Beer Tray

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This metal, oval-shaped tray depicts the complex of buildings that made up Frederick Bauernschmidt’s American Brewery, one of Baltimore’s most successful breweries in the early 1900s. The tray’s border is decorated with stylized illustrations of wheat and hops used in the production of beer and four patriotic shields that feature the brewer’s initials “FB.” The entire surface of the tray is filled with a bird’s eye view of the modern brewery that Bauernschmidt opened in 1899; the engine and boiler house is identified, as is the bottle house. Horse-drawn wagons loaded with barrels are shown in the foreground and other neighborhood structures are visible in the background but not identified. Frederick Baurenschmidt’s American Brewery produced beer between 1899 and 1919; the tray likely dates between 1910, when the bottling plant was operational, and 1919.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1863, Frederick Bauernschmidt was the son of brewer George Baurenschmidt, who had emigrated from Wambach, Germany, in 1853, and his wife Margaretha, whose family (Weissner) was also involved in the city’s brewing business. George, who started life in America working for another Baltimore brewery, opened his own beer plant in 1864. As his family grew, his sons, including Frederick, learned the business and, in 1897, Frederick began construction of his own modern brewery. The following year, George sold his plant to the Maryland Brewing Company, a conglomerate that aggressively acquired various independent companies, many of which had been established by immigrants from Germany.
Frederick borrowed money to complete his new production plant, which he named “American Brewery” when it opened in 1899. His business grew and by the dawn of Prohibition in 1919, Frederick Bauernschmidt was producing around 350,000 barrels of beer annually. With the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting the production and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States, Baurenschmidt’s American Brewery closed. Bauernschmidt remained active in the civic life of Baltimore and made significant contributions to support the Union Memorial Hospital and other organizations and associations devoted to providing care to Baltimore’s citizens. Frederick Baurenschmidt died in 1933.
This commemorative beer tray is part of a large collection of brewing material donated to the museum in 1967 by former brewmaster Walter Voigt, of Ruxton, Maryland, near Baltimore. Voigt’s collection consists of objects and archival materials reflecting the history of brewing in the mid-Atlantic region between 1870 and the beginnings of consolidation and large-scale, industrial production in the 1960s. His correspondence reveals an interest in preserving the history of brewing in America before brewmasters were “replaced by chemical engineers and highly trained chemists in modern laboratories.” Voigt’s papers are housed in the museum’s Archives Center, Collection #ACNMAH 1195, “Walter H. Voigt Brewing Industry Collection, 1935-1967.”
Currently not on view
National Museum of American History
Credit Line
Walter Voigt
overall: 17 in x 13 1/2 in x 1/2 in; 43.18 cm x 34.29 cm x 1.27 cm
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Work and Industry: Food Technology
Industry & Manufacturing
Object Name
tray, beer
ID Number
catalog number
accession number