Perham Fruit Company used these five labels during the 1920s  and 1930s.

Perham Fruit Company used these five labels during the 1920s and 1930s.

Some of the most beautiful and sought-after fruit labels that collectors desire are the old Perham labels. Illustrated here are the five original company labels from the 1920s and 1930s. There are variations of each label. Swan, Tulip, Violet, Pelican, and Goldenrod were used for the Extra Fancy and Fancy grades of apples and pears that were packed under the Perham Fruit Company name.

Ben Perham could almost be called a local “boy” who made good, having been born in Hood River, Oregon, in 1879 of real pioneer folk. His mother came west in 1851 by sailing ship, negotiating the Isthmus of Panama by mule back. Her father was the first Presbyterian minister in the Pacific Northwest. His father came westward to Oregon in 1850 on a prairie schooner. For several years, the elder Perham was a steamboat captain who also farmed and raised sheep.

Benjamin Agnew Perham was the youngest of twelve children, ten of whom were boys. He completed his education, graduating from high school in Portland, Oregon, a town of 15,000 residents at that time. His first job was as a floor salesman for Goodyear Rubber Company in Portland, but he later joined two of his brothers who were general contractors in Butte, Montana. Perham became active in the fruit business in 1902 as a salesman for Ryan Fruit Company, a wholesale fruit and produce firm in Butte. The Ryan Fruit Company used the original Chief Joseph label to market its fruit. He worked for Ryan until 1904 when he became manager and partner in a fruit and grocery brokerage firm in Seattle. In 1912, Perham went to work for the Yakima Fruit Growers Association as sales manager. Yakima Fruit Growers was a cooperative marketing, packing, and storage company with plants up and down the Yakima Valley.

The following year he was instrumental in establishing a general cooperative sales organization, with headquarters in Spokane, marketing tree fruit for most of the cooperative fruit groups in the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. This organization was named the North Pacific Fruit Distributors, and Perham was elected sales manager. He made the entire world the sales market of North Pacific Fruit, and he is credited with making the Northwest apple known in remote places. Serving until 1917, he became the general manager of the Earl Fruit

Company of the Northwest, whose headquarters were also in Spokane. Throughout this time, Perham was watching for an opportunity to form his own fruit company. In 1919, he began his venture into fruit packing, storage, and marketing, calling it the Perham Fruit Company.

Having worked as manager for some of the largest fruit distribution companies, Perham was undoubtedly one of the most experienced and knowledgeable fruit men in the business. With this background, he built his own company into one of the big concerns of the Northwest. Perham also became president of the Grandview Storage Company, Northwest Brogdex Company, and Mount Adams Orchards. His many outside interests, especially in the educational field, brought him an appointment in 1932 as a regent at Washington State College. He served as president for a time, and spent six years on the Yakima school board. There was hardly a civic organization around that did not benefit from his service. He became a director of Seattle First National Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank as well.

As president of Mount Adams Orchards, he was responsible for development of the largest d’Anjou pear orchard in the world, which shipped from 100 to 160 cars yearly in the time that the orchards were under his control.