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American Breweriana Journal November/December 2010

 

Early Tap Marker Signs

 

By Rich Wagner

 

When prohibition was repealed in 1933 there was much discussion among lawmakers about how not to repeat the “sins of the past.” Many of the laws that seem absurd to us today were designed to do exactly that. One such regulation required bars to clearly mark each tap with the beer being poured to protect the consumer from fraud. I’m not exactly sure how that regulation would prevent an unscrupulous publican from scamming his customers by displaying the wrong brand, but it created a new advertising item that would be collected for years to come. The evolution of the tap handle or tap marker continues to this day and the trend seems to be “bigger is better.” Bartenders pull on everything from football helmets and hockey sticks to goose necks and canoes to draw customers a beer and there is no end in sight to the innovations being placed on the market as brewers do what they can to make sure their product gets noticed at the tap tower.

 

Most of us are familiar with ball knobs and the patented Kooler Keg tap knobs since they were the styles that came to dominate the marketplace in the 1930s through the 1950s but there were other kinds as well. George Bailey refers to these as tap marker signs in his book Vintage Beer Tap Markers which he describes as fairly rare.

 

Rich Strisofsky has been collecting breweriana since the 1970s and in that time has discovered a great number of these tap marker signs. Not only that, but he came across some advertising material from L.F. Grammes & Sons, Inc., a company from Allentown that specialized in signs and emblems for a wide variety of products including beer. They also manufactured ball knobs and it’s interesting to note that the same type of disk they used to display beer brands was used for everything from cars to refrigerators.

 

Rich is from the Lehigh Valley and knows people with family members who worked at Grammes. Several years ago he was displaying breweriana as part of Catasauqua’s bicentennial celebration and a retired engineer from the company recognized a few items that were made in Allentown. He actually held some patents and described the gamut of products that Grammes manufactured. He said there were display cases in the lobby featuring literally hundreds of signs and labels they had manufactured since 1875.

 

It’s pretty easy to see why the ball knob caught on as the most popular style, but the “tap marker signs” in Rich’s collection are examples of what one company manufactured in the early days after repeal.

 

Note: Rich Wagner recently installed an exhibit on Lehigh Valley Breweries at the National Brewery Museum in Potosi that features breweriana from his own as well as the collections of Rich Strisofsky (ABA 696) and Daryl Ziegler (ABA 9499).

 

Photo Captions

 

00

Rich Strisofsky (ABA 696) with a display of his tap marker signs.

 

PA Tap Marker Signs

01

Bartels Edwardsville, PA

02

John F. Betz & Son, Inc. Philadelphia, PA

03

Eagle Brewing Co. Catasauqua, PA

04

Class & Nachod Brewing Co. Philadelphia, PA

05

Daeufer-Lieberman Brewing Co. Allentown, PA

06

Duquesne Brewing Co. Pittsburgh, PA

07

Otto Erlanger Brewing Co. Philadelphia, PA

08

Fort Pitt Brewing Co. Sharpsburg and Jeanette, PA

09

Robert H. Graupner, Inc. Harrisburg, PA

10

Robert H. Graupner, Inc. Harrisburg, PA

11

William Gretz Brewing Co. Philadelphia PA

12

Pilsner Brewing Co. Hazleton, PA

13

Horlacher Brewing Co. Allentown, PA

14

Charles D. Kaier Co. Mahanoy City, PA

15

Kuebler Brewing Co. Easton, PA

16

Liebert & Obert aka Cooper Brewing Co. Philadelphia, PA

17

Mauch Chunk Brewing Co. Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe), PA

18

Mount Carbon Brewery Mount Carbon (Pottsville), PA

19

Louis F. Neuweiler’s Sons Allentown, PA

20

The Old Reading Brewery, Inc. Reading, PA

21

Philadelphia Brewing Co. Philadelphia, PA

22

Adam Scheidt Brewing Co. Norristown, PA

23

Seitz Brewing Co., Inc. Easton, PA

24

Barbey’s Inc. Reading, PA

25

Widman Brewing Co. Bethlehem, PA

26

D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. Pottsville, PA

 

Non-Pennsylvania Tap Marker Signs

27

Acme Brewing Co. Los Angeles, CA

28

Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

29

Falstaff Brewing Corp. St. Louis, MO

30

The Kurth Co. Columbus, WI

31

Old Port Brewing Corp. Port Washington, WI

32

Rock Island Brewing Co. Rock Island, IL

33

Denmark Brewing Co. Denmark, WI

34

Pioneer Beer

35

Seattle Brewing & Malting Seattle, WA

36

Jacob Ruppert, Inc. New York, NY (finished)

37

Jacob Ruppert, Inc. New York, NY (stamped)

38

Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. Milwaukee, WI

39

Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. Milwaukee, WI





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