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. It is rare to find these signs today 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.

Consumers Brewing Co, New Orleans, LA. Serving Tray. Circa 1905

CONSUMERS BREWING CO, NEW ORLEANS, LA. METAL SERVING TRAY. Ca. 1910

Tin serving tray featuring The Consumers Brewing Company in New Orleans, LA. Pre-Pro era, circa 1905-1910

Saint Louis ABC Beer Lithographic Print. Ca. 1905

ABC LITHOGRAPHIC BEER SIGN WITH EAGLE FLYING OVERHEAD. Ca. 1905

ABC Beer Brand, American Brewing Company, St. Louis, MO. Paper lithgraphic sign.

Cream City Serving Tray, Milwaukee WI. Circa 1910

CREAM CITY BREWING COMPANY METAL SERVING TRAY, MILWAUKEE, WI. Ca. 1910

Cream City Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin tin pre-prohibition serving tray. Circa 1910.

Indianapolis, IN Brewing Co Progress Brand Beer Ale Porter Pre-Pro Serving Tray. Ca. 1910

PROGRESS BEER, INDIANAPOLIS, IN BREWING CO. SERVING TRAY. Ca. 1910

Featured is an early pre prohibition serving tray from the Indianapolis, Indiana Brewing Company for their Progress Brand of beer, ale and porter products.

Lemp Beer Tally Pennant Tin Sign, St. Louis, MO. Circa 1900

WM. J. LEMP BREWING CO., TALLY BOTTLED BEER TIN PENNANT SIGN. ST. LOUIS, MO. Ca. 1900

Featured is an early tin sign from the William J. Lemp Brewing Company in St. Louis, MO for their Tally brand of bottled beer.

Jos. Schlitz Buck Beer Lithograph Poster, Milwaukee, WI. Ca. 1900

JOS. SCHLITZ BUCK BEER PRE-PROHIBITION LITHOGRAPH, MILWAUKEE, WI. Ca. 1900

Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company Buck Beer lithographed goat in a man’s suit poster. Circa 1900. Milwaukee, WI.

Deer Park Brewing Co Serving Tray, Port Jarvis N.Y. Circa 1910

DEER PARK BREWING CO., LAGER, ALE & PORTER SERVING TRAY, PORT JARVIS, N.Y., Ca. 1910

Alabama Brewing Co., Ideal Bottled Beer Serving Tray, Birmingham, AL. Circa 1910

BIRMINGHAM BREWING CO., IDEAL BOTTLED BEER SERVING TRAY, AL. Circa 1910

Genesee Brewing Co, Rochester, N.Y. ROG Factory Sign. Circa 1900

GENESSEE BREWERY CO. FACTORY SCENE, REVERSE ON GLASS SIGN, ROCHESTER, N.Y. Ca. 1900

Reverse on Glass Factory Scene from the Genessee Brewing Company in Rochester, N.Y. Circa 1900.

Phillip Zang Brewery Co., Denver, CO. Reverse on Glass Sign. Ca. 1900

PHILLIP ZANG BREWING CO., PILSENER BEER REVERSE ON GLASS SIGN, DENVER, CO., Ca. 1900

Reverse on Glass Phillip Zang Brewing Company Sign, Denver, CO. Pre-Prohibition, circa 1900 with gesso frame.