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    

Rare Vintage Leidiger Brewery Pre Prohibition Beer Tip Tray, Merrill WisconsinHornell Brewing Beer Tray Vintage Rare Rare Brunkow & Mueller Brewery Pre Pro Tip Tray, Pheasant Branch WisconsinThe Gulf Ales Beer Tray Vintage Rare Breweriana Utica, N.y.Kuntz’s Olde Dutch Lager And Old Tavern Ale Serving Tray – CanadaRare Vintage Jax Beer Metal Tray Advertising General Jackson Brewing Co.Kuntz Beverages Prohibition Era Serving Tray – Waterloo, CanadaVintage Esslinger's Beer Of Philadelphia Metal TrayChief Oshkosh Tray, Very Clean Dixie 45 Beer Tray....nice !Esslinger's Ale Beer Tray Philadelphia, PaAdler Brau Beer Tray, Geo. Walter Brewing Co., Appleton, WisconsinDawes Brewery Black Horse Ale & Porter Aluminum Beer Tray Advertising QuebecBeer Tray From The Iroquois Brewing Co. Of Buffalo, NyVintage Metal Iron City Premium Beer Tray Pittsburgh Brewing Co. Pittsburgh Pa Pearl Brewery Beer Tray - One Of A Kind 18 X 12 - 1952Lot Of 3 Duquesne Beer Trays Pittsburgh, PaSchwartzenbrau Kdk Cream Ale Beer Tray Vintage Rare Hornell N.y.Goebel Brewing Co. Ltd - Tip Tray - Detroit Mi - Bavarian ManGettelman Milwaukee Beer Serving Tray~gettelman Brewing Co. Milwaukee, WisAurora Lager Advertising Serving Tray Aurora Brewing Co- 1915 American Art WorksLot Of 2 Hampden Beer Trays Willimansett, MaSchwartzenbrau Kdk Cream Ale Beer Tray Vintage Hornell N.y. Old RangerMetal Budweiser 1999 Frog / Lizard Sign And Tray 1996 Anheuser Busch CollectibleOriginal 1950s Pearl Lager Beer Tray San Antonio Texas Nice Cond 2 Nail HolesSimon Pale Ale Beer Tray Excellent Cond.Antique Advertising Beer Tip Tray,"drink Drummers' Choice" Cape Girardeau, Mo.Meister Brau Beer Serving TraySchmidt Beer Serving Tray White LipKnickerbocker Beer Tray Round Metal. New York's FamousVintage Iroquois Indian Head Beer & Ale Metal Tray Buffalo Ny.used Vintage Grain Belt Beer TrayVintage Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer Serving Metal Tray Tin Plate Lot Of 3 Beer Serving Trays - Olympia, Schlitz & Rolling RockVintage Heileman's Brewing Co. Old Style Lager Beer 13" Round Metal Serving TrayVintage 1930's Blatz Old Heidelberg Beer Serving Tray Metal LithoSchmidt Beer The Brew That Grew Red Lip Beer Serving TrayVintage Blatz Beer Serving Tray Metal Advertising Milwaukee's Finest BeerF.d. Radeke Brewing Co Pre-prohibition Beer TrayVintage Hussong's Cantina 80th Anniversary Tray ~ Beer Tray ~ 1892- 1972Vintage & Rare? Hinano, La Bière De Tahiti Metal Serving Tray, 12 In Dia., NiceHamm's Beer Bags & Tray LinersVintage Gold Bond Beer TrayEarly Christian Feigenspan Brewing Co Advertising Beer Tray W Woman PortraitPabst Blue Ribbon Vintage Serving Tray Bartender With Beers 1960s? 1970s?Lone Star Beer Plastic TrayVintage 13'' Lot Of 5 Beer Trays - Ballantine - Schaefer - Rheingold Corona Cerveza (venga La #1 La Del Sabor Ganador) Vtg. Beer Tray [san Juan, Pr] Vintage Genesee Beer 12" Metal Serving TrayYuengling Beer Metal Tin Tray Pottsville PaVintage Metal Utica Club Cream Ale Beer Bar Tray West End Brewing Company NyVintage Heileman's Old Style Lager Beer Serving Tray Breweriana Lacrosse Wi.!2 Souvenir Glass Trays - J.s. Giacobello Beer & Soda / Motel 22 Mount Union Pa.Vintage Schlitz Beer Brown Rim Metal Two Sided Serving Tray~thank You.Old Milwaukee Beer Tray 1962Vintage Metal Bar Tip Tray Advertising Miller High Life Beer C. 1952Vintage Stoney's Beer Serving Advertising Tray Jones Brewing CompanyVintage Metal Bar Tip Tray Advertising Miller High Life 1952 Printed On Tray.Heileman's Old Style Beer TrayVintage Utica Club Is Where It Really Swings Beer Serving Tray