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COM: June 2014

Gunther Bock Variations: 1950s

Gunther Bock. Gunther Bock side.

This month I want to look at a common type of variation using one of my favorite cans, a Gunther Bock from the 1950s.

2 Gunthers.

Here are the two bock cans. At first glance they are the same. But they are slightly different variations. The goat on the left is a bit more brown than the other, and the lettering is a different shade of brown. The goat on the right is a bit more yellow and the lettering is a bit more black than brown. The word "Premium" on the can at right has yellow highlighting as well, which the can on the left does not.

Neither is rare, although I searched for a couple years to find the one on the right, the lighter version. I found a lot of the darker brown lettered ones, but finally got ahold of the lighter version at the Richbrau Chapter show in July 2015. I am not sure that I went through enough of them to say I had a valid sample size. So for now I am going to say that while neither is rare, the lighter version seems to be harder to find than the darker one.

So, what caused this variation? Usually when you see color differences like this it's because of one of the following reasons. Which one applies here?

1. The cans were made by two different can companies, and they used slightly different shades of paint.

Nope, both cans were made by American Can Company.

2. The cans were made by the same company, but at different plants.

No. according to the code by the seam, both were made in American Can's New York plant.

3. They were made in different year, so either they changed the paint used, or redid the design.

Again, no. According to the date code, both were made in 1953.

4. It's not a real variation, but the paint on one changed color due to exposure to the environment.

No, the difference also shows up on cans in very good condition, not just on outdoor dumpers like mine.

So why the difference? There are a couple possibilities I can think of. The two cans may simply have been made with different batches of paint. Another intriguing possibility is that Gunther didn't like one color combination, and asked for a change. If this were the case, than I suspect they changed from the lighter version to the darker one. Why? I have two reasons. First, the lighter version is not as common as the darker one. This suggests the lighter version was a short run. I think it's more likely that the brewery would ask for a change earlier in the production process than later. Why bother making such a subtle change if the order was almost finished? Second: the darker version matches the paper labels I've seen.

How could we be sure, short of reading the files from either company, Gunther or the American Can Company? If I could check the labels on Gunther Bock cans made after 1953 to see which design they used, I'd be more certain. If the later cans were all one variation then we could be fairly certain that these variations were due to a design change. However, if the same two variations show up on later cans as well, then it's likely just a difference in paint batches. Time to check more cans!

At any rate, the color differences are not huge and most collectors would be satisfied having one of the two. But since I really like Gunther's, I try to collect these small variations, at least for this one brand.

Sources Used

Thanks to Bock expert Jim Romine for the info. And thanks to "SeaMonkey" for the second can!


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