NEON SIGNS - Background
Neon signs, first called neon lamps, were developed by Georges Claude and first appeared in 1910 at the Paris Motor Show. They consisted of luminous gas-discharge tubes containing rarefied neon and usually other gases. However, they weren't used in the U.S. until 1923. Therefore, there weren't any American neon beer signs pre-Prohibition and the earliest ones were in the 1930s after Prohibition was repealed. Neon Beer Signs that hung in the windows of bars and taverns were once a quintessential part of brewery advertising. It was common for some drinking establishments to have several different beer signs in their windows to help attract business. Neon beer signs became very popular throughout the 1940s and 1950s. However, their popularity declined in the1960s. Shown in chronological order are an assortment of Bavarian Brewing Co. neon signs.
Note: If you have any images of earlier neon signs from Bavarian Brewery, or not depicted below, please let us know.
1937. This neon sign for Bavarian Beer was made by Lackner using uranium glass. According to the label, the patent for the sign was no. 1,859,319 and the date made was in February, 1937. This was less than two years after the Bavarian Brewing Co. reopened after Prohibition and just several months before the firm went into receivership and was sold to the Schott Brothers. This is one of the oldest Bavarian Brewing Co. neon signs, which at that time, referred to its "Bavarian Beer" without the apostrophe s ('s), which wasn't used until 1946. Image and sign information is courtesy of David Green and CincySigns.
Circa 1942: This neon "spinner sign" on the right made by Neon Works was for the new owners of Bavarian Brewing Co. beginning in 1938, the Schott Brothers. Their names as owners and operators of the brewery are noted on the bottom of the sign. Spinner signs are unusual and this one for Bavarian Beer is rare. In order to view the image in motion, in both light and in the dark, please click here. Image and sign information is courtesy of David Green and CincySigns.
Circa 1942 - 1946: This sign\apparently came from the Cincinnati area and is believed to be from Bavarian Brewing Co. However, there were also other brewers that had a Bavarian (Type) Beer, such as the Mt. Carbon Brewery in Pottsville, PA, which may have had similar signs, and could possibly even be responsible for this particular sign.
Circa 1946-1948. When the Bavarian's Old Style brand started to be used in 1946, it is believed that these earlier signs may have been two color signs using red and blue, as shown be the examples below. Ironically, "neon" signs are often not made with neon but with argon gas, mercury, CO2 and phosphorous coated tubes to create about 150 colors. Neon itself only creates the color red. In the example with Bavarian's signs below, the blue is from mercury.
Circa 1949 - 1956. the most common Bavarian's Old Style signs were three color signs using yellow, white and blue, as shown below. The color yellow used in all of these signs is from helium. Sometimes the lettering changed to italic and on draft was added. There were also some color variations depicted on the last two images in the group below, and one of these indicate an alcohol content of 6%.
Mostly 1957 - 1960. Besides neon signs for Bavarian's Old Style Beer, neons were also made when Bavarian Brewing Co. modified the brand name to Bavarian's Select Beer and included a three flag design beginning in 1957. It's believed most of these neons were made before the brewery sold to IBI in 1959. That's because IBI seemed to prefer using backlit signs and neon signs were becoming our of favor starting around 1960. However, it's possible that neon signs with this design could have been made as late as 1966, the year the Bavarain Brewery closed.