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]

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]

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]

British Beer Labels

British Beer Labels

This pre-1965 collection is organized alphabetically by brand and contains scans of seemingly thousands of beautif… [read review or visit site]

Plan 59

Plan 59

From the Nostlagia Factory in Virginia comes this celebration of 'mid-century automotive advertising illustrations'… [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]

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]

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]

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    

Pre-prohibition Under Lock Rye Whiskey 17.5" Display Tray Wm Albrecht Boston MaVintage Jaeger Brau Beer Tray-ruff Brewing Co -quincy,il-hunting Cabin SceneE.robinsons Sons-pre-prohibition-beer Tray-12" Factory Scene-pilsener-exc +Rare! Antique Stegmaier Beer Brewery Co. Tin Tip Tray Wilkes-barre PaVintage Gretz Beer Tray-13.5"- N-mint-philadelphia-kraeusen-steinie Qrts & PintsTerre Haute Brewing Co-velvet Beer Oval Tray-15"-ever Welcome Beer-cherubsRare! Antique Stroh's Malt Extract Tin Tip Tray Detroit MichiganRare Narragansett 12" Porcelain Enamel White Beer Tray-stock Lager-banquet AlePre-prohibition-olympia Girl-beer Tray -12" Pilsen Brewing Co Chicago,il-exc +Stegmaier Brewery Beer Factory Tip Tray 6"-wilkes Barre,penn-railroad Horses-etcVintage Krueger's Beer & Ales Beer Tray Newark New Jersey Original 12 3/4 InchVintage Beer Tray-old Timers Lager Beer-west Bend,wisconsinRare! Antique Tivoli Brewing Co. Tin Tip Tray Detroit Michigan BeerVintage New Life Tonic Beer Oval Tray16" Beer Lady-united States Brewing-chicagoPre-prohibition Anheuser-busch Brewing Co Beer Oval Factory Tray-19"-st Louis,moPre-prohibition Koppitz-melchers Pale Select Beer Tip Tray -detroit, MichiganRare 1930s Koehler's Beer Ale--porter Tray, Erie Pa, Erie Brewing Co, Nice!Vintage And Rare 1930's Diamond State Brewery Man And Dog Beer Tray Vintage H.l.griesedieck Distilling Co St Louis ,mo Oval Beer Tray-16"-woodgrainEbling's Extra Beer Tray From 19341930's Dr Seuss Narragansett Lager Beer Tray Chief Gansett "gang Way" Cranston(b) Vintage Dickens Ale 12" Metal - Tin Litho Beer Tray Genesee Brg Rochester NyOld Pre Prohibition Home Beer,dallas Brewery Tip Tray,pictures Bottle...texasVintage Pacific Brewing& Malting Co Beer Tray-12"-best East To West-tacoma,waLeisy's The Beer That Satisfies / The Connoisseur Tray -0003Leisy Brewing Co Finest Beer Brewery - Bottled Strictly Pure Tray -0004Vintage Krueger's Beer & Ales Beer Tray Keugers Its The Taste 12 InchCira 1910 E. Robinson’s & Sons Tip Tray, Scranton, Pa The Hubert Fischer Brewery, Hartford, Ct. Pre-prohibition Beer TrayLucky Lager Map Beer Tray & Rare Pair Of Lucky Lager Fine Beer Steins Vintage Iroquois Beer Serving TrayVintage Hudepohl Fine Beers Woodgrain Tray 15"-cincinnati, Oh-exc1911 American Art Works Coshocton, Ohio Marguerite Beer Tray1904 Anheuser Busch Budweiser Bull's Eye Tray Burkhardt's Select Bottled Beer Tray / Purity / Akron Ohio Brewery -0006Drink Davenport Malting Co's Unexcelled Bottle Beer C1911 Tip TrayVintage Hull's Beer Serving TrayVintage Krueger K Man Beer Serving TrayBurkhardt's Select Export Beer Tray / M. Burkhardt Brewing Co. Akron Oh -0002Blatz Milwaukee's First Bottled Beer Vintage Metal Beer TrayHamm's Vintage Metal Beer TrayLone Star Vintage Metal Beer TrayDaeufers Daeufer Lieberman Peerless Beer Allentown Pa Brewery Serving Tray SignVintage Corona Extra Victoria Beer Serving Tray Metal Made Mexico Girl CervezaVintage Simon Pure Beer-ale Tray-12"-william Simon Brewery,buffalo,nyPre Prohibition Malt Tonic Rainier Beer Tray Plaque Seattle 10 Inches American Brewing Co Pekin Illinois Old Pure Culture Lager Beer Tray Ill BreweryHull's Cream Ale Light Beer Tray-very Colorful!Lagunitas Beer TrayWhite Rock Bottled Beer Tray / The Akron Brewing Co -0005Tivoli "a Special Lager" Aug. Lang & Co. S.f. Featuring Lady In Pink Tip TrayVintage Dixie 45 Beer Serving TrayScarce Mint 1971 Hamm's Beer Grizzly Bear 13 Inch Serving Tray Tavern Trove Vintage Stoneys Beer Serving TrayAwesome Vintage Millers High Life Beer Tray - Must See !!!Vintage Koehler Beer Tray - The Erie Brewing Company - Erie PennsylvaniaAntique Vintage Gypsy Girl Woman Lady Oval Beer TrayUnusual Black And White Scotch Whisky Sweet/nut Tray Unused1945 Jos.schlitz Brewing Co,the Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous Bar Serving TrayCarlton Draught Beer New Drink Carry Tray For The Home Bar Collector Or Man Cave