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]

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]

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]

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    

Antique 1908 Weber Brewing Co Waukesha Wi Advertising Beer Serving Tray VintageVintage Advertising Tin Beer Tray~croft Pilgrim Ale 30's 40's?~boston Mass1933 Anheuser Busch Budweiser Beer Tin Litho Advertising Serving TrayLate 19th Century Kaier's Brewery Whisky Mahanoy City Pa Tip Tray*old* Schoenling Cincinnati Beer Metal Serving Tray1930's Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer Tin Litho Advertising Serving Beer TrayJax Beer-'58-'59 Metal Tip Tray, 6 1/2"w X 4 1/2"t,"drink Jax Best Beer In Town"Mixed Lot Of 4 Antique Beer Trays Schlitz, Frank Jones Ale, Old Dial Rye, Poker Rare Hinckel Brewery Co Stag Deer Beer Tray Albany NyF&s Beer Furmann Schmidt Shamokin Pa Beer TrayJax Beer-1950's Plastic Tip Tray-only*jax* Tray Made Of Plastic - Very Scarce !!Rochester Made Means Quality Beer Tray, Rochester, New YorkElgin Eagle Erlanger Tray Pope Royal Beer Church Antique ServingBeer Trays,jax And Regal.Brucks Beer & Ale Tray Cincinnati OhioVintage Old Topper Ale-beer Rochester Brewing Co Ny Advertising Serving Tray OldJax Beer-1950's Metal Tip Tray, Item #503, 6 1/2"w X 4 1/2"t, "drink Jax Beer"Vintage Hamm's Metal Beer Tray, Grizzly Adams Bear, Land Of Sky Blue WatersVintage 1960's Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer 13" Metal Tray **nice**Vintage New Orleans, La. "dixie 45 Beer Tray" - Red And BlackVintage Hanley's Extra Pale Ale Embossed Metal Beer Tray With Bulldog HanleyBeautiful Miller High Life Beer Tray, Milwaukee, WiVintage Corona Extra & Victoria Beer Tin Tray 40s Made In Mexico Rare ! Genesee 12 Horse Ale 13" Pie Rim Beer Tray Genesee Brewing Co Rochester Ny Corona Extra, Bird On The Beach Scene, Tin Beer Advertising Serving Tray, NrmtVintage Blatz Beer Tray 1964Vintage Schmidt's Beer~ale Round Metal Bar Room Serving Tray~tiger Head Phil,paWiedemann Bohemian Special Brew Beer Tray (newport Ky.)Beautiful Mexican Indian Girl Pinup Tin Tray Xx Sol Superior Cerveza MoctezumaUtica Club Brewery Tip TrayVintage Genesee Ale/beer Tray "real Old-fashion Goodness" From The 1940'sWest End Brewing Co. Beer Tray Utica, N.y. Wallis And Manners MansfieldCorona Extra Victoria Tin Beer Advertising Serving Tray, Senorita In Sombrero!Vintage Grand Prize Pale Dry 13 Inch Beer TrayVintage Utica Club Pilsner Cream Ale Beer Tray In Good ShapeNational Bohemian Chalkboard And Tray, National Premium Bar Light And MirrorVintage Koch's Beer Tray- Marked Dunkirk, Ny Drink Beer 13 In. Fred Koch BreweryVintage Retro Hamms Beer Tray 60's Early 70's Canoe Lake Land Of Sky Blue WatersVintage Gretz Beer Tray William Gretz Brewing Company, Philadelphia PennsylvaniaJax Beer Tray Louisiana New Orleans 1971 Fitzgeralds Beer Tray Troy, N.y.Vintage Fox Deluxe Beer Serving Tray Chicago IllBeer Trays Lot Of 61950s Schlitz Beer Metal Advertising Tray "real Gusto In A Great Light Beer" RedBudweiser "king Of Beers" Autumn Clydesdales 1998 Metal Tray Limited EditionLot Of 10 Vintage Beer Serving Trays - Schaefer Knickerbocker Ballantine ++++Harvard Brewery Lowell Ma 13.5" Beer Tray Vintage "has What It Takes" Mint !! New!!! Miller Lite Beer Tray Metal Beer Sign! Nr!Scheidt's Ramshead Valley Forge Beer, Norristown, Pa Round Metal Tray 11-1/2"Vintage San Miguel Beer Tray - Philippines - EucVintage Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer Tray Blue PlasticChristian Feigenspan Brewing Co. Beer Tray Angelo Asti Design Opener Removal Ejector Pin Key Tool For Iphone 5 4s 4g 3gs Ipad 10 Sim Card TrayEject Ejector Pin Key Tool Opener Remover For Iphone Micro Sim Card Tray Metal