Hartley Metal Labels

And now a bit of plant tag nostalgia. Made in England by the British company Clear Span, Hartley Metal Labels are undoubtedly no longer offered for sale anywhere. These “vintage” plant tags were offered to me at recent meeting of the Northwest Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society.

Hartley Metal Labels

Hartley Metal Labels (Click photo to more easily read instruction sheet)

Age wise, our chapter skews toward the senior end of the spectrum.  Many of us are downsizing and that means going through our gardening stuff. So to raise money for the chapter, the owner who unearthed the labels was offering them at a recent meeting’s silent auction.  She was planning to continue her love of rock garden plants, but no longer had use for these beauties.

hartley label6

I immediately fell in love with the elegant slim labels manufactured of anodized aluminum. The marking surface is slightly concave, which adds to the longevity of the label.

hartley label2

Label written with ordinary #2 pencil

As the manufacturer suggested decades ago, ordinary pencil with a blunt tip and a bit of pressure will render a tag that is legible for at least a season. Better still is to use a “wax pencil,” often referred to as a china or grease pencil.

There’s quite an interesting backstory around the Hartley Metal Label.  My cat Zoe seems to be interested in doing some of the research.

Zoe looking for more info

Zoe looking for more info

Clear Span’s founder, Vincent Hartley started his company in 1938, primarily to make greenhouses.  Hartley, an inventor, entrepreneur and Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, was known for quite a few inventions.  You can read more about Vincent Hartley here,  Remembering Vincent Hartley.. and here, Hartley Metal Labels.

2 thoughts on “Hartley Metal Labels

  1. Hi can you buy the aluminium labels? I am the daughter of Vincent Hartley, and would love to purchase some.

  2. Hello Candice,
    So nice to hear from you. My guess is that the only way you can find these labels would be at an antique store that has a good supply of vintage gardening and other tools — especially in Britain. The link I posted at the bottom of the above post: Hartley Metal Labels, was to https://www.minttheshop.com/ — an online seller of RETRO & MID-CENTURY MODERN DESIGN — for a previously sold item. That link no longer works, since sold items are eventually removed. I might be able to send you a few of them, but only if I can find my buried stack in my cluttered greenhouse.

    Best regards,

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