Last Bite - The Driver Label
Jasper Dunham was an independent fruit broker in the 1920s until an early death cut short his fruit career.
Although a golf theme was used by the Dunham company, it is believed that the owner was not a golfer, but that he assumed the theme would be popular with buyers.
The Driver brand label, which dates from the mid-1920s, was the only label ever used by Jasper S. Dunham of Yakima, Washington. Mr. Dunham was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1885 and was a 1908 Dartmouth College graduate. After marrying in 1910, Dunham and his new wife moved to Spokane, Washington, where he began a career selling life insurance and weather shipping coverage. During the course of underwriting fruit shippers, he evidently became a friend of J.M. Perry, a Yakima businessman with fruit warehouses, packing plants, and a plant for making the ice used in the railroad cars that transported fruit to markets outs of the area. Perry convinced Dunham to move to Yakima and join him in the fruit shipping business. This partnership lasted just a few years before Dunham decided to become an independent fruit broker.
At that time, there were two kinds of brokers—selling brokers and buying brokers. Buying brokers were also known as cash buyers because they paid cash for fruit the minute it was loaded on a rail car. Even though cash buyers often paid a lower price than might be obtained from a selling broker in the wholesale marketplace, the advantage for the warehouse owner was that the cash buyer then assumed the risk of selling the fruit at whatever price was being paid at the time the railcar reached its destination. Dunham enjoyed an excellent reputation as a buying broker; he paid the warehouses a fair price and yet still managed to make a profit for his work. The Driver label was custom-designed to help sell the fruit that Dunham bought.
Dunham may have developed other labels as his business prospered, but in May of 1927 the entire Dunham family was looking forward to a combination business and pleasure trip to Europe. Departure was planned for Thursday, but just 3 days before, on Monday of the same week, Dunham had a routine tonsillectomy, developed complications, and died very suddenly. He was just 42 years old, but there was no sulfa or penicillin yet available to treat the infection.
The rose window at the Yakima First Presbyterian Church, which was being built at this time, is dedicated to Dunham, and the story of his death is told in the church history files.
The Driver label is considered to be a thematic label, with the theme being, of course, the sport of golfing. It is one of the most rare labels produced by Columbian Art Works of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ironically, it is believed Jasper Dunham did not even play golf; he obviously thought, however, that a golfing image would appeal to his buyers.