Fremlin Brothers of the Pale Ale Brewery, Maidstone, was not especially noted for its Stout. Yet in the early years of the 20th century they produced a Half Crown Stout which prompts several questions. What is a Half Crown? Was it the cost of the beer and if so how much did you get for your money? Was it just a name designed to give the impression of high quality?
I can answer the first question. A crown was equal to five shillings and since the 19th century was mainly minted for commemoration purposes, Coronations, Jubilees, festivals,the last one in 1965 on the death of Winston Churchill. So Half Crown was 2 shillings and six pence 2/6. Unlike the Crown coin, this was in continuous use until 1970.
We feel a lot more confident about today’s post after the responses to yesterday’s post. We are particularly grateful to Ron Pattinson for his succinct contribution. Here is a 90/- Ale, this time from Maclay & Co. of the Thistle Brewery, Alloa. A higher gravity ale, possibly similar to a Strong Ale in England. Scottish Brewing Heritage date this label to the 1900s, which, according to Ron, would mean 90 shillings a hogshead, which works out at 2½d a pint. This works well. If it is sold at 4d a bottle, which would have been a pint, reasonable profit for all.
Another example from Scotland, this time a completely different theme. A number of Scottish Brewers indicated the strength of their beers in either Shillings or Guineas. Maybe there was originally a connection with horse racing, where prizes were often given in Guineas, and of course guineas implies high quality. A Guinea was 21 shillings so 3 Guinea Ale was 63 shillings indicating a fairly weak beer as I have not come across 1 or 2 guinea beers. . At one time there may have been a relationship with the cost of a barrel of the beer. We shall return to this theme in the future. Here is Three Guinea Ale label from W.H.Brown of the Craigie Brewery in Dundee.
We are definitely in the realms of the quart bottle or possible even an larger container today. This must be a very early label, Allsopp merged with Ind Coope in 1933, and circular bottle labels were beginning to disappear after WW1. A shilling is a lot of money for that era, so I am going for a quart or possibly a half gallon salt glazed bottle. I wonder if anyone knows.
Today’s offering is another different method to indicate cost of the beer. Put the price on a stopper label. Stopper labels were introduced to stop the practice of unscrewing the top pouring out some beer and topping up with water. Hence early examples exhorted the drinker to ensure the label was unbroken. Some examples here from Fremlin’s of Maidstone and I won’t try to guess either the possible contents of the bottle or the size. Thanks again to Nick who sent in the images. For those lucky enough not to know, the top label reads 1 shilling and two pence, slightly less than 6p today.
Happy New Year to all our followers! And may your collecting year bring you many goodies. Like these maybe?
Very pleasing response to yesterday’s test. We should be more trusting of our followers. A second example from Carter’s Knottingley Brewery is added, both of which feature the 2d charge on the bottle in a tab at the top of the label. The company was acquired by Bentley’s Yorkshire Breweries in 1935 and in the 1920s and 30s the bottle charge would be at the very least an eighth of the cost of the beer, possibly more, even on a quart bottle. I can’t see many people happy to pay that proportion today, especially on a bottle costing over £3..
Brewers used different ways to include the price of the beer on the label. This Extra Stout label from Charles Wells of Bedford has the 6d price discretely located below the central roundel. A lovely label, our thanks go to Nick for providing the image.
We are off to Scotland for this next example. A third or less, of the cost of the previous two labels we have featured. MacLachlan’s Edinburgh Ale, which would appear to be a really cheap beer. Why only 2d I hear you ask? Was it because it is a much earlier label and so the beer is cheaper, was it because there was less money about in Scotland, so they had to keep the price low to get sales, or perhaps this label was for a half pint bottle?
We will start with the solution and judging by the number of emails we received many of you sorted it out. This is the correct way to view the labels.
We received a record 8 contributions from all parts of the globe. Actually three parts of the globe which we were really pleased about. First mail was from Nick, who thought my taste in music was really obscure. First correct solution was mailed at 11 minutes past 2 on Sunday afternoon from Pete S, who also wrote ‘ Ain’t the Internet great for advent quiz answers’. Brendan Bush was more explicit, he wrote ‘ I stared at the labels from a few minutes, the only thing that sprung to mind was Rolling Stones, so I googled their albums, found Beggars Banquet and then inspected the track listing’. Yorkshire Terrier knew the album, but complained that I had used an obscure track , so he had to resort to the internet and I suspect Geoff did the same, although I could be wrong there. Eric got his solution in by 3.30 together with an approving nod to the particular track, and Charlie D after an initial comment, ‘this is hard’ got the correct answer at 9.15. Sometime in the middle of the night, a mail arrived from A Brewer, who is associated with the Lion Brewery in New Zealand, thanking us for using their Crafty Beggars beers and sending the collage above, which is brilliant. Finally there was a mail from Gary in Indiana who complained that he never puts his laptop on on Christmas Day or Boxing Day so how did we expect him to be first. Fair point, I suppose. All in all, Advent Calendar 2017 a success, we think.
Something that will not stretch the budget in quite the same way as the Phillips & Marriott label would. Hole & Co of the Castle Brewery in Newark remained independent until 1967, when the company was acquired by Courage. The beer was a penny cheaper and although scarce this label would probably set you back less than a hundred pounds. Interesting use of ‘Tanner’ in the name of the beer, little to do with tanning, it was the popular name for a sixpenny piece.