Hamm's Scene-o-Rama: Beer Sign Bliss

March 10th, 2011

The Hamm’s Scene-o-Rama was a sign ahead of its time. Made by Lakeside Plastics in Minneapolis in the late 1960s through early 1970s, it features an outdoor scene with a waterfall and river that appear to flow, as well as a smoking campfire. The motion effect comes from an outer, semi-transparent scroll and an inner, vertically lined background that gives the water (and campfire smoke) the illusion of flowing.

“Many urban legends surround the Scene-o-Rama.”

There are two sizes, small (which is about 3-feet across) and large (5-feet across). The large came in two versions, one with a static, non-moving scene and one with the rotating scroll. The signs all have dimensional, dark brown roof shingles above the scene. I’ve seen people assume all larger signs have motion, so always double-check by unscrewing the casing and inspect the inner workings before you buy one. There are other variations, such as a “round logo” Scene-o-Rama, which has the words Hamm’s beer in a round, white logo panel. This version is harder to find than the typical square logo version.

Many urban legends surround the Scene-o-Rama, like a disgruntled artist hiding a profanity somewhere in the artwork of the Northwoods scroll because he got stiffed on payment. Or, these signs are worth thousands of dollars and are incredibly rare. It may be that I’m in Minnesota, and am constantly seeking old beer stuff, but these signs aren’t rare. Desirable, yes. Rare, no.

Buying: Unless these signs were boxed up or displayed in a non-bar environment their entire life, they probably sustained some sort of wear or age during their decades of service. Check the underside of the case: Too many people underestimate the weight of a Scene-o-Rama, and the case can crack easily when picked up. Check the roof panels for cracking or corner breakage. How can you tell if its been in a smoky bar? The white side panels will be yellowed as well as the Hamm’s logo panel. Some Armor All will whiten them up. The case removes easily—take the screws out and inspect the guts of your sign. You can clean the logo panel from the front using Q-tips to get between the black lattice. Inspect the scene carefully. Horizontal scratches are commonplace because Lakeside Plastic used screws to hold the clear acrylic cover over the scene—grrr! If possible, buy your sign in person. Internet auctions will generally disappoint, whether it’s through definition (“Mint!”) or delivery (“I thought I packed it well … sorry!”).

Selling: You may be tempted by the bucks these get online, but there’s a 50/50 chance that the delivery service will damage, if not destroy, your sign.The insurance claim process is as fun as a root canal. Many of these signs have survived 40 years intact, only to be trashed in transit. Don’t say you weren’t warned …

Replacement parts are available for these signs, and there’s no better feeling than rescuing and restoring an old Hamm’s sign back to its original glory. The motion is truly mesmerizing, and brings back memories of sitting with my dad at our local hamburger joint as a kid. From the land of sky blue waters, I’m Barry the beerguy.

(Breweriana collector Barry Travis runs IBuyOldBeer.com: Preserving the Beers of Yesteryear. You can find him on Show & Tell, too.)

132 comments so far

  1. Eric Limbaugh Says:

    I finally got my Grandfather’s 5′ Hamm’s scene-o-rama…The scrolls weren’t turning inside… ..So I got inside of this Jewell and the roller bearings were seized up so I took them off the roller pins and oiled em and worked em until they both were free spinning…Put it all back together and this sign is mint condition.

  2. Tom Courneya Says:

    Hello Barry,
    I have asked Stevan Miner about script on my ’65 Rippler. I have located some sort of writing on the RH panel towards the top of the water line about 1/4″ below the forest. I haven’t taken it apart to inspect it; however, there IS something clearly written on the print itself. It’s not on the scroll as it doesn’t move. The lettering is about 3″ to 4″ long. I can make out the letters “..and……”! There IS something there.
    Have you seen this before?

    Thanks, Tom

  3. Tom Says:

    Were there units with all brown wood look side panels ?

  4. Mike Russow Says:

    I shipped a hamms sign o Rama and as I read to late it got damaged in family for 50 years was brand new roof broken and plastic under scroll are there parts or should I part it out heart broken sign lover

  5. Heather Says:

    I am the owner of a Hamms scene-o-rama that belonged to my mother. It is still in working condition however the Hamm’s name is not there anymore. Is this replaceable? If not, is it still valuable?

  6. John Hester Says:

    Hi Barry,

    Is the replacement SCROLL a ONE SIZE only and does this “FIT” either of the Scene O Ramas(Large & small)? I have the small 36″(I believe) wondered if the SAME scroll can be used in either models of the Scene O Ramas? I ask this because I’ve noticed the viewing window(or frame around where the scroll operates)of the large Scene O Rama appears wider showing more “scenery” OR more of the scene is visible (than the small ) at any one time? So is the Scroll made in TWO different lengths then?If that makes sense? I can’t figure out how they can be the same length unless the small Scene O Rama’s frame “crops” the sides more than the large one does? Or the rollers on the Large are skinnier/ smaller diameter than the Small? You thoughts on this would be sincerely appreciated here.Thank you for your time


  7. Dr. Hamm's Says:

    Hi John,
    There are two different sizes of Scene-O-Rama’s and they take different scrolls. The larger version has got about 9 inches more of birch tress. What Lakeside di was just splice this piece in resulting in two seams on the large scroll as opposed to just one on the small one. When I made my reproduction screens I eliminated the one seam in the large version.
    Dr. Hamm’s

  8. Rick Scruggs Says:

    I have a new in box Starry Skies sign; smaller size. My question is, the name of the lake where the picture was taken..? I read it some years ago, but haven’t been able to find it again.

    Thank you in advance!


  9. Barry Says:

    The background metal plate is a stylized illustration done by an artist,not a photo. So it probably exists only in the artists mind. The scene on the Scenorama (above) is also an illustration, not a photo of a real lake.

  10. Jeff Says:

    Are African American Hamm’s beer sign rare or low production numbers..Is it a myth that Hamm’s beer had alot of controversy on these signs? Thank you in advance for your time….

  11. Barry Says:

    They were made for smaller (regional) markets,like Baltimore or Los Angeles and distributed to bars or stores serving ethnic markets/customers. So they were made in smaller quantities.

  12. Mark Tromanhauser Says:

    Hey Dr.Harm’s, I have one of the scene-arama 36″ size and want to replace the scroll, but won’t the screws scratch the new scroll too? I light mine up a lot and have replaced bulbs and capacitors. Also, does the new scroll just tape together on the tree seam, or does the scroll come continuous? Thank you

  13. Dr. Hamm's Says:

    Hi Mark,
    The screws that usually scratch the scroll are the ones on the sides of the Plexi-Glass. When I restore one of these signs, I just cut the Plexi larger and then just use the upper and lower three screws to attach it to the case eliminating the side screws and also the metal bars that hold the original glass in. When I then put the cover on, I lift it slightly tightening the screws midway in their slots to give even more clearance between the glass and the scroll. The new scrolls that I sell are already assembled and ready for installation. Stay away from the products that are being sold by Conscept Graphics. They are junk.
    Dr. Hamm’s

  14. Joe loll Says:

    Dr. Hamms. I have the 36” scenearama that appears very well and operates nicely with the exception of the blue plastic behind the square Hamms logo is degrading. Is this available?

  15. Dr. Hamm's Says:

    Hi Joe,
    Yes I have this piece for sale. Go to our website http://www.ibuyoldbeer.com for a complete list of parts for this and other Hamm’s Beer signs.

  16. Dave From New Hope, MN Says:

    Hello Dr. Hamm’s I have a question on cleaning…
    I have a big Starry Night sign that I am restoring, I’m trying to clean the brown plastic on
    it. I tried using a little dish soap and water on it which did get some of the gunk off, but, it dried with a chalky like film on it that can’t be removed. Is the plastic so old that it is blooming out, is there some way to treat the brown plastic to restore it?

  17. larry hogan Says:

    Hi Dr I have a large sceanorama sign with clock but the clock motor is going bad are they available ?

  18. Thomas D. Chudzinski Says:

    I have the large sceanorama sign and need a new clock motor,and maybe some replacement bulbs .

  19. Jim Gangnon Says:

    Hi Barry,

    I have the same sign o Rama that’s in your article and the picture scroll has separated at the seem. Can you suggest the best way to repair the seem? Tape, glue? Your guidance is very much appreciated!


  20. Courtney Langdon-Codd Says:

    I have some Hamms beer lighted signs but can’t find them anywhere on the Internet to see what they might be worth. Any ideas of who to contact for appraisal?

  21. steve Says:

    Hamm’s Scene-o-Rama: Beer Sign Bliss i was told that the last 50 signs make the person scribe the words Fu-K this job in the rapids , i look close at my sign and you can see parts of the words it looks like it was touch up a little did anyone else hear or see this

  22. Mark Says:

    The drive motor that turns the scroll in my hamms -O-Rama sight has quit working , are these available

  23. kelly Says:

    I have a few 65 rippler signs…most are missing the plastic border as it breaks easily…is anyone making these? I have thought of making them out wood..but it isn’t in my skill set…..

  24. Robert Head Says:

    I have a Hamm’s Starry Nights Motion Sign, the rail Porch Fence is damaged. Do you happen to know where I might find a replacement?

  25. Kevin Mayer Says:

    I have a Lakeside Plastics number of 3359138 on the back of my Scene-O-Rama and was wondering if this is a date code or serial number. If it’s a date code, when was it manufactured? Thanks.

  26. William Johnston Says:

    I had a 36″ Hamms Scene O Rama that was recently destroyed. How do I get a value for an insurance claim? Thanks!

  27. wayne toellner Says:

    looking for blue background behind the since 1865 in blue, Hamm’s in red, beer in blue.
    Has the name Toms in red Script. can I get the original one with the land of sky blue water?
    Also looking for a new panoramic scene. if yyou send me a email I can send you a picture of
    the sign.

  28. Sue wilmesher Says:

    How much is a 5ft Hamm Scene O Rams Beer Sign mint condition worth

  29. Tom Q Says:

    I have a Hamm’s TV rippler sign. All of the mechanics are in working order and all pieces are there, but when turned on, there is no ripple effect. Is it possible that the replacement insert isn’t printed correctly, or do you know what the cause might be? Thanks

  30. T J Vosberg Says:

    I have Hamm’s Beer Scene O Rama Motion Sign that is missing the Hamms Beer center lense. Any suggestions as to where I could find one?

  31. Mary Ann Battermann Says:

    My Hamms Scene-a-Rama has horizontal lines across the front…is it on the rotating picture or the glass front? Just started and it’s been running since the late fifties…..had the motor replaced once by a guy in Minnesota.

  32. Dave Miles Says:

    Hello, I am looking to restore a vintage Hamms scene o rama beer sign and I’m needing the motor that turns the rollers for the scene. It’s a 1.2rpm motor. Thank you

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