Is there a library or archive that collects labels from alcohol bottles? Outside of individual distilleries, vineyards, and hooch factories, of course. An institution with an all-encompassing (or at least a regionally-focused) collection dedicated to the preservation and study of those artistic ads slapped onto the sides of hooch containers.
There are menu collections at New York Public Library, Cornell, University of Washington, and Culinary Institute of America — so there is obviously an interest in saving those bits of ephemera that would normally get shmutzed in the process of a good night out and wiped down or chucked in thrash the next morning.
These menus teach us about food trends, demographic and economic changes, and cultures in and of the geographic area of focus. And that’s amazing. But what about labels stuck on bottles of booze? Surely they could offer a similar education.
Would the entire bottle be preserved? It is part of the product’s image as much as the label. Plus, it’s probably easier to save the whole thing than to remove the label and risk damaging it. How would it be removed without damaging the material or the design?
These are questions I didn’t have in grad school, but now wish I could have asked my preservation and conservation professor.
The Archives of Michigan has a collection of liquor labels from alcohol produced in the state. Considering how highly regulated the sale of alcohol is in the US, there must be unofficial collections tucked away in state liquor control or tax offices, right? If anyone knows about a regional liquor label archive or an institution that has a collection policy that covers it, let me know. This is such a fascinating subject.