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George Greisser, brew master for Reisch Brewery before prohibition, came back to the company after the repeal to restart production.  His skills were highly esteemed, as he had over 50 years experience as a brew master.   (Photograph from Sangamon Valley Collection, Lincoln Library, Springfield, Illinois.)

 

 

The match striker dates to the 1890's, according to what I was told, and was used in local taverns.   The bottom band and back has a raised crosshatched pattern for striking the match.   (Photograph by Tony White, of his collection.)

 

 

This beautiful sign has curved white glass and is backlit by a light bulb. Reisch often used the peacock on  its labels and advertising, dating back to the time that peacock "watch birds" wandered the grounds around  the family home behind the brewery.   (Photograph by Tony White, of his collection.)

 

The copy on this metal sign reads, “Reisch’s Wiener Style Special Bottled Beer.” This style was popular around 1912 to 1915.   (Photograph by Tony White, of his collection.)

 

This advertisement was produced during Prohibition. It reads, “Shock absorbers. We have all got to take the rough with the smooth, and to know how to take the rough smoothly is the whole art of living. We propose to conduct our business so that, no matter what may occur to the market, we have the confidence of our patrons at all times. Reisch Brewing Company. Reliable bottlers of soda waters, all flavors.”   The sign also says, “Prompt service and we deliver.”

And finally, note the phone number: Phone Main 252. At that time the telephone company in Springfield didn’t need as many digits to identify its customers.   (Photograph courtesy of Tim Wallace.)

 

This advertisement was produced to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Reisch Brewery. It reads, “ Gold Top. 1849 to 1949. 100 years of better beer. With pardonable pride we call attention to the fact that our brewery has been in the same family and the same location for an entire century.”   (Photograph courtesy of Joan B. Reisch.)

 

Reisch continued to innovate. This advertisement reads, “Now…enjoy the full flavor of genuine Reisch Draft Beer, anytime, anywhere. The hearty draft beers that’s proved Springfield’s favorite for over 100 years is now available in handy throw-away quarts.”  “This is not a “light draft”, “almost draft”, or “taste like draft” beer. This is genuine Reisch Draft Beer, just as you enjoy it, time after time, from the tap. Get it at your favorite tavern or from the refrigerated case at your package store.”   (Photograph courtesy of Gary Zimmerman.)

 

These three beer coasters were probably produced in the late 1950’s. All three feature the same cartoon character with a handlebar mustache. The first one shows this man with a large mug of beer sitting on a lounger in front of a wall made of cases of Reisch Beer. The caption reads, “This is what I call living, wall to wall Reisch!”

The second coaster shows a dog with a six pack of beer in its mouth and our character in front of him saying, “But it’s my Reisch!”

This third coaster shows the friendly cartoon character looking at a fish bowl and thinking of a frosty glass of Reisch Beer.   (Photographs courtesy of Jim Searle, Daryl Ponder, Tony White.)

 


President’s Office Door: This massive paneled door is a full eight-foot high, three feet wide and two inches thick. It is paneled and covered with oak veneer. In the middle of the door is a frosted glass panel with the words, “President’s Office.”

My father bought this door when the brewery was being torn down and put it in storage in a shed behind our house. After my father died I brought it to where I live now, in Winchester Virginia, and again put in storage. Finally, in 1991, when I built new offices for my company, I was able to get the ceilings made 8 1/2 feet high so that I could accommodate this door that had been in storage for over 25 years. Miraculously the glass had not been broken despite many moves and years of storage.

 

 

This attractive lady on this metal tray was named Mildred. It advertises Reisch’s Gold Top bottle beer. It was copyrighted in 1906, so Reisch probably used it shortly after that.   (Photograph courtesy of Jim Searle.)

 

At the height of the Reisch Company’s production the concern operated about a dozen wagons throughout the city. Several different kinds of wagons were operated by the company. Not all of the wagons were used for the delivery of beer. There were ice wagons, coal wagons and barley wagons. Two kinds of beer delivery wagons were in use: the keg wagon was used only to deliver keg beer; the bottled beer wagon was used for delivery to residences. At one time more than 40 horses were kept in the Reisch stables near the brewery plant on Herndon Street. A blacksmith shop nearby employed a smithy to keep the horses well shod.   (Photograph from Sangamon Valley Collection, Lincoln Library, Springfield, Illinois.)

 

The brewery never had all of the buildings shown in this picture. It is an artist's conception of what the brewery might have looked like if it had continued expanding.

The actual collection of brewery buildings was impressive enough. It included a 5-story brick icehouse, a 3-story malt house of 100,000 bushels capacity, stables for 48 horses, and numerous other buildings.

Please notice the dark black smoke pouring from the smokestack; this was a symbol of a prosperous operating factory in the days before environmental protection and the EPA became part of American life.

In 1912, when the brewery was at its peak, they sold 100,000 barrels of beer. This is a lot of beer! It would make 1,375,000 cases of 12 ounce bottles. If stacked 8 cases high it would make a wall over 6' high and 46 miles long!    (Photograph courtesy of William T. Kabisch.)

 

Beer Labels: In my opinion the label for Sangamo beer is the most interesting and attractive label Reisch ever made. It pre-dates Prohibition.  Notice the peacock in the upper right corner. Peacocks roamed the grounds around the Reisch family home. You will see the peacock on many Reisch labels, signs, etc.   (Photograph courtesy or either Daryl Ponder, Tony White or the Sangamon Valley Collection, Lincoln Library, Springfield, Illinois.)

 

However, a strong case could be made for the Gold Top label being the most attractive. I think the typography and graphic layout is outstanding.   (Photograph by Tony White, of his collection.)

 

The label for Reisch’s Munchener beer is also attractive, if somewhat faded.   (Photograph courtesy  either Daryl Ponder, or the Sangamon Valley Collection, Lincoln Library, Springfield, Illinois.)

 

The first motor delivery truck purchased by the Reisch Brewery in 1906 was an old chain driven Marquette. It was a novelty to see this truck rumble along its way with a load of beer. Soon other trucks were added. One was called the Mais, then an Oneida, and later Federals and Fords.   (Photograph from the Sangamon Valley Collection, Lincoln Library, Springfield, Illinois.)

 

After World War II there was renewed interest in reenacting Prohibition. The wording on the poster reads as follows: "The brewing and allied industries give employment to millions. Keep these millions employed. Help fight Prohibition by practicing moderation. Your right to drink legally is a privilege; do not abuse it. Moderation is a part of good citizenship. Be a good citizen." Illinois State Counsel of Brewery Workers. 

The end of World War II brought increased competition to the Reisch Brewing Company. Anheuser-Busch, only 100 miles away in St. Louis, could now easily ship beer into Springfield. They could spread their advertising budget over millions of barrels and bottles, saturating the radio with catchy copy and musical jingles; they captured the market of younger beer drinkers.   (Photograph by Tony White, of his collection.)

 

If you were around in 1919 and came across this poster, would you quit drinking?   (Photograph courtesy Mary Lou Reisch.)

 

This is a glass sign with the lettering and coloring printed in reverse on the back of the glass. The banner at the top may be hard to read. It says, “1849 to 1949. 100 years of better beers. Reisch Gold Top Beer.”   (Photograph by Tony White, of his collection.)

 

This is a large neon sign, usually hung over the door or off the corner of a corner building.  (It's size is somewhere around 30" to 36" by 30" to 36".)  It was made by Henry Signs of Springfield, Illinois.  According to Al Bringuet, of Ace Sign Company, Henry Signs specialized in mass production of neon business signs (as opposed to one-of-a-kind custom signs).   (Photograph courtesy of Al Briguet and the Ace Sign Company.)

 

These two pictures show the same lamp. It has a revolving lampshade on the top. Some clever person designed a lamp shade with heat deflectors at the top to take the rising heat from the light bulb and make the lamp shade turn slowly around. This created an animated advertisement at very low cost. In addition to the Reisch Beer label used in the 50’s, the lampshade has the lettering “The slow aged brew that’s right for you.” Below this lettering are a series of small holes in the lampshade, so as the lampshade revolves, in addition to getting a scrolling message there is also a series of small pinpoints of light that draw your attention to the advertisement.   (Photograph courtesy Daryl Ponder.)

 

This certificate was issued on the tenth day of December, 1948, for 275 shares and was signed by Walter S. Reisch, the Secretary-treasurer and Carl M. Reisch, the president.    (Photograph courtesy Joan B. Reisch.)

 

Copyright 2008 Tony White