Hamms memorabilia includes collectible breweriana relating to Hamms brewery – a former American brewery in St Paul, Minnesota. Hamms memorabilia includes collectible beer steins, bar signage, ash trays, and items featuring, or modelled on, Hamms’ mascot, the Hamms beer bear.
Hamm's was established in 1865 when Theodore Hamm, a German immigrant, inherited the Excelsior Brewery from his friend and business associate, A. F. Keller. Keller had constructed his brewery over artesian wells in a section of the Phalen Creek valley in St. Paul, Minnesota known as Swede Hollow. Hamm hired Christopher Figg to be his masterbrewer, and by the 1880s the Theo. Hamm Brewing Company was reckoned the second largest in Minnesota.
His son, William, and grandson, William Jr. inherited the operation in 1903. During Prohibition, the company survived by producing soft drinks and other food products, enabling it to expand rapidly through acquisitions after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.
In 1968 the company was acquired by Heublein, which sold it to Olympia Brewing Company. Pabst then purchased Olympia along with Hamm's in 1983. Miller Brewing acquired the brand in 1999. Miller was later purchased by South African Breweries and the name changed to SABMiller. Subsequently, SABMiller formed a joint venture combining their US and Puerto Rican assets with those of MolsonCoors to form MillerCoors, the current owner and brewer of the Hamm's Brand. MillerCoors now produces three Hamm's Beers, Premium, Golden Draft, and Special Light.
Hamms is most famous, not for the company's beverages, but for its advertising jingle and its mascot, the Hamm's Beer bear.
The original jingle, with lyrics by Nelle Richmond Eberhart and music by Charles Wakefield Cadman was derived from a 1909 art song entitled "From The Land of Sky-Blue Water." It was first used on radio and later on television. It started with tom-tom drums, then a chorus intoned (partial lyrics):
From the Land of Sky Blue Waters,
From the land of pines' lofty balsams,
Comes the beer refreshing,
Hamm's the beer refreshing.
Hamms beer bear
Even more famous than the jingle was the Hamm's beer bear. The Hamms beer bear was incorporated into the first campaign produced by the Campbell Mithun advertising agency, which sought to emphasize the supposedly superior cleanliness and naturalness of Hamm's beer owing to its clear water and production in pristine Minnesota, the "enchanted Northland."
The first television commercial depicted animated beavers beating their tails to the tom-tom beat of the jingle, as well as live action shots of the forests and lakes of the "enchanted Northland." The second, produced in 1952, introduced the clumsy dancing black-and-white cartoon beer bear (actually named "Sascha"), which proved so popular it was used for the next three decades.
The beer bear and other woodland creatures were present at many major sporting events as Hamm's was the beer sponsor of the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and Minnesota Twins in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The most coveted items among collectors are Hamm's Beer neon signs and scenoramas from the 1950s and 1960s.
Hamm's scenoramas come in two sizes: small (approximately 3 feet wide) and large (approximately 5 feet wide) and are known for their rotating mechanisms, though some are non-moving. Every hutch-like scenorama has a dark brown "roof" which has been decorated to resemble shingles, and which sits above the scene. These (often scrolling) advertisements also feature clocks.
Scenorama images commonly feature pastoral lake-side scenes, smouldering camp fires, canoes, and flowing waterfalls.
"Ripplers" were produced in 1956 and 1965. The 1956 version of this sign is colloquially called the "TV Box Rippler" as the scenic image is housed inside a frame that resembles a 1950s television set.
A sunrise/sunset scenorama features a view of a large lake from a wood-framed porch. The area of sky above the lake appears to change from day to night. (Versions of this sign include one with a quartet of goblets positioned above the Hamm's logo and another with a small clock in the same spot.)
Signs depicting "Hamm's Beer" in a round, white logo panel are significantly rarer than signs featuring "Hamm's Beer" in the typical square logo form.
Commemorative and celebratory beer steins were often released by Hamm's: a formal centenary stein was offered for sale in 1965, for example, and lidded steins featuring Sascha the bear were created for Octoberfest and Saint Patrick's Day.
A Brazillian company called Ceramarte made many of these ceramic steins, as well as salt and pepper shakers and ceramic ashtrays. More ornate are the lidded, high relief steins from the 1980s, made in Germany by Gerz.
When a German immigrant named Theodore Hamm purchased the Excelsior Brewery in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1865, he probably couldn't have imagined that 100 years later a cartoon bear named Sascha would be more highly regarded than the liquid produced by his namesake brewery.
But while the brewery was transferred from owner to owner (Heublein, Olympia, Pabst, and Stroh’s have all taken their turns managing Hamm's), Sascha endured until only recently, when its current owner, Miller Brewing, dropped the mascot in order to head off charges that it was marketing its products to children.
Thanks to Sascha, today Hamm’s is quite famous for its collectibles. The most prized items of Hamm’s breweriana are the signs that were made for taverns and bars, particularly the motorized Scenorama signs (spelled, variously, as Scene-o-Rama, Scenarama, and Scenerama) made by Lakeside Plastics of Minneapolis in the early 1960s.
Large Scenoramas measure more than five feet across and feature working clocks—some feature scenic photographs of lakes and streams whose surfaces appear to be moving, others do not. Smaller, three-feet-wide Scenoramas of the same era come in moving and non-moving versions as well.
Ripplers were produced in 1956 and 1965. The earlier version of this sign is often called the TV Box Rippler because the scenic is housed in a frame that resembles a 1950s television set. The 1965 Rippler was made for the brewery’s 100th anniversary and features a tumbling waterfall on the left panel, a shimmering lake on the right, and a 3D Hamm’s logo in the center.
Other vintage Hamm’s beer signs include the Starry Skies and Blinking Mugs signs, which are bordered on one side by the edge of a home constructed of either paper or plastic bricks. The version of this sign with a moon on the horizon is the most rare example. The Sunrise/Sunset sign features a view of a lake from a wood-framed porch—the light on the lake and in the sky above it appears to change from day to night. Versions of this sign include one with a quartet of goblets above the Hamm’s logo and another with a small clock in the same spot.
Finally there was a Flipper Barrel sign (images in a horizontal beer barrel rotate as an internal mechanism flipped them) and there were several plastic signs of either a skating Sascha or the bear sitting in an inner tube in the snow.
Like Budweiser and scores of other brewers, Hamm’s produced beer steins for its fans. A rather formal 100th anniversary stein was offered for sale in 1965, but many more, such as those created in the early 1970s to celebrate Oktoberfest (these were lidded) and St. Patrick’s Day, featured Sascha prominently.
A Brazilian company called Ceramarte made many of these ceramic steins, as well as salt-and-pepper shakers around the same time. More ornate are the lidded, high-relief steins from the 1980s made in Germany by a company called Gerz.
- A Hamm's Beer neon sign was sold for $5,750 by R M auctions in Indiana, Jun 2006.
- A Hamm's double roller sign was sold for $850 by Shultz Auctioneers in Minnesota, February 2007.
- A Hamm's merchandising calendar was sold for $800 by Shultz Auctioneers in Minnesota, February 2007
- A Hamm's Beer light up, motion sign was sold for $500 by Victorian Casino Antiques in Las Vegas, October 2012.
- A pair of Sascha salt and pepper shakers with matching ceramic teepee was sold for $50 by Woody Auction, September 2010.