Leader Board Ad

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! and aToast to a Long-Gone Beer

As we went around the dinner table tonight, we all said one thing we were thankful for. AVA said "friends," my wife said "Family."  No one else could really top that, and the rest of us said a variation until it was my turn. I often wonder what other nations (besides Canada) think of our holidays. A long time ago at a dinner table far, far away I am sure that Yoda is looking at our celebration and exclaiming, "Holiday named I appreciation for thanks giving called!" Well as funny as the name sounds, I didn't go into any diatribe over how it could be better named, and gave my thanks, "I am thankful for the family that is here, and the family that is not...and estate sales." Not meant to be callous, though this could be compared to asking Santa for world peace and a machine gun. Truthfully, I really am thankful for a lot of things and whether you are reading this because I hounded you with email blast, after email blast, or you showed up randomly, or you came here via the growing number of other bloggers who post my link on their site...for them and you, and my guest writers, I am especially thankful. This blog has been an interesting exercise in writing, marketing, photography, goal-setting, etc., and the pay-off in experience alone is worth the effort.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank You.

I was thankful last weekend, when the only area sales within range were Redding and Danbury, CT. The Redding sale turned out to be a repeat of someone's items displayed in a 4-car garage. Only this time, the bulk of items were an odd collection of several hundred old books. Among them were 2 subjects that are among my weakness...beer, and other peoples mail. No, I am neither a lush, nor a spy. When the opportunity to spy on a famous brewer in 1950's New York came up, well, okay, by that definition I am a spy. I am also known for judging a book (not people) by its cover.
Ruppert Knickerbocker Beer Annual Report 1958
Unremarkable to look at, but at 10" tall and in good condition for 1958, definitely worth opening. Inside it is a year in the life of the board of directors of the then 90 year old brewery Rupert Knickerbocker. I remember the brand from other brewerina items I have found (and didn't keep), and had a fondness for beers that were truly New York brands (Rheingold, too) and now gone.  I quickly leafed through the book and saw some of the mention of their sales figures and opinions of ad campaigns and knew I had to buy this.
Ruppert Knickerbocker Beer Annual Report 1958 Ad
$5 later and back home, I am reading every word and sadly realizing that in 1958 this is a beer in decline. All their monthly meeting reports read the same: " We sold 99,000 barrels last month, which is down 1700 barrels for the same period last year...what happened?"  To me that sounds like New York, New Jersey and most of New England was drinking a heck of a lot of beer last month in 1958.  Unfortunately, not enough. The reports go on to talk of consolidation, plant closure, and even reduction of the number of paid board members, "Sorry Bob, you're history."
The comments on the ad campaigns are also great with some board members feuding over which tagline works best, and "Knock for a Knick!" losing badly at the table.
Knickerbocker Beer ad
This ad comes from a site on New York History and I have to thank the researchers there for digging this up and letting me use it (awaiting permission). Though this brewery lasted into the 60's, it was interesting to see why it wasn't going to last much longer than that. Included in the book is the transcription of the stockholders meeting where a very heated discussion occurs of the rumor that Anheuser-Busch may have wanted to buy them out and how the Board was silent instead of acknowledging or denying it. 

If you like Beer and its history, I may have found a gem, but that wasn't all I found at this sale:
Post Card Souvenir Album
not in great condition, but full of 100+ year old post cards...see you next post!

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