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G is for Greater New York Brewery: (Sept/2011) This brewery holding company canned a variety of brands, including the colorful trio of New Yorker Beer, Ale, and Half and Half cans. A detailed history on Greater New York Brewery is at Rustycans.com by Mark Benbow, Ph.D. under his topic, "Can of the Month" - Lion Ale.
Of the breweries bought by Greater New York around 1940, only the former Lion Brewery bought in May, 1941 had had a flat top canning line. In less than a year, that brewery location was closed in the first part of 1942.
(Ernie Oest was not able to photograph this brewery building, as it was torn down in the 1940's). If the New Yorker cans were filled at the former Lion Brewery location, then the short operating interval is the easiest explanation why these cans are very scarce in on-grade condition and in lesser grades.
-----New Yorker can examples:
----On grade examples:
---The Class Book (1982) by Jeffrey Cameron shows a trio of New Yorker cans, Ale, Beer, and Half and Half. These cans still have their original top lids, on which their brand names have been printed - an unusual feature for beer cans in general - and are pictured above. The provenance for these cans is in the following section, "The Class Book trio of New Yorkers."
---In the mid-1980's Paul Michel and Dick Caughey (BCCA #21090) bought a collection on Long Island, and in it were a number of early cans, many with their top lids cut off, including the three New Yorker brands. They heard the cans had been collected by a "musician in the Bronx" - that man would be another in a small group known today, who might be called "original collectors".
---In the early 1980's Harvey Lambert, an active Los Angeles collector from the mid 1970's to around 1990, found flat sheets of at least the New Yorker Beer and Half and Half (along with a Buckingham Ale, and maybe a Golden Rod.)
Likely other examples are around, and in a starting survey of on-grade New Yorker cans currently in collections, Marc Tracy BCCA #27810 knows of three all-original Half and Half cans; at least two Ales and 2-3 Beers, along with several rolled examples for the Beer and Half and Half brands.
----Lesser grade examples:
---New Yorker Ale:
A rare can to dig and Dave Lang's view in February, 2011 (BCCA #83 who writes one of the BCCA magazine's highlight columns, "Beer Can Archeology":
"As to the Ale and Half and Half, if any of us ever dug one of either of those, it would represent one of the all-time great finds regardless of condition. IMO, better than even a Rosalie find."
Marc Tracy knows of 3 or 4 or more New Yorker Ale "rub outs" that were overprinted with a Ruppert brand.
---New Yorker Beer:
A limited number of the Beers reportedly have been dug in at least five states, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland ("Greenbelt dump"). Also some "inside" but grade 1-/2+, examples have turned up, such as several on ebay during 2008-10.
---New Yorker Half and Half:
Apparently only a very limited number of these have been dug.
---- The Class Book trio of New Yorkers - the provenance for this New Yorker Ale goes back to the 1975 BCCA book; and for the New Yorker Beer and Half and Half, to a collector who had stopped collecting in 1951.
--- New Yorker Ale:
---In the U.S. Guide to Beer Cans (1975) by BCCA, a New Yorker Ale and a New Yorker Half and Half are pictured. Based upon an identifying pattern of small nicks at the top of the New Yorker Ale, Marc Tracy and others have seen the same pattern of nicks on the example pictured later in Ressel's BCU (1976), Jack Martel's Bible (1976). and The Class Book (1982).
The collector who provided the Ale for the picture in the 1975 BCCA book isn't known widely known currently, but maybe the largest grouping of early cans that was a source of pictures for that book, was a collection bought by three St. Louis area collectors in the early 1970's. Bob McClure (BCCA #104) says three former BCCA members, Henry Herbst, Robert Eckert, and Hal Leeker together bought a collection from an "Eastern non-collector" that, very unusually, included over 90 quarts (all of which were pictured in the 1975 BCCA book, including the Peroni and Lion Ale qts.) and a number of 12 oz. cans. These three collectors were known to have generously contributed their time and cans from their collections for pictures in this first book showing many beer cans.
In the 1980 Garard Collection only had a New Yorker Ale and New Yorker Half and Half (click for page in the Garard Collection Sale listing New Yorker Ale and Half and Half). Those two cans are noted with "CP" - the indication used in sales catalog to note cans that have been pictured in BCU and Jack Martel's Bible; also an estimate was given that "2" examples of each were known at that time.
--- New Yorker Beer, Half and Half:
Per Norm Meier (BCCA #30555), the New Yorker Beer and the New Yorker Half and Half cans pictured in the Class Book were in the collection of John Paul (former BCCA #42) in Cincinnati, who had an extensive collection of older cans. Norm Meier visited John Paul many times in the 1970's and saw the two New Yorker brands.
--- With the above New Yorker Ale, together with the New Yorker Beer and Half and Half that had been in John Paul's collection, this trio of New Yorker brands for the first time was pictured in a beer can book, The Class Book (1982). (Slightly earlier, the trio had been assembled by one collector.)
Around 1985, the Class Book trio of New Yorkers was bought by Harvey Lambert. Not long after, around 1986 at a Showboat Casino show in Las Vegas, several collectors who were there, such as Tom Leo, Glenn Hintz, and Gene DiCicco, recall that Harvey was offering the trio for sale. The trio was bought by Dave Stark at that show, and he held them until selling his collection in late 2007.
---Numbers on the bottom lids of New Yorker cans: These numbers are likely dates, and look similar to numbers seen on Lion Brewery cans, which is an indication that the New Yorker cans were filled at the former Lion Brewery.
--Class Book trio have these numbers on their bottom lids:
Beer 42 86; Ale, 412?5 (the "?" might be a 9); Half and Half, 41309
--The New Yorker Half and Half that is thought to have been in the Garard Collection is likely the example bought in 1981 by a mid-western collector who currently still has that can and these numbers are on bottom lid:
Neither the Ale nor the Half and Half, that are thought to be from the Garard Collection have stickers, but those were likely left off to show numbers on the bottom lids while also allowing the unusual printed brand names to show on the top lids.
----John Paul and his collection in Cincinnati: At the 1972 Geneva Canvention, John Paul's group of cans won the "Overall Display" award. Though he had many rarer 1930-40's cans, apparently none of his cans was pictured in any of the first three major beer can books, 1975 Guide by BCCA, BCU, or Jack Martel's Bible, since John Paul's name isn't listed as a contributor of cans for the pictures shown.
In the Spring of 1981, John Paul sold his cans and then a number were pictured in The Class Book. The buyer asked John where many of the older cans were found, and helpfully has passed on the background John gave:
Most of the better 1930's-1940's cans were part of a collection that was located in Akron, Ohio. John said that the cans had been collected by a man who had "worked in advertising" and lived in New York City - then retired to Akron.
(This information gives more details than John Paul wrote in a short article in the December, 1971 BCCA magazine, in which he said he had gotten a lead from a customer in his print shop about a beer can collection. With his wife, they made a "568" mile drive and "brought home 170 very beautiful mint condition beer cans!". The collector had been a man who had passed away by that time, and who had "stopped saving beer cans in 1951.")
A collector who lived in New York City, and then in Ohio, explains how that group of cans included early New York cans such as the New Yorker Beer, New Yorker Half and Half, two McSorley's Ales, etc., along with many Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania cans.
---Two other collectors who recall being in touch with John Paul.
At Geneva Canvention Bob McClure (BCCA #104) saw that John had two McSorley's Ales:
"I showed him a group of cans for trade and offered John his pick of several cans for his extra McSorley's Ale - John picked five Dreher Forte sports cans and we made the trade."
After also first meeting John Paul at the Geneva Canvention, Bob Myers (BCCA #26) visited John several times in Cincinnati and saw his collection:
"John was known as 'Paul the Printer' and kept his beer can collection in his print shop on Depot St. below Price Hill. When entering, what was seen first to the left was a most unusual 'collection' - nailed to the wall was a large mass of McDonald's cups, plates, wrappers, clam shells for hamburgers, etc."
"Then farther along the wall, past a divider, was John's beer can collection with most of the older cans being in top shape. Besides the two different New Yorkers and a McSorley's Ale, were many early Ohio and Western Pennsylvania flats and cones, John Bull, Carnegie low profiles, etc.. From Michigan, there were three very little known cones at the time, E & B Ale, Phoenix, and I think there was an E &B Special - a very scarce cone before c1976 when several thousand were found in warehouse. Several trades were made, such as John wanted a 16oz. Soul Malt Liquor, which was exchanged for one of his top shape POC blue cones."
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