Saturday, October 27, 2018

Celebrating the Treasured Barmaid!

Over the years of this blog I have highlighted a range of images related to beer and its advertising, including King Gambrinus, tiny angels, women sitting in moons, and motorists imbibing.  Octoberfest 2018 provides an opportunity to review the depiction of the barmaid — she of the dirndl dress and the foaming steins of brew.   You may call it a stereotype of the female, but the reality has brought joy to the hearts of many.

In 1912, for example, the U.S. Brewer’s Association held it 26th annual convention in Cleveland. Conventioneers were given a clothes brush for the men, shown left, and a pocket mirror for their wives, right.   Both items featured an illustration in celluloid of a barmaid balancing on a barrel while carrying eight steins of foaming beer.  These souvenirs were a gift to the brewmasters from the Cleveland Brewers Supply Co. a business that provided breweries with everything from barrel washers, barrel hoops, gauges, hop separators, and keg scrubbers to a range of chemicals, Irish moss and isinglass.

The image of a barmaid dancing on a beer barrel would have been familiar to the beer crowd.  The Fred Sehring Brewery of Joliet, Illinois, commissioned from ceramics merchant Hugo Theumler of Pittsburgh a beer stein for 1900 that emphasized a calendar for the year, flanked by two figures.  The elaborate label includes, as shown here, a woman whose twisted body indicates a flamboyant mood as she lifts high a foaming goblet while straddling a wooden keg. 

Bock beer often used a winsome bar maid in its advertising, usually in the company of the traditional goat, a symbol for the darker brew.  The dance theme is carried forward in a poster of an 1880s vintage that features a pretty waitress, with overflowing tankards in hand, dancing on a beer barrel with a very attentive goat . No brewery is mentioned.

The dance theme is repeated in an 1880s bock trade card shows a goat dancing with a girl, both of them brandishing beer glasses, while a second goat plays the fiddle. These goats conjure up the image of the satyr, the Roman mythical half man/half goat who frequently is seen in erotic juxtaposition with attractive, loosely clad or nude women.

The final bock card clearly is meant to be humorous as goat bowls over a black waiter who had been carrying a full tray of drinks.  In his charge the animal has missed the barmaid who is carrying a full tray of steins, filled to the brim with foaming dark beer.   The card exhibits the ability of the Baltimore lithographic company that created it to execute a cartoon in many vivid colors. 

Even the Europeans fancy their barmaids on barrel.  Below are labels for two varieties of Holsten Beer, a product of Hamburg, Germany.  This brewery, acquired by the Carlsberg Group in 2004, was found in 1879.  It currently owns seven breweries in Germany.  Early in the 20th Century it made a foray into England by buying the Union Brewery on the south bank of River Thames.  The outbreak of World War One and anti-German sentiment in Jolly Old caused it to fail.
St. Pauli Girl beer traditionally has been represented by a barmaid in dirndl.  The brand derives its name from the fact that the original brewery, which was established in 1857 by L├╝der Rutenberg, was located next to the former St. Paul's Friary in Bremen.  Seen below are a vintage label together with a modern version.  Today St. Pauli Girl is located within Beck’s Brewery in Bremen. 

A French version of the barmaid gave her a tall hat.  She appears on a label of  Biere Francaise, apparently brewed in Nantes,  a city I once found by mistake, having been routed off main roads by the Tour de France.  This brew apparently took a Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900.  It may have been the only beverage in the category since it apparently non-alcoholic.

This field trip to review barmaids of the ages ends with four photographic trade cards of a comely young woman who in series is pouring a beer, lifting a stein, sipping a sample, and raising “Prost” to the crowd.  A saucy lass, she was a feature of the Falstaff Brewery, so named in 1903 after the Shakespearean character, Sir John Falstaff.   Production of Falstaff Beer peaked in the mid 1960s and then steadily fell over ensuing years.  The brand went out of production in 2005.

In ending this tribute to the barmaid, it seems only fitting to devote this post to Mitzi, my favorite barmaid.  Holding forth at the Trail’s End Lodge on Vliet Street in Milwaukee, Mitzi never failed to dress in dirndl and kept the beers coming as my companions and I serenaded her from a rear booth at the venerable watering hole.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Weird Paperweights — The Animals

Anyone looking in on this blog from time to time will recognized my fixation with glass paperweights, particularly those that advertise a product or place from an earlier era.  Recently I have been intrigued with weights that feature animals in unusual — indeed, weird — situations and am happy here to share their images.

A good example is a glass weight that shows an alligator in harness pulling a wagon driven by a small boy.  The caption says “Driving Bessie at the Florida Alligator Farm” in Jacksonville, Florida.  The farm was the outgrowth of an “antiquarian Disneyland”  called Dixieland Park, opened in 1907 as “The Coney Island of the South.”  The venue featured a wide variety of rides, animals and other attractions.   Largely shut down after World War One, the park acquired a large number of alligators and was renamed the Florida Alligator Farm.  By the 1930s the entire collection was sold to what is now the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

A key element of the earlier Dixieland Park was its ostrich farm, the large birds a strange and exotic sight in early 20th Century America.  One could not just ogle the ungainly large birds, but also go for a ride on them.  Show here on a weight unbridled, the novelty of riding an ostrich apparently faded rather quickly.  After all, who wants to ride one twice?  Bring in the alligators!

The Cawston Ostrich Farm was the 1885 brainchild of Edwin Cawston who chartered a ship to take fifty birds from South Africa to Galveston, Texas, where they boarded a train for Pasadena, California.  Of the original fifty only eighteen survived the trip but, nature being as it is, the farm had over 100 ostriches from the survivors.  Shown here is some of Cawston’s flock.

The Cawston Ostrich Farm became a premier Southern California tourist attraction for many years, aided by a trolley line that brought visitors from Los Angeles.  Guests were able to ride on the backs of ostriches, as shown here, be taken for ostrich drawn carriage rides, and buy ostrich feathered hats, boas, capes and fans at the Ostrich Farm store that was connected to the factory.  Although Cawston’s closed in the 1930s, original buildings still stand and are designated South Pasadena Cultural Landmark #18.

Ride an ostrich, why not ride a buffalo?  Bob Yokum, a saloon owner in South Dakota set out to prove that it could be done.  Not known for intelligence, buffalo —The American bison — do not like to be saddled or harnessed and have a mean “buck.”  Determined to find out what a buffalo could be trained to do, over several years Yokum was able to train them to pull a wagon and even to be mounted like a horse.   At his farm near Fort Pierre, S.D., he gave demonstrations, even to racing his buffalo against horses or putting them in a Mexican bull ring.  In each case, his shaggy beasts came out the winners.

While on the trail of the buffalo, here is a more contemporary paperweight, issued by the U.S. West telephone company showing two male buffalo butting out their aggression.  This company was one of a number of firms that emerged from the “break up” of the old AT&T.  The tag line is “Bring on the competition,” a reference to a number of firms vying for the landline business.  U.S. West is a couple of decades gone, the victim of mergers and changes in technology, e.g. cell phones.

The Metz Brothers Brewing Company was among the first brewers in Nebraska, founded in 1859 in Omaha and bought by the brothers in 1861.  By 1880 it was producing 12,400 barrels of beer annually.  Claiming they had “no equal in the country,”  Metz issued a number of giveaway items to saloons and restaurants carrying their brew, among them this weight showing a pretty young damsel trying to ride a donkey, with little success.  It has always puzzled me what a picture like this had to do with beer.

The fellow on the next weight had no fear of being bucked off because he appears to be riding a wooden horse.  Established in Cleveland in 1852 and incorporated 30 years later, the Sturtevant Lumber Company. The company seems to have had some imagination in depicting what I imagine was its founder riding this “splinter steed.”  Sturtevant’s yards and mill were located at Central Way, corner of Stone’s Levee.

Talk about weird.  Check out this camel with a Shriner’s hat, swatting down in a shirt and collar.  The city designation provides a clue.  Troy, New York, bears the nickname the “Collar City,” a label that originated in the long-term presence of the detachable collar industry that began in Troy in the 1820s.  In addition to collars and cuffs, an entire shirt industry grew up in Troy.  Making shirts early in the nineteenth century became a factory business with numerous companies being located in Troy’s urban center.  International Shirt & Collar Co., faced with considerable competition even in Troy, went the route of the camel.

Let’s end this litany with an elephant.  This one advertises “Ivorine,” a product whose purpose is only hinted at on the object.  It declares that “Ivorine is a big thing,” and that the animal’s tusks were cleaned with Ivorine.  Nowhere can I find a hint of what this product was and what it did.  The word is generically used for anything resembling ivory and the reason, I presume, that an elephant was chosen to grace the paperweight.

From alligator to elephant, the makers of vintage glass paperweights have employed the odd images of animals to advertise.  They provide a glimpse into a not-so-distant past that, looking at these, can seem eons ago.