1. What made you start collecting brewery trays?

I am a fanatical follower of Notts County FC and one of my fellow supporters collected trays.

Originally I'd pick them up for him, but then I started to really like them, so in 1982 I started collecting myself.

2. How many brewery trays do you have in your collection?

I currently have around 1150 trays but will reduce this number to 1000 during 2014. At one time I had over 1700 trays but in the 1990's I sold around 500 post 1970 trays.

3. What is your favourite tray?

This is one of the most difficult questions I am asked. I have an oval William Murray & Co Ltd tray which dates from around 1905 and this has everything, shape, condition, age and a lovely picture of a lady in period dress pouring a stout. However I also have a tray from Warwicks & Richardsons Ltd dating from 1910 and if this had been in better condition it would probably just pip the Murray's tray as my favourite. The Warwick's tray pictures the brewery and has all their labels listed at the base. A better version of this tray would then undoubtedly become my favourite.

4. Are there any trays you are still looking for?

Despite the fact that I have over 1000 trays there are many that I know exist and which I am still seeking to add to my collection. For instance I know of at least 100 pre-war trays and will in time list and picture these on this website. The trays I am particularly looking for are my favourite black backed examples dating from 1900 to 1939. However if there was just one tray I would want in my collection it would be one from Thomas Salt & Co Ltd's brewery. To this day I am still unclear as to whether Salt's produced a brewery tray- can anyone help?

5. How do you date and value a particular tray?

What do I look for and in what order do I look at them in order to date a tray?

1. Using Norman Barbers "A Century of British Brewers*" enables me to check the closure/takeover date of any particular brewery from 1880 onwards.
2. The material used in the manufacture of the tray. Copper, brass, enamel, heavy tin plate {black backs), alloy, aluminium, tin etc ... all give clues as to the date of the tray.
3. The manufacturer's mark- of course each maker has their own history
4. Giveaways on the tray itself such as commemorative dates, label history, fashion clues, trademark history .. etc
5. Finally and simply, my knowledge and gut feel after many years of collecting

Using the above five areas I believe I can date any tray give or take a few years so please feel free to contact me if you would like any advice.

As for valuing a tray there are a number of key factors:

1. The age of the tray- is the tray pre or post WW2. The vast majority of copper, brass, enamel and heavy tin black backed trays are pre WW2 and therefore of more value.
2. The rarity of the brewery- some breweries produced vast amounts of advertising whilst others produced one off items & some breweries only had a handful of pubs whilst others had hundreds. Generally the smaller the brewery and the smaller the number of pubs they owned the higher the value.
3. The design, colour & beauty of the tray- I prefer the black backed trays as these tend to incorporate much more colour and design thought.
4. The condition- this factor affects the value of a tray tremendously. I realise it's totally subjective but I only tend to collect trays which score 7 out of 10 and above, 7 being a number of surface marks, scratches etc otherwise the tray is perfectly displayable" through to a score of 10 being "mint"

Following the factors above, a very rough & ready valuation indicator is as follows:

1. Anything which is mint or near mint which dates from the 1970's (main manufacturer's marks being Wade PDM Ltd, MB/HCW and Salesprint Ltd)- £5 to £10 maximum
2. Any square, round or rectangular late 1950's or 1960's trays in near mint or mint (main manufacturer's mark's being Reginald Corfield Ltd, Hancock Corfield & Waller Ltd or Metal Box Co. Ltd)
- £10 to £20 for a more well known brewery
- £20 to £40 for a lesser known brewery

3. Any round or rectangular alloy trays dating from the late 1940's to the mid 1950's in near mint or mint condition (no manufacturer's mark) - £25 to £50
4. Any black backed heavy tin plate tray in near mint or mint condition from 1900 to 1939 (main manufacturer's marks being Hancock Corfield & Waller Ltd, Reginald Corfield Ltd, B.A.T.Co. Ltd or Joseph Causton Ltd)
- £40 to £80 for a more well known brewery with the price range then determined by the detail and design of the tray
- £50 to £150 for a lesser known brewery with the price range then determined by the detail and design of the tray.

If a really rare black backed brewery tray is in near mint to mint condition and dates from around the turn of the century and has an interesting design, then examples have been know to fetch £250+, these however are few and far between.

5. Any copper, brass or enamel trays in near mint or mint condition surprisingly are not as high in value as a pictorial black backed heavy tin plate tray.

- £30 to £50 for a more well known brewery
- £50 to £100 for a lesser known brewery

In exceptional cases where the tray advertises a very rare brewery and there is a good degree of design work represented then items can fetch over £100.

As you probably realise this is a general guide only.

If you would like your tray valuing then please send details and a photograph using the contact form.

6. Does anyone else collect trays?

I only know of one other collector who specifically collects brewery trays. There are many people who collect brewery trays to enhance their specific collection, for instance from a city like Sheffield, trays from Simond's brewery, trays which have horses displayed on them etc .....I am really keen to encourage young new collectors and would be glad to help or guide anyone who is interested.

7. Where do you find trays?

There are two main sources that enable me to add to my already sizeable and rare collection. The main contributor is ebay. Ebay adds on average about one new tray per month. The other source is the result of over thirty years of meeting and socialising with fellow collectors. I have a network of collectors who are always on the look out for me and I have to particularly thank two friends, Colin Tetley and Mick Rafferty who have turned up some great items over the years I have known them. Antique fairs, advertising & bottle fairs, junk shops, antique centres and auctions do not unearth trays like they used to. I would however advise any person who is considering starting a collection to target a few specific fairs such as the Summer National at Elsecar held in July or the big antique fairs such as Newark which is held every quarter. With the sheer volume of stalls there is always a possibility that an unusual tray will turn up unexpectedly.

8. What do my family and friends think about my collection?

At first my family thought I was stark raving mad and were particularly embarrassed when I used to ask publicans for spare trays. I would always start my banter with the words "I have an unusual hobby ..... " you could feel them cringe! These days my family accepts that my passion is preserving brewery history and my wife has even encouraged a few items to be displayed in the kitchen. Frankly my friends continue to take the micky but deep down they're impressed too.

9. What happened to trays after 1970?

Trays were still made after 1970 with two manufacturer's producing the vast majority of trays these being a merged Hancock Corfield and Waller Ltd and Metal Box Co. Ltd (MB/HCW) Wade PDM Ltd. However the volume of trays produced in the 1970's was considerably less than their height of the 1960's and this reduced even more in the 1980's and beyond. I don't think there is any one reason for this but I do have a number of ideas why:

1. Firstly and probably most importantly, I think the breweries started to think of better ways to advertise their products. This, plus increasing pressure on costs, meant that brewery trays weren't exactly top of mind to increase sales revenue.
2. I'm sure at some point "Elf & Safety" would have put their usual constructive snouts into the process. Trays might have been too dangerous in case serious fights occurred in tranquil country gardens or were responsible for humans catching lethal brewery tray flu- I jest but you get the picture!
3. Carrying drinks out to the garden on a lovely brewery tray is a social thing of the past and you do not actually hear anyone even ask for a tray these days.

If you have any other views I would be glad to hear them.

10. How do I start collecting trays?

In a previous question I stated that I would like to see more people collect trays. A question I am sometimes asked by people who are genuinely interested in my collection is "So how would I start?" The advice I would give would be to set some limits or criteria. It would be easy to just start collecting any tray as I did when I first started over thirty years ago but I suggest that you narrow your field such as:

1. Only collect trays from a country or specific county
2. Limit your collection to a set number such as 50 or 100 so that once you've reached that mark it's a discipline of one in one out.
3. Target a specific decade like the 1960's or even the 1970's. You'll soon have the largest collection of British brewery trays from the 1970's!
4. Set yourself a price limit such as a maximum spend of £15

Once you have decided the parameters of your collection then it's a case of working at it.

In order, these are the sources I would target if I was starting today:

1. Ebay (like it or not)
2. Specific advertising fairs
3. At the advertising fairs start talking to other collectors to create a network of people who could help
4. Targetted advertising such as in the BBR magazine (www.onlinebbr.com) or Antique Bottle Collector (ABC) magazine (www.abc-ukmag.co.uk). Also in targetted newspapers.
5. Write a story to a local newspaper- "you collect xyz and are looking for certain old breweries that may have produced a tray"
6. Visit your local auction- go to your local auction room and tell them your story
7. Targetted junk shops and antique & collectable shops
8. Use Google to deep dive on the internet
9. Social media
10. Target older pubs and ask publicans -offer to put a £1 in the charity box

Of course I would be glad to help any person starting a brewery tray collection so feel free to contact me.

Good luck!



Copyright © 2018 Stuart Inkley Computer Services Limited. All rights reserved.