Morphy’s to auction premier Adolf Grenke breweriana, beer can collection, Sept. 21-22 On Sept. 21-22, Morphy Auctions will offer the remarkable 40-year breweriana collection of Adolf Grenke. It includes 500 rare beer cans, 400 beer taps and many scarce and beautiful advertising signs.
News-Antique.com - Sep 14,2012 - DENVER, Pa. – The convivial atmosphere of a century-old corner tavern welcomes visitors to Morphy’s southeastern Pennsylvania gallery in the run-up to the big Sept. 21-22 sale of Adolf Grenke’s breweriana and beer can collection. More than 40 years in the making, the approximately 4,000-piece Grenke collection will be sold in its entirety and without reserve over the course of the two-day event.
At the core of the remarkable single-owner collection – which also includes 400 beer taps and a selection of advertising signs, artwork and promotional items – are some 500 antique and vintage beer cans, many of which are exceedingly rare. “A few key examples are expected to exceed $50,000 each,” said Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy.
A former plastics industry executive and president of an elevator company, Grenke became aware of beer cans as a collectible in 1972 after his wife took their two young sons to an educational lecture sponsored by the parks department in his suburban Chicago neighborhood.
“The fellow making the presentation was a Meister Brau salesman. He was there to encourage kids to collect beer cans and even handed out sample cans,” Grenke recalled. But it wasn’t until later, while on a family vacation in Texas, that Grenke himself caught the collecting bug.
“We were on our way to the Alamo when one of my sons spotted beer cans on the side of the road near a golf course. I was all dressed up, but we pulled over, and soon I was in the mud pulling up beer cans right along with my sons,” Grenke said with a laugh.
After a few years of collecting and watching the prices escalate on vintage cans, Grenke joined the BCCA and Worldwide Beer Can Collectors, which he knew would open doors to a much wider network of collectors through club meetings and conventions. He became known as a serious buyer who would pay the price to own the rarest cans, but ironically, he only rarely drank beer.
Grenke’s collection includes many cans chosen for inclusion in top reference books because they were the best of all known examples. “Adolf was always a condition collector,” Morphy said. “Whenever a new book on beer cans was in the works, invariably the author and photographer would end up at Adolf’s home.”
Grenke’s favorite cans include a rare Apache Export can from Arizona – a very desirable low-profile cone-top can with Native American imagery. It is one of only five or six known and is expected to make $25,000-$35,000 at auction. Grenke also favors an olive drab Peter Hand Meister Brau can that is the only known example of its type. “During World War II, Meister Brau sent their beer overseas to US soldiers,” Grenke said. “As far as anyone knows, this is the sole survivor.” It is estimated at $12,000-$18,000.
Morphy’s enlisted the services of noted breweriana expert Dan Morean of www.breweriana.com to appraise and catalog the beer can portion of the sale. Morean, who has bought and sold