The metal serving tray from the William J. Lemp Brewing Company in St. Louis, MO truly portrayed an image of elite society or high class with their Top Hat Man image or logo used in much of their 1900 era advertising. This particular Chas Shonk produced tray shows a elegantly dressed man eating oysters and drinking Lemp beer on it. This image was used extensively by the Lemp Brewery in many of their paper advertising promotions of the pre-prohibition era. This brewery was in their infancy of making the Falstaff brand of beer a nationally known leader, as it was just introduced in 1898 by the brewery. You can clearly see the progression of Lemp advertising from their traditional Lemp Pale, Tally, Extra Pale, and Lager beers to a more focused advertising campaign towards the Falstaff brand. This particular tray was also produced by the Shonk company for the American Wine Company, also out of Saint Louis, for their Cooks Imperial Champagne brand.
The William J. Lemp Brewing Company at one time was one of the ten largest breweries in the United States. Before prohibition went into effect the brewery rivaled if not outsold Anheuser-Busch for some of the times. The Lemp brewery was one of the first breweries to sell their products nationwide, and even outside the U.S. with their extensively developed wholesale network which accounted for about 200 sites throughout the U.S. Today Lemp Beer advertising signs, bottles, etched and embossed beer glasses with the Lemp logo, and many other items are found regularly across the United States.