Here’s another fun historical artifact that I came across when I one of my beer ads was for the Robert Smith Ale Brewing Company, which was founded in Philadelphia in 1774, incorporated in 1887, and was apparently acquired by Schmidt’s around 1881. In 1909, Schmidt’s, through their Robert Smith Ale Brewing Company brand, commissioned a local artist, James Preston, to create a series of twelve works depicting pre-revolutionary taverns and inns in or near Philadelphia as way to promote the heritage of the Robert Smith beer brand.
James Moore Preston (1873-1962) was artist and illustrator who trained under Thomas Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Preston also did one cover for the “Saturday Evening Post,” in April 1905, although his most active period was during the 1920s. Here, you can read more about Preston’s http://rogallery.com/Preston_James_Moore/Moore_Preston-biography.htmlbiography.
And here’s more about Robert Smith, from an article in Zymurgy magazine by Pennsylvania beer historian Rich Wagner from 1991.
Another brewer who withstood the test of time was Robert Smith. What was to become Robert Smith’s Ale Brewery had its humble beginnings in 1774 when Joseph Potts established a brewery at Fifth and Minor Streets in Philadelphia. During the British occupation of the city, the brewery was seized and used as a barracks.
In 1786 Henry Pepper purchased Potts’ brewery and operated it quite successfully. His wealth and philanthropy were demonstrated when he provided the clock and bell in the tower of Independence Hall. Upon his death in 1898 he donated large sums of money to many charitable and cultural institutions of the city. His son George headed the brewery and directed it successfully before leasing the establishment to Robert Smith.
In 1837 Smith came to America after having served an apprenticeship with the Bass Brewery in Burton-on-Trent, England. He began brewing on St. John Street near the Delaware River. He became acquainted with Pepper and Sickel and in 1845 purchased their brewery.
The Robert Smith India Pale Ale Brewing Company was incorporated in 1887 and moved to a new plant at 38th and Girard (right across the Schuylkill River from “Brewerytown”). It operated until Prohibition as the oldest brewery in continuous operation in America. In 1891 Robert Smith was described as a “hale and hearty” 84-year-old who was still running the brewery. He died two years later and the business was reorganized as the Robert Smith Ale Brewing Co. owned by Schmidt’s Brewery of Philadelphia. The Smith brewery produced mainly ales and stouts. Production figures for the turn of the century are: 1902: 53,521 bbl.; 1905: 61,910 bbl.; 1907: 64,400 bbl. Brands included Tiger Head Ale, XXX Stout, Porter, IPA, Old Mystery, Imperial Burton and English Pale.
In addition to the posters, they also created a short book — more or a pamphlet at 37 pages — with information about the brewery and each of the twelve images.
Here’s the book’s introduction:
Below are all twelve illustrations. In each case, I used the biggest and best image I could find. Below each print I’ve added the text from the book, and it appears that some editions of the posters may have even included that text just below each print.
And here’s the final page of text from the 1909 book.