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Vintage Sleuthing: Pub jugs - where advertising meets barware

vintage sleuthing

The need to get their brand in front of people for whom it might resonate is why so many companies invest in promotional products. Beer, wine and alcohol makers have spent centuries handing out useful products like glasses, coolers, fancy decanters, t-shirts and more. One of the most charming of those products is the pub jug--a ceramic pitcher that bartenders proffered full of water for those who wanted to add a splash to their whiskey or cocktail.

Without touching on the debate over whether or not it is good and proper to add water to your whiskey (earlier this year, scientist declared that water is a plus), a big segment of pub jugs bear whiskey brands and might more properly be called whiskey water jugs.

But you don't have to be a whiskey drinker to find an advertising water pitcher for your favorite brand. From the mid century era until now, just about every beer and liquor company got in on the trend. And rest assured, another bar staple from back in the day, cigarettes, were not going to get left out either.

Modern whiskey drinkers are more likely to get small branded glass pitchers. But the pub jugs from the 1950s - 1970s were commonly ceramic. The quality of the pottery varies from sublime by noted makers like Wade, to souvenir with more glazing and molding flaws. They both have their charm.

If you're purchasing a pub jug to use, look for one that has no cracks or crazing (a series of fine lines in the clear glaze that covers the colored glaze). If you're purchasing a pub jug for decor, let color, shape and brand drive your decision making.

As with all things, the price of a vintage advertising bar pitcher is driven by scarcity, condition and demand. Expect to pay between $15-$50.





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