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'Breweriana' exhibit running at Coshocton museum

Published: July 8, 2017 5:00 AM

COSHOCTON -- Preserving the History of the American Brewing Industry will be at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum June 24-Sept. 24 in Coshocton. The exhibit portrays America's brewing past through industry packaging and advertising over the past 130 years. The term "Breweriana" refers to any article containing a brewery name or brand name, particularly collectibles. Hundreds of breweries will be represented by a wide array of objects from tin signs and trays to cans, bottles, coasters and taps. Most of the breweries are long gone, but visitors will recognize the names of the cities and small towns where they once thrived.

Imagine a time when many towns (and all cities) had their own brewery, and you'll have an idea of the diversity of places and brands represented in the show. Typically, breweries were located near rivers and canals to allow transportation of both raw materials and finished beer. Take a look at just one river in Ohio, the Tuscarawas, which begins in southern Summit County and continues through Stark, Tuscarawas and Coshocton Counties, eventually adding to the Mississippi. While only 130 miles in length, 27 breweries used it or its adjacent canal for transportation. You'll see on display photos, signs, and trays from many of these breweries, such as Giessen & Bakers Brewery (Canton), The Massillon Brewing Co., Dover Brewery and The Tuscarawas Valley Brewing Company (Niles).

Coshocton County is eminently suited to host such an extensive and unique display of brewing advertising. The specialty advertising industry was launched in Coshocton in 1884. It began when newspaper man Jasper Meek made use of his steam printing press to lithograph a shoe store ad onto a burlap school bag. Only a few years later (1890), Henry Beach, Meek's competitor, developed a process to lithograph on metal signs using a steam press, a first worldwide. As a result, Coshocton became the center of advertising art in America and perhaps, for a time, in the world. By the turn of the 20th century, there were more artists living in Coshocton than in any other American city, barring New York. They were creating images for signs and trays, most of which advertised breweries or beer from all over the United States and even Europe. After prohibition was enacted in 1920, a number of companies went out of business; others survived by switching to advertising soda or making calendars. The Meek Company, renamed American Art Works, became known for its Coca Cola trays.

The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum also has four permanent galleries: The American Indian Gallery displays prehistoric tools and points and 19th century basketry and beadwork. The Historic Ohio Gallery includes local history, a hands-on area for children, an impressive firearms display, and an advertising art display (including the printing press Jasper Meek used for the first articles of advertising art). In the Asian Gallery, Chinese and Japanese sculpture, decorative arts and weaponry are displayed. The Golden Gallery features a World War I display, a Victorian nook and the Newark Holy Stones.

The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum is open daily from noon-5 p.m. The museum is at 300 N. Whitewoman St., in Historic Roscoe Village, Coshocton. A restored canal-era town located along the former Ohio & Erie Canal, Roscoe Village offers many attractions. Costumed interpreters lead tours through the restored buildings and numerous shops are situated within the village. For more information, contact the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum at 740-622-8710 or visit its website, jhmuseum@jhmuseum.org.


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