Since the late 19th century, beer trays featuring company advertisements have been produced for both home and public use. The earliest printed beer trays were created by the Tuscarora Advertising Company of Coshocton, Ohio, around 1895. Breweries could either commission a unique design or use one of Tuscarora’s stock images tailored to include their logo, bottle design, and other specific details. In direct competition with Tuscarora was the Standard Advertising Company, also of Coshocton, which quickly began printing its own lithographed tin trays. Both of these manufacturers identified their work with their name and a copyright date along the tray's lower rim.

Though collected today for their visual appeal and branding (Budweiser, Miller, Blatz, and Pabst are just a few of the major beer brands with devoted followers), beer trays were designed as tools to carry beer bottles and glasses from bar to table. The most common trays were circular with a 12-to-13 inch diameter, although oval and rectangular trays were also produced. While the majority were manufactured from lithographed tin, others were created from solid brass or decorated with porcelain enamel.

The smallest beer trays are known as “tip” trays, although they were more likely used as coasters or ashtrays. Oversized trays, called “chargers,” were generally produced as decorative wall pieces and were not meant for day-to-day use.

While Prohibition was in effect, breweries stayed in business by focusing on colas, mineral water, or alcoholic drinks with less than half of 1% alcohol by volume. These so-called “near beers” were meant to taste and resemble beer but without its detrimental physical and mental effects. Thus, businesses continued to sell beer trays, though their advertising was modified to feature these updated products, like the Prohibition-era Falls City Ice & Beverage Co. trays, which show a chilled bottle of “Falls City Special Brew.”

During the early 20th century, many small communities had their own breweries, which were often housed in the largest, most impressive structures in town. Beer trays frequently featured images of these local brewers, with forgotten names like Stegmaier Brewing, Peter Doelger Beer & Ale, or the I. Leisy Brewing Co. Besides brewery-specific imagery, other popular tray graphics included nature scenes, animal mascots, and of course shapely females. Quirkier trays emphasized a company’s authentic German roots, showed exciting scenes of the Wild West, or simply used comedic cartoons to sell their frosty beverages.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Beer Tray Information Site

Beer Tray Information Site

A treasure trove of beer trays for the breweriana enthusiast! Divided up by brewery, geography, and theme, it's eas… [read review or visit site]

Red Fox Chapter

Red Fox Chapter

The guys at the Connecticut Chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America have created a full-on tribute to t… [read review or visit site]

Advertising Antiques

Advertising Antiques

This classy looking British site features hundreds of high resolution photos of antique porcelain pre-war (enamel) … [read review or visit site]

Bottle Cap Index

Bottle Cap Index

Assembled by Gunther Rademacher with the help of several other contributors, this collection of over half a million… [read review or visit site]

Ad Access

Ad Access

Duke University's library has pulled together an impressive collection of over 7,000 ads printed in U.S. and Canadi… [read review or visit site]

Plopsite.de

Plopsite.de

Norbert Lamping's collection of 600+ ceramic bottle stoppers, Hutter stoppers, swingtops, swivel stoppers, and ligh… [read review or visit site]

American Package Museum

American Package Museum

Ian House's gallery of early 20th Century American package designs. Browse the exhibits in slide show mode or view … [read review or visit site]

Bock Beer Labels

Bock Beer Labels

A quick tour of pre-Prohibition bock beer label designs with nice, high resolution scans. Do the whole slide show o… [read review or visit site]

Found in Moms Basement

Found in Moms Basement

Paula Zargaj-Reynolds’ blog, an extensive collection of 20th century vintage advertising, is a visual feast. Scro… [read review or visit site]

Trappist Beers and Monks

Trappist Beers and Monks

An interesting site dedicated to Trappist beers and the history of the development of beer brewed by Trappist Bened… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1916 Buffalo Brewing Co. Of California Tin Lithograph Serving Tray / Beer TrayScarce Pre-pro Beverwyck Beer Brewery Factory Scene Tin Serving Tray Albany Ny Vintage Empire State Lager Beer Tray, Empire State Brewery Olean Ny Beer TrayOld England Ale Lager Beer Tray Derby Connecticut Conn Ct Jousting Knight 1930'sCa1900 Henry Weinhard Brewery Tin Lithograph Advertising Serving Tray Beer TrayEarly 30's Beer Tray-genesee 12 Horse Ale-genesee Brewing Co. Rochester, NyRare Antique Vintage The Erie Brewing Company Tin Tip Tray Beer CoasterVintage Pre Prohibition Detroit Michigan Mundus Beer West Side Brewery Co Tray 1913 Peter Schoenhofen Brewery Tin Lithograph Advertising Serving Tray Beer TrayHanley's Peerless Ale Bulldog Beer TrayCirca 1910 Stroh’s Malt Extract Tip Tray, Detroit, MichiganHazelton Pilsener 1940 Beer TrayRare Antique Vintage Ca 1910 Litho Erie Brewing Co Tray Beer Purity Age StrengthAntique Croft Ale Tin Litho Beer Tray Vintage Bar Sign Red Label Ale Cream StoutRyan's Pure Beer Tip TrayArnholt Schaefer Brewing Beer Tray.1907 Duff Gordon Sherry Tin Lithograph Advertising Tray Vienna Art PlateHarvard Brewing Beer Tray Lowell MaCirca 1910 Koppitz-melchers Oval Elf Tray, Detroit, MichiganMoerlein Brewery Pre Prohibition Beer Tray1905 Tin Lithograph Advertising Tray Vienna Art Plate Angelo Asti Pretty Girl #11930s Hohenadel Brewing Co. Tin Lithograph Advertising Serving Tray Beer TrayDick's Brewing Beer Tray Quincy Illinois1915 Ruhstaller Brewery Tin Lithograph Advertising Serving Tray World's Fair1907 Hemrich Bros Brewing Select Beer Advertise Tray Pre Prohibition Seattle WaVintage Dawes Brewery Black Horse Ale & Porter Biere Enamel Porcelain Tray Cataract Brewing Rochester Ny Beer Tray1930's Vintage Hull's Ale / Lager Tray, Hull's Brewing Co. New Haven, Conn Utica Club Wood Beer Crate Utica N.y.Antique Indianapolis Brewing Company Liebers Gold Medal Beer Tray Tin Adv Sign1905 Tin Lithograph Advertising Tray Vienna Art Plate Angelo Asti Pretty Girl #2Antique Bismarck Beer Neumeister Tin Litho Tray Stein Graphic Vintage Bar SignPre Pro Beer Tray Champion Brewery Detroit, Michigan Antique Narragansett Lager Ale Tin Litho Beer Tray Vintage Sign Craston Ri OldAntique 1933 Tam O' Shanter Lager Beer Tin Litho Tray Tammy Brewery Rochester NyCirca 1930s Bruck’s Beer Tray, Cincinnati, Ohio1930's Vintage Wehle Ale / Beer Tray, Wehle Brewing Co. West Haven, Conn Ruff's Beer Tray I(word) Mound Park - Quincy Near The Ruff Brewing Co. Pacific Beer TrayVtg Duquesne Pilsener The Finest Beer In Town Beer Tray No ReserveAntique Blatz Beer Tin Litho Tray Milwaukee Wi Vintage Bar Sign Old Brewery AdvVintage ~ Beer Tray ~ Copper ~ George J Meyer ~ Buffalo Ny ~ Free ShippingTough 13" Pie Style Koch's Beer Tin Serving Tray Fred Koch Brewing Dunkirk NySeitz Beer Tray Easton PaAntique Narragansett Banquet Ale Tin Litho Beer Tray Vintage Sign Craston Ri OldEarly 30's Beer Tray-esslinger's Premium Beer-esslinger Brew. Co.-philadelphiapaPre-pro Philadelphia Drivers Union Capt. Konig Deutschland Beer Tray WwiBethlehem Liquor Tray Vintage Pabst Beer Serving Tray Hampden Brewing Handsome Waiter Beer Serving Tray Willimansett Ma 1930s -nice-Joliet Illinois Pre Pro E. Porter Brewing Brewery Serving Tray Dutch Boy HeineAntique Pre Prohibition Portsmouth Lager Beer Tin Litho Tray Sign New HampshireAntique Hulls Export Beer Tin Litho Tray Stein Graphic Vintage New Haven Ct OldRare 1930s-50s Supreme Beer 13 Inch Serving Tray Bethlehem Pennsylvania1940s San Francisco California Burgermeister Pale Beer Brewing Serving Tray Irtp1970s West End Brewery Of Utica Tin Litho Advertising Beer Tray ReissueRare Neuweiler's Beer 13 Inch Tray In Excellent Condition, ,Vintage Beer Tray Old Dutch Premium Beer Eagle Brewing Catasauqua Pa's Best Antique Hampden Mild Ale Tin Litho Beer Tray Willimansett Ma Vintage Brewing OldVintage Anheuser-busch Beer Tray Busch's Nude Risque Portrait Tin Plate Tray