Antiques column: Breweriana

William Wilson, from Chris Clubley and Co
William Wilson, from Chris Clubley and Co

The first catalogued fine art, antiques and collectables sale held by auctioneers Chris Clubley and Co this year proved a success.

The star lots included: a set of antique Russian silver teaspoons at £500, an oil of Rydal Water at £550 and a Clarice Cliff coffee set at £780. As with all our catalogued sales we had a lot of interest from around the world, including a successful bid on a grandfather clock, which is now being shipped to the USA.

A few weeks ago I wrote about beermats and this week I thought I’d go further and tell you about other items of BREWERIANA that are collected. The two big advantages of collecting beermats are that it is cheap and they don’t take up too much room but if neither of these two factors is important then you might extend to beer glasses, bar towels or even a bar itself, complete with beer pumps. From the bottle opener you use to prise off the top to the top itself, from the empty bottle to the label that adorns it, all are collectable, and it’s an added bonus if you enjoy the beer at the same time, you don’t get that if you collect thimbles.

Branded beer glasses are particular popular from Belgium, where they come in various shapes and sizes, reflecting the great diversity of beers available in that country. For example, the Kwak glass has a bulbous bottom and rests in a wooden cradle. Often the designs change over the years and it is the older versions that become sought-after and consequently worth more. Like with beermats, often the brewery will personalise all the bar paraphernalia and some collectors follow a specific brewery rather than single item theme. You can acquire everything from bottle openers to advertising signs and although they can be bought new most collectors buy at auction or specialist fairs.

You don’t have to be a collector to buy breweriana as a single item can be a focal point in a room but 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. If you are a bottle collector, we have a collection of vintage glass beer bottles from local breweries coming up in our next sale.

One of the highest prices achieved recently was £1,100 for a Brett Bros of York pub advertising mirror. That price was the exception as you would normally pay in the tens or early hundreds for breweriana when it comes up at auction. Breweriana is for the hobby collector not the investor collector, it shouldn’t cost you much but equally your collection won’t make you much. The next time you’re sat having a quiet pint in the pub or opening that bottle of ale at home, think about whether you’d like to be a breweriana collector, even if you never buy anything the research could be fun.