Wednesday’s ad is for Budweiser, from 1915, No. 3 in a series they did in 1914-15 called “Framers of the Constitution of the U.S.A.” The third one features Alexander Hamilton, and tells the story of Hamilton creating the Constitution, and his contributions to creating credit. And apparently he was also a fan of beer. “During Hamilton’s lifetime he used his great influence to encourage and protect the brewing industry. Among all the Fathers of the Republic none knew better than he that honestly-brewed barley-malt beers make for true temperance.”
Today is the birthday of American illustrator and painter Norman Rockwell (February 3, 1894-November 8, 1978) one of the 20th centuries most famous artists. Known for his wholesome depictions of everyday American life, his paintings appeared on the covers of the Saturday Evening Post for almost fifty years, and he frequently did work involving the Boy Scouts, Boys’ Life and such patriotic subjects as “The Four Freedoms.” For a long time, I had assumed his conspicuous absence from the “Beer Belongs” series of ads that the brewing industry did from the 1940s through the 1960s employing some of the best known illustrators of the day, was because he wanted to maintain his wholesome image. But I later found out that he had done quite a bit of advertising work, including for at least one beer company, the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Co.
There’s also “Man with Sandwich and Glass of Beer,” which I believe was painted for an unspecified beer ad, between 1947 and 1950. I far as I can tell, it was never used, as I’ve been unable to turn up the illustration in any actual advertisement. If someone as famous as Rockwell had done the ad, it would be highly collectible and would turn up somewhere.
But several years earlier, in 1930, he did do an illustration for the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Co., and specifically for their brand, Schmidt’s City Club Beer, which they started brewing in the 1920s as a non-alcoholic beer, though after 1933 it became a golden lager.
The City Club Beer label in 1933.
It looks like they continued to use the image, and who can blame them, for years afterwards, both in other ads and merchandising. For example, they used the artwork as the back of a deck of promotional playing cards for the brewery in 1954.
I’d seen the ad before, and searched in vain for a decent size image of it, finding only small ones. But then over the summer, “thrifting” (which is what my son calls going to yard sales and thrift shops), I found a coffee table book of Norman Rockwell’s advertising work published in 1985. And lo and behold, there was the beer ad. So I picked up the book, scanned the ad, and here it is below in all of its glory. One of the few beer ads by one of the best known illustrators in America. It includes all his trademark folksy charm, and it still relatively subtle for an advertisement, which the wooden case of beer being the most prominent sign of the brand. The bottles have the City Club labels on them, but they’re hard to see sitting on the table. A very cool ad and definitely one of my favorites.
Tuesday’s ad is for Budweiser, from 1915, No. 2 in a series they did in 1914-15 called “Framers of the Constitution of the U.S.A.” The second one features James Madison, and tells the story of Madison creating the Constitution, and being a moderate beer drinker. “Many a foaming glass of good barley-malt beer he drank with his bosom friend Thomas Jefferson.”
Monday’s ad is for Budweiser, from 1915, No. 1 in a series they did in 1914-15 called “Framers of the Constitution of the U.S.A.” The first one features George Washington, and tells the story of Washington presiding over the Constitutional Convention and draws some clumsy parallels between him and Anheuser-Busch. I especially love this one. “Like all of the great men of his time, he was a moderate user of good old barley brews.”
Saturday’s ad is for F. Klemm’s Bock Beer, from around 1880. F. Klemm was located in Baltimore, Maryland. But the scene if pretty amazing, if a little surreal. I bock parade from the brewery includes a float with a giant goat and a large barrel of what I can only presume is F. Klemm’s Bock Beer, with Gambrinus leading from the flaot, which is being pulled by six goats. The throngs of people watching the parade look very happy, which I suspect is because they’re drinking some of F. Klemm’s bock.
Thursday’s ad is for Ballantine Bock Beer, from sometime before prohibition. This one is pretty cool, meant to look as if it’s intricately carved wood. It shows the Ballantine rings, but with a goat peeking through the bottom ring, and a chariot being pulled by a pair of them. I wonder if it would disappear if you hung it in a paneled den?
Wednesday’s ad is for Amstel Bock Beer, from 1935. It’s hard to think of Amstel brewing a bock, but they did make Amstel Dark when I was a kid. But the ad itself is pretty cool, that minimalist thirties style with strong colors and lines. Although the goat is wearing a blank expression and doesn’t look happy to be there.
Tuesday’s ad is yet another one for Frank Fehr Brewing Co.’s Bock Beer, again probably from the 1890s. The brewery was located in Louisville, Kentucky, but started out as the Otto Brewery. Its name changed to Frank Fehr in 1890, and remained that name until it closed in 1964. In this one, a serving woman holds three beers on her tray for unseen customers, smiling and staring in their direction. Behind her, a goat is staring, not at the customers, but at the woman, and more disturbing, he’s licking his lips. What the hell kind of ad is this?