Breweriana pub memorabilia as popular as ever with collectors

Our antiques expert looks at a highly collectable category of antiques that will quench any thirst!

Friday, 1st January 2021, 12:30 pm
This whisky cork stop costs five pounds
This whisky cork stop costs five pounds

I wonder who’s planning to complete ‘dry January’? One way to avoid a hangover is by collecting pub related items, or ‘breweriana’.

Beer has always been brewed in vats and barrels, with bottling around for over 600 years.

The earliest bottles were made of leather, and very rare to find. Glass bottles took over in the 17th century, and beer cans arrived around 1935.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

While not every home has room for some of the larger items of breweriana such as pub signs, mirrors, and beer barrels, there is a wealth of smaller items, including bottles, cans, tap handle and labels, plus promotional items like coasters, matchbooks, shirts, towels, statuettes, bottles, glasses, ash trays, drip trays and beer mats.

The collection of beer mats is a specialist field of its own called tegestology (from the Latin ‘tile’), with the advantage of being cheap and not taking up much room. First produced in Germany in the late 19th century, beer mats with advertising on found their way to the UK in the 1920s. Any pre-WWII coasters are very sought after.

Dedicated collectors seek anything and everything related to breweries, both old and new. Many specialise in items from bygone breweries, or from one particular brewery only.

Be warned, whereas one stone-glazed antique beer bottle may be an attractive ornament and acceptable to your other half, one from every brewery in the county may not!

Names are an important element, with Guinness topping the list. Others include Jack Daniel's, Jim Beam, Seagrams, Beefeater, and Bacardi.

These tap covers from Theakstons, Tetley, and Cumberland Breweries are part of a large range in the centre, these examples are just £6 each.

Breweriana encompasses more than just beer-related items. Wine itself is of course one of the few consumable collectables. Wine and spirits bottles, soda syphons, labels, openers, glasses, wine-making tools can also be collectable. This whisky cork stop is currently in the centre for £5.

Some breweriana evolved alongside now-forgotten rituals; for example, few of us today have a special spoon for dripping Absinthe through a sugar cube into our favourite tipple.

Breweriana shares many crossovers with another field with a satisfying name: smokerama. So if you’re resolving to give up both booze and cigarettes for the New Year, this may be the safest way to satisfy your cravings!