Guinness collectibles & memorabilia
Guinness is an Irish dry stout, and one of the most successful beer brands in the world. Advertising memorabilia related to the brand is a popular area of collectibles.Background
The Guinness company was founded in Dublin by Arthur Guinness, and produced ales from 1759. The first ales were exported to Great Britain in 1769.
A century later in the 1870s, the company’s sales soared. This was despite the fact that the brewery refused to advertise, and did not own any public houses. Remarkably, Guinness rose to prominence without employing any marketing whatsoever.
The company produced a dark porter beer, a single stout and a double stout. They also produced extra stout and foreign stout for exports. They stopped producing porter in the 1970s, and focused on improving Guinness Extra Stout.
The Guinness logo is a harp, modelled on the Brian Boru harp of Trinity College Dublin. It has been applied to the drink since 1862. Harps are an ancient symbol of Ireland, so the presence of this logo accentuates the Irishness of the stout.
The Guinness company barely employed any advertising or marketing until the early 1900s. In the face of falling sales, they began to advertise and merchandise around this time.
The 1920s saw Guinness run an advertising campaign ‘Guinness is Good for You’. This was based on research that suggested people felt good after drinking the stout. Advertising for alcoholic drinks that implies medical benefits or improved physicality is now banned in Ireland, so these vintage advertisements are very much of their time.
The 1930s and 1940s saw the most recognisable series of Guinness adverts, created by advertising company S.H. Benson and most drawn by artist John Gilroy. These posters and other advertisements bore slogans such as: ‘Guinness for Strength’, ‘Lovely Day for a Guinness’, ‘Guinness makes you Strong’, ‘My Goodness My Guinness’, as well as the standard ‘Guinness is Good for you’. Gilroy’s artwork on the posters is distinctive. He often featured animals, such as a kangaroo, an ostrich, a seal, a lion, and most famously a toucan which as a result became as synonymous with Guinness as the harp. This advertising campaign was incredibly successful, and original copies of these advertisements are very sought after by collectors.
A more recent campaign was inspired by the fact that the perfect pint of Guinness takes almost two minutes to pour. Guinness extols this lengthy practice with the slogan: ‘good things come to those who wait’.
Collectible items of memorabilia
- Advertising signs in the Irish language
- Guinness pastiche booklets, illustrated by Ronald Ferns
- Original John Gilroy Guinness advertisements
- Guinness glasses
- Guinness calendars
- Guinness beer mats
- Vintage Guinness cans and bottles
- Carlton Ware Guinness toucan lamps
- Guinness St Patrick’s Day countdown clocks
Guinness is a symbol of Ireland the world over, and many Irish expats, or Americans and Europeans proud of their Irish heritage, are nostalgic and drawn to this icon of the home country.
The Guinness pint glass was redesigned in April 2010 for the first time ever. This may be a good time to harvest the old pint glasses, as they will soon be phased out and could later become collector’s items.
Reproduced and forged Guinness memorabilia is rife, so collectors must take care when purchasing collectibles from an unknown source.
Guinness memorabilia can be found at garage sales, car boot sales, flea markets, on websites such as eBay, and at auction.
- Vintage Guinness ale can, sold for $2,500 at Morphy Auctions in 2012.
- Vintage Guinness advertising poster ‘After Work Guinness’ by Tom Eckersley, sold for $1,100 at Swann Auction Galleries in 2004.
- Vintage Guinness poster ‘My Goodness My Guinness’ with ostrich by John Gilroy, sold for £600 at Bonhams in 2005.