Antique Beer Tray Value Guide

We take consignments on all types of advertising trays from small tip trays to regular serving trays to large display chargers for any advertising type from soda, beer, whiskey, or others. Most trays will date to the early 1900s to 1940s though some valuable trays date to outside this period. Most trays are lithographed metal, though we also deal with porcelain trays and occasionally engraved brass or other similar trays as well. If you believe you have trays or advertising items that we might be interested in, then please contact us via email, phone, or use our contact form.

Entry Level Collectible Advertising Trays:

Entry Level Advertising Trays usually sell for less than $30 each and many can be found for as low as a few dollars. Almost all entry level trays are very common and easily available on ebay to anyone interested or may be less common but were made in the 60’s or later. I also include in this category, lower condition trays of mid level rarity trays.

Mid Level Collectible Advertising Trays:

Mid Level Advertising Trays usually sell for $30-100 and include trays that are somewhat scarce, have moderate demand, or for whatever reason collectors are willing to pay elevated prices for. Mid level trays tend to be pre-pro trays that are common stock trays or damaged, and popular trays produced in the 30’s and 40’s. Many of the later and more common Coca-Cola trays will also fall in this range. There are exceptions but the majority of trays in this price range will meet one of those criteria.

High End Collectible advertising trays:

High End Collectible advertising trays are those that advanced and experienced collectors are actively looking for. This usually means that these trays are fairly rare and don’t come up for sale often and almost all of them will be pre-prohibition trays with custom designs, although some stock trays can be quite valuable as well. This combination of rarity and demand drives prices up into the hundreds and sometimes even the thousands of dollars. To bring top prices trays need to be in good condition without areas of the lithography scraped off, without fading, rust, dents, nail holes or other defects and preferably with a nice shine to the finish of the tray.

Factors that Determine the Value of An Advertising Tray:

  • Rarity: The rarity of any collectible item will drastically affect its value. Trays with only a few known examples will naturally bring higher prices from collectors than trays that you can buy on ebay at any time. How can you know if your tray is rare or common?
    If you don’t know how rare or common your tray is, you can look around online and try to track it down yourself or just get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to give you a free estimate for its value at auction and some history and information on it.
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  • Demand: The second main factor affecting the price of collectibles is demand. Even if you have an incredibly rare item in terms of the fact that you can’t find them often, if collectors aren’t competing to buy it, then the value will still be low. To achieve high prices, you need both rarity AND demand from collectors. Many people get hung up on the idea of whether something is rare, without considering if anyone out there actually wants to buy it. You’ll see this phenomenon all the time on ebay when someone has their “RARE” item up for hundreds or thousands of dollars and it sits there for weeks or months without selling.
  • Design: The design of a tray also affects its value, collectors love to see trays with attractive designs and good colors. The most valuable trays you’ll see on the market almost always have beautiful designs such as those found on many pre-prohibition beer trays. There are valuable trays out there with rather simple designs as well but those are the exception rather than the rule. Common motifs include Victorian Ladies, Animals, Images of the Product Bottle, Brewery or Factory scenes, and Company logos. Some collectors will tend to focus on a particular brand, others focus on a geographic area such as a city or state and collect trays from those, others focus on collecting a certain kind of tray such as those with pretty ladies on them.
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  • Condition: As with all types of collectibles, condition is king. In many cases a tray in near-mint condition can bring ten times the value of the same tray as a grade 6. Additionally, condition increases the value at an almost exponential rate where the difference between a grade 8 and grade 9 is much larger than the difference between a grade 7 and grade 8.

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