The Labologist's Society

International Society of Label Collectors & British Brewery Research

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Sometimes the differences between different labels were due to a design update or simply a desire to improve the look of the label. There doesn’t appear to be any change in the M & R Export Pale Ale, but the font at the bottom looks different. However, the most significant change is in the dock scene which looks so much sharper in the label on the left. Thanks to Eric for sending the images.

I don’t think we have featured labels from Webster’s Brewery in this series, so here are two Velvet Stout labels from the late 1940s and early 1950s. I leave it to you to work out the earlier. You can almost hear the conversations ‘we’ve got a full stop, why do you think it needs a comma as well?’ Note also the different ampersands. The label on the left has had a bit of damage, I have been looking in vain for a replacement for some time. I guess a few of you will be checking your albums.


Difficult to work out why there are these two differences. Mann, Crossman & Paulin merged with Watney in 1958 and I think both labels are from around this time. The label on the right has the correct apostrophe for the Brown Ale from Mann. However, it may be that the label on the left is part of a marketing campaign to identify what was Mann’s Brown Ale as a Manns in a similar way that we refer to a domestic cleaning appliance as a Hoover. Or perhaps it was issued after the ‘merger’ and so it was no longer Mann’s.

Today we move on to a second important difference found on some labels. By important, I mean there are collectors who look for these particular differences to add to their collections. Yes it’s the dreaded apostrophe. I know we have featured a pair of Best Bitter labels from this brewery in the past, but I am sure you won’t mind another pair. My guess is that the company had no idea of the correct punctuation and so had different sets produced, the dates are nearly identical. The dies used are slightly different in a number of ways. 

Normal service is resumed after the recent travels. The last of the differences in colour of paper. This time we feature the Oatmeal Stout from Wenlock Brewery. Once again, I believe these to have been printed from the same die; the printer probably just ran out of one of the papers.


There are not many occasions when labels are printed on pink paper. The die used for both these Pale Ale labels appears to be identical, at least it is using my comparator tool. It is possible that the pink paper was in use first and the white replaced it because it had greater contrast. Most collectors are happy to have one coloured paper but are always happy to add a second, different colour, if the price is right.

Collectors of beer bottle labels come with all sorts of preferences; age, geography, beer type, bottler to name a few. I am frequently asked about the small differences featured in this blog. Who looks for them? I thought it would be useful to feature some of those differences, starting with different coloured paper. Two labels Extra Stout labels here from Shrewsbury & Wem Brewery. Is it simply a phone call to say ‘We’ve run out of the usual paper, is it OK to use a slightly darker version?’ or was it a decision at board level to change colour? We will possibly never know, but we can still enjoy. Perhaps collectors can tell us their preferences.

Thanks to Nick for reminding me that we hadn’t featured labels from the Bristol Brewery in this series. Several differences to note here, but most obvious is the coat of arms. I wonder if anyone knows when and why it was introduced, or maybe discontinued.


The queue lengthens! This pair was sent to me from Scotland by a collector who wishes to be only described as ‘A Scottish Collector’. Intriguing. I have the label on the left, but the other was unknown to me. The Crystal Spring Brewery is not one that I know, and nor does the Brewery History Society. Some help would be appreciated.

It has clearly struck a chord with some collectors (about 4) that contributions are gratefully received and we can continue the Scottish export label theme with these three (again) from Ballingall & Son of Dundee. I don’t think it will be quite so easy to try to distinguish between the three but we would love you to try.