Though the citrus Golden Eagle Brand was used extensively by the Chapman
brothers—after they acquired a fruit ranch in Placentia, California
and an orange orchard in Covina, California in 1894—the brand
is believed to have first appeared in 1890 for the marketing of citrus
grown on Michael Baldridge's orchards in Covina, East San Gabriel Valley,
This article describes the various applications of the Golden Eagle
image on citrus packing box labels, and provides illustrations showing
variations of the eagle's image—from a majestic, perched pose
to an expansive, spread-wing pose.
When the Covina townsite was formed in 1885, Michael Baldridge owned
the first nursery in the valley at a ranch on Cypress Ave. Soon orange
groves appeared in the area, with Joseph Swift Phillips planting the
first grove—twelve acres at the intersection of Hollenbeck and
San Bernardino roads. The next groves were planted by the Adams, Overholtzer,
and Joe families. All of these early orchards were successful, and subsequently
many more orchards were planted. Initially, marketing the fruit was
a serious issue, but the formation of the Azusa, Covina, and Glendora
Fruit Exchange in the late 1890s solved the packing and shipping problems.
By 1891, Baldridge owned an active orange grove, as evidenced by a
legal claim that said some of his trees had wood borers and his orchard
should be quarantined. The claim was made after an inspection of his
grove found borers in orange trees. However, a follow-up investigation
of the dead and adjacent trees revealed the trees had died from gum
disease and were not killed by borers.
Baldridge marketed his oranges using the Golden Eagle Brand. An approximate
representation of the shipping box label design is depicted in the image
shown to the right which was sketched from a copy of the original black
and white label from the Clyde Searcy collection which also includes
Baldridge's portrait obtained from another source. Under the right wing
of the eagle is Baldridge’s home built of stone. In the left bottom
corner is the annotation:
"Etna Green" Orchard 5000 trees
Chocolate Mart Belt, East San Gabriel Valley
They will "Testify for business" if put on the stand
I pack only my own output
Yours respectively, M. Baldridge
Covina, Los Angeles, Cal
About 1894, Baldridge sold his Etna Green ranch to brothers Frank and
Charles Chapman in exchange for their printing business in Chicago.
Not long afterwards, on May 28, 1898, the Covina Fruit Exchange was
organized. In the first year, 299 cars of fruit were shipped through
this exchange, bringing in $143,688 to the growers. Steady increases
followed; 1050 cars of fruit were shipped in 1910 and 1911, with the
growers receiving $737,367.
Frank and Charles Chapman
Both Frank and Charles Chapman agreed to use an attractive design on
their labels so that their shipping boxes would draw attention at auctions
in the East. After the summer of 1894, when both brothers had moved
to Southern California to manage their newly-acquired fruit ranches
in Covina and Placentia, they arranged for a small printer to design
the image for the Chapman's Old Mission Brand. This brand represented
their top quality fruit. A newspaper article from that period reported
the Chapman brothers shipped a large crop of oranges from their orchards
in Placentia in January 1895.
The Chapman's Golden Eagle Brand represented their choice quality fruit.
The brand name was likely taken from Michael Baldridge and is listed
in the 1900 issue of the Citrus Brand Register. The original
label design was printed by Schmidt circa 1900 to 1915. Frank Chapman's
version, shown left. The image in this version depicts the eagle in
a perched position. In the lower right corner, "California Oranges"
is printed with the word "Oranges" in large lettering. The
bottom left of the label reads:
Grown and packed by
Frank M. Chapman
Charles Chapman also used the early version of the Chapman's Golden
Eagle Brand label, shown left. The image in this version likewise depicts
the eagle in a perched position. In the lower right corner, "California
Oranges" is printed with the word "Oranges" in large
lettering. The bottom left of the label reads:
Grown and packed by
Chas C. Chapman
Fullerton, Orange Co., Cal.
Western Litho Company in Los Angeles was employed to re-design the
Golden Eagle image from the perched pose to a spread-wing pose. In addition,
“Chapman's” was deleted from the brand name, and “An
Exclusive Chapman Pack” was added beneath the brand name. A header
was also added to identify the fruit variety, such as Valencias, Valencia
Lates, or Lemons. There are instances where the header was cropped.
Following Frank Chapman's death in 1909, his citrus fruit enterprise
continued with the annotation:
Grown and Packed by
Col. Frank M. Chapman
While there is no known record of the use of Chapman's Golden Eagle
Brand by the estate enterprise, the Citrus Roots Foundation California
Brand List includes a Golden Eagle Brand used by Frank M. Chapman.
Below are two examples of these Golden Eagle Brand shipping box labels.
Annotations at the bottom read:
Charles C. Chapman,
Fullerton. Orange County, California
Venture into Central California
In 1926, Frank and Charles Chapman purchased the Gillette Ranch in
Lindsay, Tulare County, California. Renamed Chapman Orchards, this ranch
was managed by their sons, respectively Frank and Stanley. They had
a dedicated railroad siding which was named El Mirador.
All of the Chapman labels were used, including the Golden Eagle Brand
as well as existing Gillette labels, which were modified.
Shown left is the Golden Eagle Brand label. Annotations at the bottom
Grown & Packed by
El Mirador, Tulare County, California
Placentia Orchard Company
The Golden Eagle Brand label was modified again in 1940 when Charles
Chapman deleted the header and printed the fruit variety above the brand
name. In addition, he switched the grower and shipper annotation from
Charles C. Chapman to Placentia Orchard Company on all of his labels.
However, the Golden Eagle still resided in Fullerton, as shown by the
Golden Eagle Brand label at left.
The annotation across the bottom reads:
Grown and shipped by Placentia Orchard Company
Operated under personal direction of Charles C. Chapman for more than
The Citrus Roots Foundation California Brand List includes two
other organizations that used the Golden Eagle Brand: Redlands Foothill
Groves and I.L. Lyon & Sons of Redlands, both of which may have
been associated with Michael Baldridge. In addition, Golden Eagle Brand
is listed as a stock label.
Illustrator's View of Eagle Images
The Golden Eagle Brand image changed several times throughout the years
of its usage.
Looking at the first known use of the Golden Eagle Brand image in 1891
by Michael Baldridge of Covina, the eagle shared space with Baldridge's
portrait and stone home.
Next, the image of the golden eagle can be seen majestically perched
on a branch in the Chapman's Golden Eagle Brand used by Frank and Charles
Chapman in the early 1900s in Covina and Fullerton.
During the early 1920s, Charles Chapman replaced the image with the
eye-opening, spread-wing pose of the Golden Eagle.
In 1926, one version of the Golden Eagle orange label flew to Lindsay,
California for a short stay on the Gillette Ranch, and then rejoined
other Golden Eagles in Fullerton with the same image. For the version
of the lemon label, the illustrator took advantage of wider image space,
and spread the eagle's wings a bit to show that it was ready to take
flight with its fruit in tow.
The Golden Eagle Brand label continued to be used in the early 1940s.
Contributors and Sources for This Article
- Clyde Searcy, Citrus Label Society
- Citrus Roots Foundation California Brands List
- Citrus Roots Foundation Citrus Label Store
- Irvin Clarke Chapman (son of Charles C. Chapman)
- Sally Finnila-Sloane (executive assistant, ICC Enterprises)
- Virginia L. Carpenter (former librarian, City of Placentia)