Bluff City Brewery Tray Shows Friars Playing Cards.

Bluff City Brewery Serving Tray, 1900

Bluff City Brewery Serving Tray, 1900

One of my favorite brewery trays was given out as a premium item to saloons and reads, “Compliments of the Bluff City Brewery” in Alton, Illinois, 1900.   This colorful tray shows a couple of friars or monks playing cards with two other men drinking beer and advertises their Pilsener Beer.   A dog lies sleeping on the floor and the cook looks over their shoulders watching “A Close Game” as the scene is labeled.

The Bluff City Brewery was located in Alton, Illinois within Madison County which is part of the St. Louis Metropolitan area. It was in business from 1881 through 1952.  William (Wilhelm) Netzhammer purchased the brewery in 1883. Netzhammer was the son of a brewer and he worked as a brew master and brewery foreman for several breweries before heading to Alton, Illinois with an opportunity to run his own brewery.

The Bluff City Brewery flourished under Netzhammer’s management. He added new buildings and installed innovative machinery to manufacture ice to cool ice storage cellars and for retail sales. The Bluff City Brewery produced Bluff City Select, Special Brew, Bock and Bohemian brands of beer.

The Bluff City Brewery remained in business until 1952. Today, some smaller buildings of the brewery still remain including the bottling company building and the brewery owner’s house. Breweriana collectibles for Bluff City Brewery found today include vintage beer bottles, trays, tin signs, reverse-on-glass signs, lighted signs, neon signs, corner signs, Vitrolite signs, porcelain signs and brewery boxes.  This pre-prohibition tray was manufactured by the H. D. Beach Company in Coshocton, OH.