Editor's note: This series highlights pieces from local antique stores, businesses and collectors. Have a suggestion for a featured item? Email Jasmine at jrjohnson@echopress.com.

Entering Bud’s Barn Antiques in Parkers Prairie means emerging into a floor-to-ceiling blast from the past.

Owner Richard Loveland directed his attention to an Alexandria brewing tray. The copyright date printed on the tray dates to 1904, 16 years before prohibition.

It was produced by the Meek Company as a factory production tray, and Loveland only knows of one other locally labelled piece owned by another area collector.

The Meek Company produced items such as signs and trays as promotional materials for companies, brands and products. Breweries were among the interested industries.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The tray company owned the rights to the image, but the names of different businesses could be added once the trays were sold to local breweries.

These trays could have various designs and images, but the one Loveland has shows three men taking a lunch break together and drinking beer.

Loveland said he’s seen a few other small Minnesota towns that have trays similar to this, such as Jordan and Hastings. He’s also stumbled across the exact tray without any sort of labeling.

Loveland has owned the tray for around 30 years, which he originally found at a convention in Red Wing, Minn. He handed over a check to pay for a different item, and the top left corner showed his Parkers Prairie address. Once the seller saw Loveland’s local connection, he pulled out the Alexandria brewing tray to see if he would be interested.

Loveland said the price was a little higher than he wanted, but he bought it anyway because he knew it was rare.

The image at the center of an Alexandria Brewing Company tray “The Workingman’s Friend,” shows three men drinking beer at their lunch break. Around the thin, tan lining, the tray’s copyright reads 1904 and the piece is labeled “12 o’clock.” (Jasmine Johnson / Echo Press)
The image at the center of an Alexandria Brewing Company tray “The Workingman’s Friend,” shows three men drinking beer at their lunch break. Around the thin, tan lining, the tray’s copyright reads 1904 and the piece is labeled “12 o’clock.” (Jasmine Johnson / Echo Press)

Now sitting in his shop, Loveland situated the 1904 brewing tray on a stand on top of the brewing barrel, which was previously displayed at Yesterdays in Alexandria.

Next to those two items, two Alexandria Gold Seal Beer cases were displayed. One had been cleaned and refurbished when Loveland purchased it, while the other still had most of a red, Gopher Beer sticker visible.

Once the Alexandria Brewing Company was established, the new Gold Seal beer was introduced in 1935.

Lined up in a row on top of the brewing cases, four brewery bottles were situated.

Sam’s Premium Triple ‘A’ Beer was a private label brewed and bottled in Alexandria.

Next to that, a punch code could be distinguished on the label of a Gopher Beer bottle. This particular brew was new in 1939.

Loveland noted that the punch code would have been placed by the revenue department at the time the bottle was distributed, and he’s found that there are few with original labels like this remaining.

The final two bottles in the array of brewery memorabilia Loveland organized near the register of his store were from other small breweries in Minnesota: Viking Lager Beer from Fergus Falls and Kiewel’s Picnic Beer from Little Falls.

Dave and Lola Anderson sent in a photo of this beer case that has been passed down in the Anderson family for generations. The Rudolph Wegener Brewery was open from 1876 to 1902. (Submitted)
Dave and Lola Anderson sent in a photo of this beer case that has been passed down in the Anderson family for generations. The Rudolph Wegener Brewery was open from 1876 to 1902. (Submitted)