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]

Plan 59

Plan 59

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

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    

Nice Vintage Potosi Pure Malt Beer 13" Metal Serving Tray Potosi WisconsinPre Pro Potosi Wisconsin Brewing Co Tin Beer TrayVintage Tin Litho Serving Tray Dr Seuss Narragansett Beer AdvertisingKnapstein's Select Beer Tray, New London, WisconsinRare Early Fuhrmann & Schmidt Brewing Company Shamokin, Pa Beer Tray H.d. BeachStag Beer Tip Tray Western Brewing Co, Belleville Ill, St Louis MoOld England Ale & Lager Beer Tray Rare & Hard To Find Good ConditionRare Valley Brew "join Me" Stockton Beer Tray 1940's D.g. Yuengling & Son Fine Beer Ale Porter Serving Tray Erlanger Pony Deluxe Beer TrayStroh's Bohemian Beer TrayVintage Porcelain Molson's Ale Beer TrayVintage Oldburger Beer Tray , 12"Vintage Burke's Beer TrayVintage Kuntz's Beer Tray Olde Dutch Lager Olde Tavern Ale Waterloo Ont CanadaHochgreve Beer Tray1930's Genesee 12 Horse Ale 13" Tray Genesee Brewing Co. Rochester, New YorkRuppert's Beer Tray With Hans Flato ArtEbling's Extra Beer TraySchaefer Fine Beer. Beer TrayOld Pabst Breweries Beer Tray Pbr SignVintage Peoples Brewing Co/peoples Beer Tray! Oshkosh, Wi 12" SignVintage Erlanger's Pilsner Beer Tray Philadelphia Pennsylvania Otto ErlangerVintage Original 1940s Miller Beer Oval Tray With The Girl On The MoonFrank's Old Fashioned Beer, M.frank & Son Brewery, Mansfield, Ohio Beer TraySterling Beer Tray, Sterling Brewery Co., Evansville, IndianaVintage Hensler Whale Beer TrayFox Head "400" Beer TrayVintage Loewers Beer Ale Tray Rare Gambrinus Brewery New YorkHulls Brewing Co. Ale And Lager Woodgrain Tray Just About Perfect 1930'sVintage 1930's Lang's Beer 13" Metal Tray Gerhard Lang Brewery Buffalo NyHolihan's Ale Beer TrayVtg 1940's? Drink Sterling Beer Ale Advertising Tray None Better Evansville, In.Vintage Polo Erlanger Pony De Luxe Beer Tray Scores Every Time Otto ErlangerScarce Mint 1971 Hamm's Beer Grizzly Bear 13 Inch Serving Tray Tavern Trove Lone Star Beer Metal Serving TrayVintage Stoney's 13 Inch Beer Serving Tray. Jones Brewing Co, Smithton, PaMiller High Life The Champagne Of Bottle Beer Tray Bright And Vintage ColorfulVintage Bass Brewery Metawaiter's Tray/silver Jubilee 1935/george V & Queen Mary1930's Jacob Ruppert Beer Tray Sign Knickerbocker Tin New York Ny Yankees Bar Vintage Metal Lone Star Big Country Premium Artesian Beer Tray 13.25in Dia RoundOld Dutch Eagle Brewing Beer TrayLone Star Beer - Metal Tray - 13" AcrossFort Schyyler Ales & Larger, Utica Brewing Co. Utica, N.y. Tip TrayNice Vintage Golden Grain Belt Beer Double Sided 13" Serving TrayVintage R & H Beer Tray Sign Rubsam Horrmann Brewing Staten Island New York TinNarragansett Beer Tray1940's Hanley's Peerless Ale 12" Tray James Hanley Co. Providence Rhode IslandSamuel Adams White Ale Beer TrayHamm"s Preferred Beer 13" Serving TrayScarce Mint 1971 Hamm's Beer Grizzly Bear 13 Inch Serving Tray Tavern Trove Molson's Ale Beer Tray Made In England Plate Silver Breweriana Nice!1981 Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer TrayGretz Beer Tray Philadelphia PaDeer Park Brewing Nys Beer Tray No 4Vintage 1971 Jos Schlitz Brewing Co Beer Tin Metal Tray Milwaukee Wisc BarVintage Beer Advertising-miller High Life Metal Tin Tip Tray-ducks~wildlifeBudweiser Beer Tray Miller High Life Beer Tin Serving Tray Vintage Double Sided Mhl Brewing Co.Vintage Genesee 12" Round Beer Serving Tray- Excellent Condition