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    

The Standard Brewery Chicago, Ill. Utah Brau Beer TrayVintage Dick's Beer Quincy Illinois Brewery Brewing Tin Litho Serving Tray 13"Vintage Dick's Beer Quincy Illinois Brewery Brewing Tin Litho Serving Tray 12"Vintage Dick's Beer Quincy Illinois Brewery Brewing Tin Litho Serving Tray 13"Fantastic Beer Tray Molson's Brewery Tin Sign The Thos Davidson Quebe Canada Rare Vintage Sheboygan Mineral Waters Ginger Ale Tray "cheif Of Them All"Vintage Hudepohl Beer Cincinnati Ohio Brewery Brewing Tin Litho Serving Tray 15"Vintage Erlanger Pony Deluxe Beer Brewery Brewing Tin Litho Serving Tray 12"1913 American Brewing Co. Pre-pro Beer Tray With Beautiful WomanVintage Frank Fehr's Beer Louisville Brewery Brewing Tin Litho Serving Tray 15"Vintage F & S Furmann & Schmidt Beer Brewery Brewing Tin Litho Serving Tray 12"Vintage Centennial Beer Tray TinVintage 1930's A. Gettelman Milwaukee Wisconsin 13" Metal Beer Tray SignMarshfield Brewing Co, Wisconsin Beer Serving Tray, Advertising, 1940's? Scarce13 Inch Prepro Frank Jones Ales Beer Tray New Hampshire Brewery Vintage OriginalGlennon's Beer Serving Tray Pittston, Pa, Wilkes-barre, Pa Scranton, PaPeter Hauck Beer Tray - Pre-prohibition Pretty Lady!Blatz Old Heidelberg Rectangular Tray 1930sRare Vintage 1930s Girl Harvard Breweriana Beer Ale TrayKoehler's Beer Ale Tray Erie Pa 1940'sKaier's Beer Tray - Red Rectangular - 1930s Mahanoy City, Pa Vtg Minneapolis Grain Belt Beer 4 1/4" Metal Tip Tray-excellent-Star Brewing Co Beer Tray Boston Mass. & Narragansett Beer Coaster Rhode Island Vintage Du Bois Budweiser Beer Tray NrVtg 13" Dia 1959 Milwaukee's Finest Blatz Beer Metal Tray B9-273 Barrel Men1940's Pickwick Ale Beer Round Advertising Tray Boston, MaRare Vintage Hamm's Beer Metal Tray Depicting Man And Bear - 13 Inches DiameterMathie Ruder Red Ribbon Beer Tray Adel Brau Schoens Wausau Wi Brewery North StarMexican Mexico Carta Blanca Beer Tray With Tere Velazquez Vintage 19603 Pretty Ladies On 3 Ugly Beer Trays - Prepro Edelweiss, Ortlieb's, Moctezuma Mexican Mexico Cruz Blanca Beer Tray With Bottle And Dominoes Vintage C.1950Quandt's Brewery Serving TrayEarly Hanleys Peerless Ale Beer-tray-11.5"prov Ri Baltimore Enamel Novelty CoMetal Guinness Sign And Vintage Tray - Gives You Strength, Is Good For You Old Crown Beer Aluminum Tray Sign - Centlivre - Fort Wayne, Indiana Cruz Blanca Mexican Beer Tray - 1940s Bull Fight!Schlitz Beer Serving Tray Sign Tin Metal Schlitzerland Brewery Bar Pub TavernVtg 1930's Esslinger Post Prohibition Repeal Beer Tray Super Clean PhiladelphiaAntique 1905 Pre-prohibition Enterprise Yosemite Lager Brew Metal Beer Tole TrayVintage Parker-brawner Co. ~ Serve Polar Giner Ale ~ Serving Tray Vintage ~ Hampden Brewing Co. ~ Serving Tray Willimansett, Mass.Vintage Beer Cans (lot Of 33) Plus Bonus Falstaff Serving Tray Vintage Tally-ho Beer Ale Porter Metal Serving TrayKoehler's Beer Tray 3 Tenners-lager, Pilsener & Jackson's Erie Pa Canco Mint!!Jack Daniels Tray, Glass( Signed), Bottle Cap OpenerVintage 1960's Krueger Pilsner Beer TrayPabst Blue Ribbon Beer Tray 13" Round P-923Vintage Fort Pitt Special Beer TrayTry - Blue Beer Tray Seven Round Vintage Beer Trays Good CondIron City Beer 2 Differentvintage Trays Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaF & S Beer 1950's Red And Gold Metal Serving Tray Shamokin, PennsylvaniaCigar Label Beer Tray Handmade Old Vintage! NrBeer Signs Collection 4 Signs One TrayNacional Hecho A Mano Tequila Metal Serving Tray Man Cave Bar CollectiblePabst Blue Ribbon Vintage 13" Metal Beer Tray Man Cave Bar Advertising TinVtg Rare 1930's Cream City Beer Tray Milwaukee WiRheingold Beer Advertisement Tin Serving Tray & Schaefer Tin TrayDon Julio Garnish Tray For BarHolsten- Hamburg The Noble German Beer Tray