Mayflower Lager Beer Serving Tray, Imperial Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO. Circa 1902

Mayflower Lager Beer Serving Tray, Imperial Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO. Circa 1902

One of the funniest antique advertising items I have seen in years of collecting comes from the Imperial Brewing Company. This company was based in Kansas City, MO.   Featured prominently on their pre-prohibition serving tray is an entire bear family. They are on a picnic drinking Imperial Beer.  The caption on the bottom of the tray says “The Whole Family Likes It”.  Upon closer visual inspection you will see one of the cubs is lapping up his dads spilled beer from the ground. Meanwhile their sibling rushes to join in.  The momma bear is right behind the cubs and appears to be ready to join in on the fun.

The tray features a foil top blob top style beer bottle. This helps date the tray to the 1902-1905 era. This is before the crown top became widely used and the blob style bottles were outlawed by the FDA.   The Imperial Brewing Company also put out a similar tray for their other brand, “Imperial Seal” lager.


The Imperial Brewing Company was located at 2825 Southwest Boulevard just south of downtown Kansas City, Missouri.   The brewery was a relative later comer to the brewing industry as they only started brewing beer in April 1902.    Both the Imperial Seal and Mayflower lager beer brands were officially launched to the market in May of that same year.   While the company enjoyed some initial sales success, the lager beer market was very competitive in Kansas City. They competed with brewers in St. Louis, Milwaukee and Chicago all selling their brands in the market with considerable success.

The company had been created from a merger of the Ferd Heim Brewery and the Rochester Brewing Company, However, due to the competition, after only a few years in the market and facing bankruptcy, the newly formed Kansas City Breweries Company was bought out in December 1905.   The new company focused their sales on other brands, and both the Mayflower and Imperial Seal brands were shortly thereafter discontinued.  The discontinuation of the brands ended the bear’s party. It also ended the chance for collectors to find other types of early advertising from this brewery featuring this funny scene.