Home Graphica Wish You Were Beer! Plastered Postcards from a Bygone Era

Wish You Were Beer! Plastered Postcards from a Bygone Era



Please, God, just grant me these three lousy wishes. (1947)

What do you bet that if God did answer this guy’s prayer, the greedy bastard would moan, “What, no basketball-sized peanuts?”

Don’t taunt a fat man with power. (1952)

This card might seem a gentle holiday offering, but if we dig deeper we find a cruel tableau. Examine Santa’s expression:  it is not the face of a man who is about to enjoy a nice frothy Falstaff, it is the sullen mien of a man who is no longer allowed to drink. And note that he is walking away from the tree with a full bag of gifts. In the morning the family will absorb a powerful lesson: Don’t mess with the Man in the Red Suit.

Feloniously delicious. (1906)

In 1906, the Byrrh aperitif distillery held a contest for the best advertising postcards for their “Hygienic Tonic”. Many starving artists of the day participated and, quite apparently, brought some of their own personal experiences to bear.


So good you’ll guzzle it right outta the basket. (1906)

Another contest winner, this postcard eschews the usual dainty sipping from a tiny glass for a full-throated pull. You want the full benefit of Byrrh’s fabulous Hygienic Tonic? Guzzle it! He can already feel his heart getting stronger. Where’s that cop now? He’ll run the fucker right into the ground.


Fifty percent of goat cart accidents are alcohol related. (1913)

MADD would have had a field day with this one. Though the ad seems perfectly innocent to me, I’m certain they would claim it not only encourages moms to take the kids out drinking, but to let them steer carts pulled by goats that have obviously had more than a few themselves. The horror!

In your face, dad. (1911)

The caption on the back of the card reads: “Sonny thinks he can beat Dad.” Well, maybe he can. Judging from the angle of the bottles, I think he’s going to take down the old man.


Extra innings. (1933)

And how. The childlike, yet obviously well-educated gentleman settles down to a feast of donuts and hooch a half century before Homer Simpson reinvented the fad. Not even the size of the enormous tab in the second waitress’s hand seems to daunt our cherubic scholar

Sneaky communist propaganda. (1935)

This Lenin Era postcard from Kazan, Russia tempts the ideologically indecisive with the future promise of Marxism: A combination beer brewery/ice cream kiosk. That’s right, comrade, never again will you get riled up at the brats screaming for ice cream! The pleasure is shared equally!

What about the fifteenth? (1910)

The caption rather mysteriously states: “The expert and layman speak: A second Gosser (Beer) does not do it!” Okay, how about the third? No? Fifth? Tenth? Just when is this stuff going to do it to me?

We’ll take one of everything. (1927)

This leather postcard affirms what much of the world assumes to be true: Yanks will drink any swill put in front of them. Europeans probably assume it’s because we have no palate, but the scrawl on the back of the card tells a very different story: “We drank all night, we drank everything in sight, and at the break of first light we said: There ain’t a hooch here we’re afraid to bite!” So you see, we aren’t uncultured clods at all. We’re fearless hooch-biters.

Good fucking wine. (1923)

Just a couple goatmen carrying a huge jug of wine, right? Look a little closer at their expressions and it becomes obvious they’re actually, well, you can see what those filthy demi-humans are doing

Hair of the bear that mauled you. (1925)

If you move a cardboard lever on the back of this “mechanical” postcard, a bear rears his head out of the mug of beer. Which makes you wonder what the Spoten Brewery is trying to say: Does drinking their beer make the hangover bear appear, or does a morning liter make the bear go away? I’m betting it’s both

Another reason to drink. (1912)

You’d have thought the Women’s Temperance Union could have have rustled up at least one hot babe for the picture. Thanks for the heads up, ladies. I’ll never again be without my flask of crone-repellent.

Working Class Wisdom

Ah, yes. Confronted with an unwinnable situation, the soft-boiled squire turns to his salt-of-the-earth caddie who lays down the Second Law of Endeavors: When you can’t win, get loaded. (The First Law is: When you win, get loaded.)

Why not both? Eh, sir? (1946)

This seemingly innocent postcard, apparently targeting heavyset sailors with the urge to abandon their duties, is in fact a maelstrom of Freudian misdirection. The parrot is obviously his squawky conscience and, oddly, our skipper seems to be moving away from his stated objets du désir. Then again, with that build and a mouthy parrot flying wingman, perhaps he subconsciously understands he stands a better chance pursuing the liquor than the ladies. As a matter of fact, I bet he was planning on going after the hooch the whole tim

Multi-generational liqueur. (1914)

Why go out and buy a confusing array of aperitifs when everyone from Grandpa Chan to little Jean-Claude will love Toni-Kola? The distillery restrained themselves a little, evidenced by the fact that little Babette has no glass of her own. Her slightly older sister, however, is going for the whole ball of wax.

Xmas comes early. (1925)

This defiant Prohibition Era postcard revels in law scoffing. Examine the very nearly orgiastic expression of the chap on the left, you’d think he’d just won the lottery. And perhaps, in a sense, he has.


The champagne of discord. (1909)

Okay, what’s going on here? We have a man with severe facial wounds seeking consolation from his uncaring wife, while his apparent — and apparently schizophrenic — attacker stares with disbelief at his evil clawed hand. In the background we have a sex fiend attempting to mount a swimmer who futilely attempts to flee, and in the lower left we have a man glaring with disdain at the product. Just how much angel dust did they put in the champagne back then?
Frank Kelly Rich
Editor/Publisher of Modern Drunkard Magazine.