When it comes to collecting drink related antiques (breweriana) Guinness represents the very top end of the market. The most popular items feature the animals made famous by the artist John Gilroy in Guinness advertising from 1930 until the mid-1960’s. Carlton Ware produced a wide range of these animals with Penguins, Toucans, and the Sea Lion lamp (pictured here and once the star item in my collection) being amongst the most sought after items.
Guinness collecting is a seriously expensive business, and as such has attracted the attentions of quite a lot of forgers. Legitimate reproductions also abound so you have to be really wary or you can pay as much for a forgery/reproduction as for the real thing! Look out for signs of wear, especially on the base and also smoke staining and crazing – their absence is often a good indicator that the item in question has never been inside a pub and is new.
As a general rule don’t buy Guinness items in Ireland, as the quality isn’t to be had and the prices are usually outrageous. The internet is a much better option and eBay normally has several thousand pieces of Guinness breweriana for sale at any one time. Quality varies enormously and good pieces fetch staggeringly high prices but there is still the odd bargain to be had.
If you’re a Guinness collector look no further than The Guinness Collectors Club which can be contacted via its website at www.guinntiques.com Here there is everything that you could want to know about the history of Guinness, the advertising material, the breweriana etc and there is also much useful information about how to identify fakes – indispensable to the collector.
The official Guinness website http://www.guinness.com/en-ie/ has all sorts of interesting things on it including long forgotten TV ads – sadly though, none of the best ones!
Nobody with even a passing interest in Guinness collecting will want to be without a copy of “The Guide to Guinness Collectables” by Nick Fairall & David Hughes. This is available at a discount through the Guinness Collectors Club website but hurry, as I think that the first edition is now out of print.