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Design On Wine - Sponsored by AQ Australia

AQ Australia is Australia’s most environmentally friendly wine label printer. There’s no product that so proudly carries ‘Product of Australia’ on its own packaging than Australian wine and AQ Australia is proud to be the industry’s foremost wine label printer. AQ transcended traditional printing methods, in 1995, when they became the first totally waterless printer, providing major benefits to the environment. No other printer in Australia can boast more experience with this environmentally sound process, delivering brighter and better definition, tougher scuff resistance and faster delivery times.

A Quick History of Labelling

We tend to use the words 'sticker' and 'ticket' loosely these days, unaware that we're dredging through the very origins of product labelling. Etiquette referred to the rigid rules of behaviour at court, as advertised on slips of paper placed at strategic spots around the place. That gave us the ticket. By the early eighteenth century, smart printers had worked out how to print sheets of tickets, cut them out, and glue them to bottles: estiquier: sticker.

Labelling, as we know it, was rare at the beginning of the 18th century. Apothecaries had long used strips of paper to record details of their potions. They tied these to the necks of their bottles by cord. The Chinese has used marked silk wrapping to identify things for many centuries; other civilisations has used marked clay tablets, stone, papyrus and parchment.

Labels first concerned themselves with the written word. They provided very basic information about the product, usually scored by hand, according to the fashionable script of the day. Embellishments, like pictorial borders, began appearing in the 16th century. Yet when Thomas Jefferson was appointed Ambassador to France in 1785, he had his precious collection of vintage Lafite bottles simply and elegantly etched with two cursive letters: T J . Paper labels were not yet normal practise in the cellars of the stylish rich.

Actual illustrations gradually became more common aspects of labelling throughout the 18th century, and before long the whole thing became what we now call packaging: not just an identifying device, but one which warns, advises, promotes, and sells the item.

Things took a turn when Aloys Senefelder invented lithography in 1796, making it possible to print etiquettes in up to 12 colours. By then the modern typeface designs of Bodoni and Didot were in circulation. A few years later Niepce was discovering photography, and marketers were pushing for new technologies to wrap all this evolution and invention around their products, which were, more and more, being mass-produced.

Throughout the latter part of the 18th century, malaga, madiera, cognac, canary sack, gin and ale began habitually sporting fashionable labels, with the famous, and instantly recognised, red triangle of Bass Ale becoming the world's first registered trademark.

In 1895 patents were registered in Germany for the first bottle labelling device. This invention had been pushed along as the mass production of bottles improved. Early in the 1900s the west realised the potential of the ancient Japanese art of silk screening, and began adapting it to print directly onto containers like glass, or to improve the quality of other aspects of the printing and labelling processes.

Now we have self-adhesive stickers, eco-friendly solvent-free waterless printing, and printing screens finer than the old silksmiths would ever have dreamed of. The bar code is already outmoded by reactive chips which can be printed into the paper of a label, and now we even see the arrival of the label which includes a chip with its own printed aerial, so it can be tracked around the globe by satellite, and can be coded irrevocably with the details of every transaction and point of sale that particular item goes through. It's etiquette, see.

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