It was probably 1984 and while I was in St. Louis for a work-related convention, I had a little time to kill. While others might flock to the infamous arch or sights on the Mississippi River, I headed (where else?) to the Anheuser Busch brewery.
I recall the tour was great, clydesdales, wooden escalators, huge copper kettles and a tasting room. The tour guide whisked us from site to site and one particular stop snagged my interest. In the lobby, there was a huge glass display case filled with Budweiser beer cans. The guide told the crowd, “this is every Budweiser beer can ever made.” It was a really an impressive display but I zeroed in on what would be the “rare” cans. Not to be “that guy”, I asked the tour guide privately about Budweiser Malt Liquor. I knew the can existed (I actually owned one at the time). She looked perplexed and told me that she didn’t know and she would ask someone. A short time later a guy in a suit came out and asked me what I knew about this can.
I didn’t really know much other than Budweiser Malt Liquor was produced for a short period of time, from 1972 – 1974 and it was part of a small test market release. I’ve seen a red and a white version of this can in a reference book. The black one is more common and can still be purchased on-line for less than $10. I think I gave this guy a project.
I didn’t want to tell him that I thought Budweiser also made drab green/non-metallic cans for WWII. I’ve yet to see one of those.
It doesn’t take long to figure out why this cone top beer can is my favorite can from my collection. As you can see, the label is misprinted and appears upside down on this particular cone top can. I’m not sure how many ended up this way but considering the condition and the fact this can is more than 70 years old, it’s got a lot going for it.
I acquired this can via a friend that owned a baseball card store in the early 90’s. He knew I collected cans and one day, a “little old lady” walked into his store and pulled this can from a thick wrapping of toilet paper. She tells my friend that her husband drank the beer, put the cap back on and wrapped it up assuming it would be worth something someday. My friend assumed the husband died and the widow was selling off his belongings. In typical fashion, he asked what she wanted for it. I think the price was agreeable and I believe I paid him $20 for it.
What’s my beer can worth?
No references anywhere to be found. It seems that a “regular” Silver Noggin in similar condition sold on eBay a couple of years ago for $155. I’d have to say the misprint could easily double the value and I’d put it north of $300. When I’m gone, I’m hoping my wife reads this before she tosses all my collection in the recycling bin.
As I mentioned in my post on a Krueger Beer Can, cans were introduced in New Jersey by Krueger in 1935. Others followed suit and some even began producing beer cans like this one that mimicked bottles, cap and all. Frankly, I thought cone top style vanished by the mid-40’s but I’ve since read that they were still in existence into the 50’s.
The American Can Company did a great job using marks to indicate where a can was made and the year the can was printed. On my particular Schmidt’s Silver Noggin Cone Top Can, I found in the tiniest print “10 – A” and then a baseball diamond with two dots to the right of the diamond. The 10 indicates that it was made in Brooklyn. The baseball diamond marking means 1946. Who knew? I thought cone tops vanished by the early 40’s.
In 1976, Schmidt’s released a series of beer cans commemorating our Bicentennial. I was taken by the artistry of the packaging and those particular cans began my interest in beer can collecting. To collect, I subjected my father to buying and drinking the worst beer. I would also spend hours walking along roadsides with friends that collected looking for old finds. Surprisingly, we found some pristine cans. I would also buy and trade cans along the way. Today, my collection sits in can totes in my attic.
I thought it would be interesting to post a photo here and there of some of my special cans.
This Krueger beer can was given to me by a friend just the other day. He is a contractor and while doing some demolition, he found this can in a wall cavity. A collector likes to see a can be opened from the bottom for ideal display. A 1957 builder unknowingly obliged by opening it from the bottom with what looks to be ten-penny nails.
In case you didn’t know, Krueger was the first brewer to put beer in cans. It was 1935 and canned beer was launched from their Newark, NJ brewery. Like today, canning made sense because it was easier to transport, chill and preserve.
Krueger brewed in Newark from 1858 until they were purchased by rival, Ballentine (my father’s brand) in 1961. They went through numerous ownerships and I was surprised to read that the Krueger Brewing name still lives on. They seem to contract brew at a couple of breweries. One of which is Buckhorn Brewing in Colorado. I think I have a Buckhorn can somewhere. Anyway, here’s a link to the brewery’s current incarnation: