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COM: January 2009

Acme Steingirl Can: 1947-1950

Acme Steingirl can. Acme Steingirl can. Acme Steingirl can.

I've gotten several emails about this can, so I thought I'd feature it as a Can of the Month.  It's an Acme Beer from California, a brewery I discussed in February 2005.

Acme was one of the first California breweries to can their beer, but they used a different label on their can than on their bottles.  In 1939 Acme redesigned their beer can, abandoning the black, red and silver can for a more multi-colored can--now nicknamed the "Stein Girl" can--which was based on the label their bottled beer had been using since 1934. 

The first Steingirl cans were made by American Can Company and so have the company's "Keglined" panel on the side.  Acme had been using cans made by Pacific Can Company and soon returned to Pacific as their supplier.  As a result, the "keglined" variation is not as common as the Pacific Can.

Acme announced a "name the can contest" in June 1940 with a big newspaper campaign with first prize being $1,000 in cash.  That's over $10,000 in 2009 dollars.  The contest was judged by Professor Lloyd D. Herrold of Northwestern University.  Herald wrote Advertising Copy Principles and Practice (1926) and was a nationally known expert on advertising at what is now the Kellogg School of Marketing at Northwestern. 

Acme Steingirl contest ad. Acme Steingirl contest ad.

August and September contest ads (click each to see a larger version)

The contest ran for four months, from June through September, with prizes being given each month.   I have not been able to find the winning entry.  The contest apparently was successful as sale increased and over 81,000 contest entries were sent in.  In 1941 Pacific Can and Acme ran another contest asking contestants to compete the sentence "The new Marvel-Lined Can is a perfect container for Acme Beer and Ale because...."  Prizes included three Pontiac four-door Torpedo's.

1941 Pontiac.
A 1941 Pontiac "Torpedo" 4-door.

The "Red B" design was used from 1939-1942. From 1942-1947 cans  were reserved for beer intended for the US military (in 1944-1946 they were even painted olive-drab)  In 1947 cans were again available for civilian use and it was around this time that the "Black B" design came into use. 

The Red B design compared to the Black B design.

Red B detail. Black B detail.
The "red B" can, with the men drinking beer in the background.  The later, "black B" design is less cluttered and the waitress is less 1930's looking.

Acme used this design until the Spring of 1950 when they switched to a completely new label, a yellow can with a white "foamy" top that was designed to look like a glass of beer.

Acme Yellow can. This is one of the Acme yellow cans. There are numerous variations from both the LA and San Francisco breweries.  This version is one of the later ones.

Steingirl Variations

There are several variations of the Steingirl can. Here are the ones of which I am aware.

Red  or Black "B"
City
USBC Notes
Red
Los Angeles 28-24  
Red
San Francisco 29-5 "pale face girl"
Red
San Francisco 29-6 "orange faced girl"
Red
Los Angeles
(Vernon)
NL "keglined'
Red
    "withdrawn free" RARE
Red
San Francisco NL 3.2% RARE
Black
Los Angeles 28-25  
Black
Los Angeles 28-26  
Black
San Francisco 29-7 "withdrawn free" rolled
Black
San Francisco 29-8  
Black
Los Angeles
(Vernon)
28-27 Non-IRTP, scarce.
Black
San Francisco 29-9 Non-IRTP, scarce
Olive Drab
San Francisco 29-4 WWII military, scarce.

Postscript:

In 1975 the Blitz-Weinhard company of Portland, Oregon, reissued Acme Beer in a can that recreated the old Steingirl label.  It was named the BCCA's "Can of the Year" for that year. The label was designed to look like the Pre-Prohibition Acme label.

1970s Acme.

Sources Used

Thanks to the Rusty Bunch members who have been answering my questions on this can!

"Acme Label Lists Ingredients" Modern Brewery Age (November 1950)

"New Acme Can" Modern Brewery Age (June 1950)

"Pacific Can Company and Acme Breweries Cooperate in Contest" Brewers Journal (May 15, 1941)

Wolpe, Fred "The Acme" Rustlings (August 1985)

 

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