plausible that things were put on labels before becoming officially sanctioned. (Far as I can tell, the relevant 1981-1989 French law doesn't yet mention "extra-vierge" as an official category.)

Seems to me the origin of the term probably stems from other, older goods categories (I imagine "laine vierge-extra" is the likely precursor), so though 1905 seems very early, and France was was definitely always a minor oil producer compared to Spain or Italy, undoubtedly their commercial skills of bottling/branding/labelling were of such reknown that both design style and denomination vocabulary might well have spread beyond its borders even then.

Would be great if you could update here if/when you find out more.
posted by progosk at 3:16 PM on April 6, 2013

Response by poster: Progosk: I'll do that. Best regards.
posted by kirsti at 3:26 PM on April 6, 2013

Response by poster: Progosk: When I answered your last post, I had only seen the last sentence. You are probably right about the legislation in terms of categories having taken the lead from the practice in the industry. That's odd about the 1981-1989 French law making no mention of "extra vierge", given that French olive oil producers had been using this term on their labels for at least 90 years. France may have been a minor olive oil producer compared to Italy and Spain, but in the 1800s and first half of the 1900s, France had a pretty strong olive oil industry, at least in terms of the number of producers. There were so many that it's hard to keep track of them. Do you know anyone in Italy who collects olive oil labels? I believe that that is your location. The French produced many, many beautiful olive oil labels between about 1850 and 1950.
posted by kirsti at 3:53 PM on April 6, 2013

Haven't come across any oil label collectors here, no. The nicest local "label" collection I've seen was Luigi Ontani's orange wrapper stash - really lovely. (I would offer to send you one of our own olive oil labels, only they're printed right onto the bottle...)
posted by progosk at 4:26 PM on April 6, 2013

Response by poster: Progosk: Thanks for your reply. Please check out my website. Google "fruit wrappers", "olive oil labels" and "mark" at the same time. My website should be the first hit. That's a cool design on your bottle (ceramic?).
posted by kirsti at 4:31 PM on April 6, 2013

Heh, I'd already stumbled across your site, as it was referenced in an Italian article ;-)

(Yes, the bottle's grès.)
posted by progosk at 4:44 PM on April 6, 2013

Response by poster: I think I know which article it was. It was translated into Italian many years ago, if it's the one I think it is. Your English is native-speaker quality. Are you a fortunate soul who has settled in Tuscany perhaps? What a beautiful place!
posted by kirsti at 4:48 PM on April 6, 2013

Response by poster: Progosk: So, you must be quite knowledgeable about olive oil. Do you have a website?
posted by kirsti at 5:07 PM on April 6, 2013

posted by progosk at 8:30 AM on April 7, 2013

Response by poster: Progosk: I forgot to mention that in the late 1800s and early 1900s, France exported its olive oil the U.S., Russia, Viet Nam, India, Mexico, Belgium and probable other European countries.
posted by kirsti at 6:46 AM on April 9, 2013

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