Monday, September 27, 2010

Classic Oshkosh Beer Labels

I’m a labelholic. I love examing the beer cans and bottle labels of bygone breweries and trying to tease out the information embedded in their imagery. Today I’d like to give you a taste of the stuff that fuels my addiction. Here are six scans of bottle labels produced by Oshkosh's big three: Rahr, Peoples and Oshkosh Brewing. This beautiful set belongs to John Marx, a former Oshkosh resident now living in Madison who had the labels scanned so he could share them with us. Thanks, John!

The first label, from the Oshkosh Brewing Company, is a pre-prohibition label from 1914. It marks the company’s fiftieth anniversary and it’s the oldest of the bunch. 

This Chief Oshkosh label is from the 1940s.

Here’s the label for Rahr's Elk’s Head beer as it looked prior to the 1950s. Notice that all of these labels have the “Internal Revenue Tax Paid” statement upon them. The requirement that brewers include this information on their labels was dropped in March of 1950.

Here are a couple of interesting labels from Peoples Brewing. The original incarnation of these labels made no mention of “American” Wurtzer beer. But with the onset of World War II, Peoples changed their label from “Old Time Wurtzer” to “American Wurtzer” in an attempt to downplay the Germanic origins of their brew.

Finally, here’s a rare label for the only Ale brewed by a commercial brewery in Oshkosh during the post-prohibition era. Production of Old Derby Ale was halted in the early 1950s. There wouldn’t be another commercial Ale brewed in Oshkosh until Fox River Brewing arrived more than 40 years later.

I wish I knew more about these labels. Were they designed by local artists? Were they printed here in Oshkosh? If you have any information to share about these, please get in touch or leave a comment. And if you’d like a full-sized (suitable for framing) digital copy of any of these label scans, just send me an email. I’d be happy to pass them along, courtesy of John Marx.

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