Say Cheese!! Camembert Label Collecting

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>At French flea markets you see a variety of collectibles you never knew were collectible! You find old (and by old I mean really old) mustard pots, tin boxes and yogurt jars. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” – especially if the trash is a few hundred years old! One perfectly-packable collectible I adore is Camembert Labels – those bright round labels found on boxes of pungent cheese from Normandy. So popular is label collecting that there is even a name for the people who do it – tyrosemiophiles!

Over the years I’ve bought my fair share of camembert and being the Frugal Diva that I am, I’ve saved the boxes (cleaned by filling with baking soda to remove the “smelly cheese” smell). I use these boxes as organizers, holding tacks, clips and other accessories that get lost in cavernous drawers. It seems so charmingly French that camembert comes in “wooden boxes” rather than cardboard containers. But in fact this tradition was started in the 19th C for exporting the cheese to America! The wood provided the perfect humidity for transport but as technology passed by the tradition lingered!

Popular scenes on labels include everything from luscious milk maidens to man’s first walk on the moon! Prices for labels run less than a euro each ($1.40) but move upwards the rarer the scene depicted is. Occasionally artisans will turn camembert boxes into small wall clocks – selling these for $10-15 each. Of course, you can make them yourself by picking up a clock kit at your local hobby store.


The Antiques Diva™

(seen at right with the famous Gouda cheese of her second home, Holland)

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Author: Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America's largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.

  • My Mom just passed away, and I found a book full of 90 Camembert labels. I’ve no idea how old they are (the book they are in looks quite old). Would anyone be interested in them?

  • You re-ignited an interest my Father had as he was born in Normandie. Well I found his collection in an album. He passed 20 years ago but I will continue the collection. Now that I look carefully (about 40 examples), a couple appear to be pre-war and several from 50s and 60s. I see at least one match (the old couple) from your photo. How fun! Dennis Farez

  • The boxes are so cute, I hate to throw them away. Why do they do that to us? Make us keep piles of things too cute to throw away. My problem is I don't remember what I put in the boxes.

  • My first night in Paris this past July we dined on the terrace of a little bistro in the 11th. The bill was presented in a Camembert box… perfect for a slightly breezey night. Of course when I paid the bill, I asked and the waiter graciously allowed me to keep the box.
    Les Souvenirs des la Reine

  • I love the labels and little wooden containers that
    Camembert cheese come in too and have saved some of them.
    Have you ever watched the series called Cheese Slices? It is lovely if you get the chance.
    They show the different cheeses from all around the world and it is really interesting.


  • gouda princess! Well, I guess I'm a tyrosemiophiles of sorts, too! I'm loving these labels and I never knew that little fact about why the boxes were wood – you are such a smart cookie and always sharing such interesting – and beautiful – things.
    xo Isa