Breweriana Collectibles

Breweriana Antique Advertising Collectibles

Breweriana Antique Advertising Collectibles

Breweriana includes any type of beer collectible related to breweries and beer. Beer collectibles have always been very popular and with a recent boom in microbreweries a new generation of people are finding out about different types of beer memorabilia. Accordingly, some of the original beer brands are being reintroduced which is creating an interest in the history of beer, the breweries that once made them and their original advertising.

1953 Griesedieck Bros. Flat Top Beer Cans

1953 Griesedieck Bros. Flat Top Beer Cans

Some of the most popular types of collectibles are beer trays, corner signs, reverse-on-glass signs and tin over cardboard signs. Other Breweriana collectibles include etched glasses, tap knobs, lithograph posters, clocks, beer cans and bottles. Collectors sometimes focus on a geographical area, a particular brand, or a style of an advertising piece. Some popular brands include Anheuser-Busch, Falstaff, Hamms, Pabst, Schlitz, Jacob Ruppert, Krueger, Maier, Frank Fehr, August Shell, Wm. J. Lemp, and smaller regional companies such as American Brewing Co., Griesedieck Bros., Hyde Park and Columbia Brewing Co. Breweriana items that typically command the highest value were produced prior to Prohibition that started in 1919, and these items can be worth several thousand dollars or more when in good condition.

Brewery Signs in High Demand

Breweriana Vintage Advertising Signs 1870-1950's

Breweriana Vintage Advertising Signs 1870-1950’s

Some of the most desirable types of Breweriana advertising were corner signs, reverse-on-glass signs and lithographs with early brewery factory scenes on lithographs. Corner signs were commonly made from tin, porcelain, brass and a glass called Vitrolite. The corner signs were placed outside the local saloons and were plentiful in the early 1900’s as revealed in old photographs. To find these signs today are rare which make them very valuable. An example of a corner sign is from The Bluff City Brewing Co. in Alton, Illinois depicting the company’s logo. These corner signs are typically worth several thousand dollars in good condition.

1905 Self Framed Tin Sign

1905 Self Framed Tin Sign Wm. J. Lemp

Reverse on Glass (ROG) signs are signs that incorporate a process of putting advertising on the backside of glass. They are considered rare and valuable due to the breakage of glass over the years. The paint could peel off of the backside of the glass due to moisture, heat, and many other factors.   Many pre-Prohibition signs were ROG’s but the process was still popular in the 1930’s-1950s. Tin over cardboard (TOC) signs have always been one of the most collected type of signs in the Breweriana world. TOC signs were used both before Prohibition and heavily again afterwards until the 1960s. A celluloid cover was sometimes placed over the tin advertising as a way to protect the design on the sign. TOC signs were eventually replaced with signs made strictly from cardboard because they were cheaper to make, easy to put up, and could be thrown out when the sign was worn due to weather or the advertising changed.

Beer trays originated in the late 1890’s and are very popular collectibles today. Most beer trays were lithograph designs on tin depicting the company’s logo or other image. Some trays were also made out of brass or porcelain. Most trays were circular, rectangular or oval and were used by servers to carry beer to patrons. Popular brands of these trays to collect are Budweiser, Miller, Pabst, and ABC Brewing. Tip trays also generate interest. They were smaller trays about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and designed for people to put tips in but also used as coasters and ashtrays. Chargers were oversized trays and were intended to hang on the wall of saloons for advertising.

Beer Popularity and Prohibition

One reason Breweriana is so popular is that beer is a favorite beverage of many and has been around so long. Although it’s not known when beer originated, it most likely came along when the cereal agriculture was developed about 12,000 years ago. In the United States, the popularity of ales and lagers was at its peak just before Prohibition when over 1300 breweries were established.  The beer industry dramatically changed during the national Prohibition from 1920 through 1933. Beer was labeled as intoxicating liquor by the government making it illegal to make, transport or sell beer. Breweries were only allowed to make “near beer” or beer with less than half of 1% alcohol content. A few of the most widely known near beer brands were Bevo produced by Anheuser-Busch, Pablo by Pabst, Vivo by Miller and Famo by Schlitz.

Prohibition Ended December 5, 1933

Prohibition Ended December 5, 1933

Some breweries remained in business during Prohibition by producing other products such as colas or mineral water. Pabst, Miller and Schlitz focused on using their malted grains as an extract for malted flavored dairy drinks or baked goods such as bread, tea biscuits and sweets. However, many consumers bought the malted grains to illegally make their own “home brew” as a way to get around the alcohol ban. Anheuser-Busch began making ice cream because they already owned refrigerated trucks and therefore reused them for transporting the ice cream. Adolph Coors’ Glass Works originally produced bottles for Coors beer and also had a pottery and ceramics division, so ultimately they expanded their non-beer division during Prohibition. The national Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933 and enabled the breweries to focus on beer production again.

Phoenix Brewing Co., Michigan's Pride Brushed Aluminum Sign, Bay City, MI. Ca. 1910

PHOENIX BREWING CO., BAY CITY, MI. MICHIGAN’S PRIDE BEER SIGN. Ca. 1910

Brushed aluminum Phoenix Beer sign from the Phoenix Brewery in Bay City, Michigan. Pre-Prohibition era.

Lemp's Brewery, St. Louis, MO. Stoneware Monk's Stein. Ca. 1900

LEMP’S BREWING CO. STONEWARE MONKS STEIN, ST. LOUIS, MO. Ca. 1900

Stoneware Pottery Beer Drinking Stein or Mug from The Wm. J. Lemp Brewery in St. Louis, MO. Circa 1900.

Consumer's Brewing Company Glass Mug, St. Louis, MO. Circa 1905

CONSUMER’S BREWING CO., GLASS BEER MUG, ST. LOUIS, MO. Circa 1905

Pre-Prohibition Litho Consumers Brewing Company Glass Beer Mug from Saint Louis, Missouri.

Tonica Ideal Beverage Tin Sign, Indianapolis, IN

TONICA IDEAL BEVERAGE, TIN SIGN, PROHIBITION DRINK. INDIANAPOLIS, IN. Circa 1925

Isengart Brewing Co., Tin Serving Tray, Troy, NY. Circa 1910

ISENGART BREWING CO., METAL SERVING TRAY, TROY, N.Y. Circa 1910

This serving tray is from the Isengart Brewing Company in Troy, N.Y. A great pre-pro era metal advertising tray!

Bellingham Bay Brewery, Whatcom, WA. Pre-Pro ServingTray. Circa 1910

BELLINGHAM BAY BREWERY 3-B BEER SERVING TRAY, WHATCOM, WA. Ca. 1910

Herman Berghoff Brewing Co., Ft. Wayne, IN Litho. Circa 1900

Herman Berghoff Brewing Company Lithographic Factory Scene Print, Ft. Wayne, IN. Ca. 1900

An early litho from the Herman Berghoff Brewery in Fort Wayne, Indiana for their Dortmunder and Salvator Brands of Beer.

John C. Vance Iron Horse Shoes Rolled Edge Sign, Chattanooga, TN. Circa 1900

PEOPLES BREWERY, TRENTON, N.J., GESSO FRAMED REVERSE ON GLASS SIGN, Circa 1905

Gesso Framed Reverse on Glass Sign from the Peoples Brewery in Trenton, New Jersey. Pre-Prohibition era, circa 1905.

Haberle Brewing Co., Congress Beer Sign, Syracuse, N.Y., Circa 1910

HABERLE BREWING CO., SYRACUSE, N.Y., CONGRESS BEER PRE-PRO SIGN. Circa 1905

Buffalo Brewing Co, Sacramento, CA. Gesso Framed Sign. Circa 1910

BUFFALO BREWING CO., SACRAMENTO, CA., GESSO FRAMED TIN SIGN. Circa 1910

Beautiful Gesso Framed Buffalo Brewing Co Bohemian Delicious Beer Charger Sign. Sacramento, CA.