The 'Stock' Exchange
Kaufmann & Strauss Co.   "American Maid"
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Date:  Pre-pro
Inverted Pie & Pie
Scarcity:   C
Value:  $$$ to $$$$
Condition & Brewer Dependent
This is one of the few K&S stock designs with an official title bestowed by the manufacturer, although we must admit the title confounds us a bit.  What exactly was K&S trying to convey with this title and image?  Nothing about this young woman suggests that she was employed in the capacity of a domestic maid; it seems more likely that she is the lady of the house, or possibly the young adult daughter. 

There is a slim possibility that the design is referencing a 1917 film titled “American Maid” in which Virginia Lee (played by Edna Goodrich), daughter of a United States Senator, meets David Starr, a wounded United States soldier, in a field hospital in which she is serving as a Red Cross nurse. Starr returns to the trenches and Virginia's base hospital is moved. Starr is again wounded and invalided home, but Virginia has lost contact with him. She returns to America; Starr sees her at a ball at the French Embassy in Washington but feeling she’s too far above him socially, he goes West.  Virginia's father takes her West on a business trip and there the main drama is enacted.  The young lady depicted on the tray bears a resemblance to Edna Goodrich.

The most interesting thing about this design in our opinion is that it provides clear evidence of an evolution in the lithographic process by reproducing an actual photographic image, a process known as photo-lithography.  This was apparently a relatively new technique enabled in the advancement of photographic technology in the early years following the turn of the century. 

Warren C. Browne, editor of The National Lithographer, a leading journal of the time, discusses it in his 1909 book Metal Plate Printing:
“This has resulted from a series of experiments which has brought Photo-Lithography, … to a point where it is useful for the graphic arts…it use has been restricted by prejudice and custom, but in the near future it will be a great acquisition to the lithographing trade once it is generally recognized that it is possible by that process to prepare a plate or stone by the aid of photography from any original.” 

Browne goes on to cite reproductions of certain oil painting portraits of President Taft and Canadian Prime Minister, Sir Wilfred Laurier produced by an unnamed Chicago lithographer that “created something of a sensation in lithographic circles.”  Browne then moves into technical discussion of the various techniques being employed to conduct photo-lithography, clearly indicating that the technology was still in a developmental stage and not yet standardized for commercial production. 

Browne revisited the topic in more depth in his 1917 work Offset Lithography:  Photo Lithography Tin Plate Decorating where he presents an even more enthusiastic endorsement of photo-lithography as being the future of the lithographic trade due to its many benefits.  For example, a decrease in the amount of time it takes to break down the components of an original source work into separate colors which also reduces the cost of reproduction.  Images can be reproduced using black and the primary colors red, yellow and blue and in seven printings or less achieving results that previously would have required fifteen colors (and at least as many printings).  However, it is still clear that widespread adoption and standardization of technique had still not occurred.

K&S produced at least one other stock design using this process, Purity, which like American Maid retains a somewhat monochromatic color palate suggesting they were still experimenting with the technique. 

Confirmed Brewer used Stock Trays

Non-Beer Related & Non-Tray Uses

Edna Goodrich
William Howard Taft
Canadian Prime Minister,
Sir Wilfred Laurier
Competitor American Art Works seems to have committed more fully and has a few more examples.  Browne didn’t have the advantage of time to see how photo-lithographic trays held up; while wear doesn’t seem to have been a particular issue, colors on the K&S example typically seem to fade.  In well preserved examples her dress and headband are pink, and the flowers are yellow and pink, while the plant parts are shades of green.

There are not a wide number of examples of this design from different advertisers leading us to believe the design was produced in the mid-to-late teens when prohibition started being enacted in individual states.  The technique seems to gone out of favor for breweries following prohibition when tray design seemed to become more simplified with less emphasis on pictorial composition.

Size, Shape, and Advertising Placement
All examples we’ve encountered have been either 13” convex or 13” concave pie shapes.  DuBois Brewing of DuBois, PA had both produced as well as a tip tray size (the only tip tray example we’ve encountered).  Rims on all examples are a mid-gray with white or off-white advertising text.  The “American Maid” title appears in a greenish script when it’s not faded.  Advertising text appears on the face of most examples with red being the most prominent on the Enterprise Brewing example.

Average examples of this fairly common K&S stock design typically go for high double figures; nicer examples range from the mid-triple figures to low four figures.