by Augie H. Lems
Hi Bob- I've been a reader of your column but don't think I've ever
seen anything about my topic - Breweriana - collecting beer related
stuff. Time was when like thousands (millions?) of other beer people
like me collected rusty beer cans and neon bar signs, the more
outrageous, the better. In general Breweriana is mostly associated
with marketing items — things with beer brand names or slogans:
Drink more Pabst, Stroh’s, Schlitz, Dixie, Tudor, Valley Forge, Iron City
Toledo’s Buckeye Brewery, etc. A lot of people like to decorate their
home with it; others collect it for the nostalgia and others for profit.
Now however things have changed a bit in the collecting community.
Oh, cans and bottles are still a large part of the mix, but these days a
beer memorabilia show is as likely to see people dealing over mirrors
and lamps and vintage beer truck delivery guy caps as an old bottle
or can or coaster. You can even find old recordings of beer
commercials played during baseball radio broadcasts for sale.
In the early ’70s beer can collecting first became really popular with
kids 10 to 14. We began collecting beer cans because of the artwork
and the different colors. It was always a mission to find something you
didn’t have. And many of those collectors ultimately became the now
40-and 50-year-old guys who never lost the passion. And the people
who immerse themselves in collecting are as diverse as the names on
the cans. While they may share a common passion, yet they tend
to specialize in a niche.
The niche can be very narrow or very wide. For a long time, I
collected only signs that came from beer companies in Newark
New Jersey. I think that's one of the reasons why collecting
Breweriana has become so popular, because at one time, almost
every small town had a brewery of it's own. Many collectors now
specialize in Breweries from their hometown. Others specialize in a
certain type of advertising, for example: Coasters, Labels, Trays,
Signs, Openers, Tap Knobs, etc. The list goes on.
Think about the last time you visited a grocery or beverage store.
Have you ever looked at the different brands of beer on the shelves
and in the coolers? Have you been beguiled by the variety, graphics,
and colors of the packaging? Have you admired the neon and lighted
signs that advertise beer at your local watering hole? Or had a
brewery-branded book of matches, napkin, or coaster catch your
eye? If so you might understand the passion we collectors have.
Breweriana first appeared in the national lexicon with the 1972
formulation of the National Association of Breweriana Advertising, also
known as NABA. Collecting started long before however most likely
right after the very first beer cans, from the Krueger Brewing
Company, showed up in stores in January 1935.
Bob, it's a fun hobby filled with wonderful people. I hope you and your
readers might attend a breweriana show. There are many local ones
throughout the country. Even more, I hope you will join we collectors
in the job of preserving a bit of beer history!
Thanks for sending your article in, Augie. You're right - it's the only
one I've ever received on breweriana. I too have saved beer cans
and coasters and can appreciate your affection for the hobby.
While it doesn't seem to be the fad it once was brewerian remains
a wonderful hobby that I can recommend. That's especially true
in this era of craft beer. With so many new breweries the tings
available to collect are more numerous than ever before. Great
job, Augie; I really enjoyed your article. Hope you write again!
I'd like to invite everyone to send me their own columns about
anything related to beer/drinking/booze just as Henry did. I select
the best and publish them here. So join in and get writing.
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