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Ballantine Variations


This information, and the photos, come from an article in the January 2003 issue of "Rustlings" the monthly newsletter put out by the BCCA's Rusty Bunch.  The article was written by Matt M. with help from Charlie B. (who owns the cans photographed) Steve P., Dave B., and Bob F.  The first person references in the piece below are by Matt, the original author!  This is the type of research that makes this hobby fun and I thank Matt for letting me post it for others to enjoy.


Most collectors keep a few Ballantine's without giving much thought to the variations.  But besides being handsome cans and having cultural references on the labels, it is perhaps the one brand sold in New England that one can afford to collect on grade.  The variations are more interesting than finicky color shades and can companies, and there aren't any that are ungettable.  All in all, it’s a terrific subspecialty to collect!

The OI's

Two of the three OI's (Opening Instruction) pictured below are not shown in the USBC (United States Beer Cans).  Where cans are stacked in the photos, Ales are always on the top row and Beer on the bottom.  One collector reported that these all come with variations in the copper vs. orange-gold color, but keeping track of that would make me insane.  Dave B. reports a Beer OI with the older trademark text but the newer color.  Hard to say if it’s fade or not.

Ballantine Ale Front.
The first two beer OI’s are shown together (photo 1, backs are photos 2 and 3).  Note the difference in the color of the ring and the trademark text on the right-hand can, the earlier one.  The #2 beer shows a NY distributor at W. 16th St. NYC.  These are both unpictured in the USBC: the beer OI in USBC, 33-21, is actually #3 and has the NY distributor at Long Island City.  The black letters “export” are solid black in the #2 OI, and then black edged with gold in the #3 OI.
Ballantine Beer OIs #1 and 2.
Photo 1: The first two Beer OI's.
Differences are in the color and the trademark info around the rings, as well as the instructions themselves
Ballantine OI  no NY distributor.
Photo 2: Back of the first Beer OI, with no NY distributor 
Ballantine OI  WITH the NY distributor.
Photo 3: Back of the second Beer OI WITH the NY distributor.
The front of the first four beer OIS.
Photo 4: The front of the first four Beer OI's
Back of the First four Beer OIs.
Photo 5: The back of the first four beer OI's Note the differences in the distributor addresses.
Ballantine Ale OI #1 front.

Photo 6 : The first ale OI 

The first Ale OI, USBC 33-1, has the XXX in solid black with no NY distributor listed on the back, and a couple of other small differences from the next can.  (Photos 6, 7) There may be a second Ale OI, one that shows a NY distributor at W. 16th St. NYC.  However, we can not confirm the existence of this this second Ale OI can as yet.

Ballantine Ale OI #1 back.
Photo 7: Back of the first ale OI
Photos 8 and 9 show the third Ale (USBC 33-2) and the third Beer OI’s.  These are the most common of the OI's and all have the Long Island City address.  Yes, that’s the Bock OI and it matches the cans next to it as best as I can tell.  No word on if there are any earlier Bocks as yet.
Ballantine later OIs.
Photo 8: The later OI's, far more common than the earlier ones  
Ballantine later OIs backs.
Photo 9: Backs of the later OI cans.  NY Distributor is the Long Island City address.

The Product Lists

Chronologically, the first is the one with the Keglined logo at the bottom of the list.  This can has a flat top lid unlike the others, even though all are Others Pending (1938) with the sales office at Long Island City.  Presumably the plain list is second, followed by the one with the UBIF seal since the seal shows up on most later cans.  Note that this is the United Brewers Industrial Foundation logo, not the USBF (United States Brewers Foundation) which shows up on the post-back panel IRTP and all later cans.  (BTW, no one's seen USBC 33-31; it isn't really a one faced can.)  USBC claims to not show can company or  other minor differences, yet it shows a version of the ale product list different from the beer and bock.  I guess they were too sick of looking at Ballantine by the end of the project to bother with showing matching cans, but all these variations are known and listed in the Wolpe catalog.  Below I have photos of the variations, plus close-ups of the relevant logos we refer to in this article.


Ballantine Products List.
Photo 10: The 3 variations of the products list.
From left to right...
1. Keglined Logo at bottom of list.
2. No Keglined Logo.
3. UBIF Logo at bottom of list.


The Three Different Logos That May Appear.

UBIF Symbol
Photo 11: UBIF Symbol
Handy Way Symbol.

Photo 12: "Handy Way to Order" Panel.

Keglined Logo not available yet (my can is too rusty to copy it!) It will be photo 13.

The Just for Funs

These come with the UBIF logo or with the handy logo.  The Beer with the handy logo may be the granddaddy of all these cans. My shelfer came from Nan W’s digs after the Syracuse Canvention but the Ballantine fanatics I know don’t have it!  I’ve only seen one other, an indoor one in a photo of a fellow RBers collection.  I had dumped the Ale/just for fun/handy once.  All four variations are considered tough among all the back panels.  I don’t know where in the chronology these fall.  Perhaps a radio buff could date them by the celebrities listed on the can?  My guess is 1938 since a trademark is listed on the handy logo like the 1938 Handy Can, but unlike the handy logo on the 1939 World's Fair can.

Ballantine Just for Fun. Photo 14: The 2 variations of Just for Fun.
1. (left) Has the "Handy Logo" near the bottom, a hand making
the "OK" sign.  It is hard to see in this picture.
2. (right) UBIF symbol is present instead of the "Handy"

The "Handy" Can, the "New York World's Fair", The "1840-1940", and the "Save Money" Cans

Each comes in Ale and Beer with no basic variations, photo #15.  The Handy can has a 1938 trademark on the handy logo, and the World's Fair and 1840-1940 cans are self–dating for 1939 and 1940.  No dates are on the Save Money Buy in Bulk.  It lacks the UBIF seal which might make it 1940-42, but the print size of the NY Distributor information matches the earlier Just for Fun so the evidence is mixed.


Ballantine other back variations. Photo 15: The four other back panels with no variations.

The Bocks

We can’t say much useful about the Bocks yet, but research continues! However, not all variations may exist in Bock since the designs changed more than once a year, especially in 1938 when there might have been four to six different back panels.  Bock beer was normally only sold in the early Spring, so whatever design they were using in late winter/early spring was what the Bock probably would have gone into for that year.

Does a Quart Bock Exist?

The neatest thing about this trio is in the list of brands and packages.  Bock is shown to come in 12 AND 32 ounce cans!  According to several Bock specialists there are no bock quarts known, but there are enough other Ballantine quarts that just don’t show up to make me think maybe just maybe.  The quart product lists themselves don’t show bock in quart cans which indicates they came up with the design for the product list well before the quart cones came out.  That would have all happened in the very end of 1937, into 1938.  Maybe the quart cones weren't ready to roll by spring 1938 when the bock for the year had come and gone.  The first known quarts were cap-sealed, so perhaps it was a quart flat top from American that the 12 oz. cans refer to?  The difference in product lists would've been a trademark conflict between can companies, evidenced by the can shown on the tray of the Esslinger quarts.  American canned that brand in flat top quarts showing a quart flat on the waiter's tray, then switched to producing cones but left the flat top on the label. When Crown produced Esslinger quart cones, they went to the trouble of switching to a cone on the tray, perhaps to avoid showing an American trademarked product on the label.  Likewise, a Continental quart cone would never refer to the American quart flat that had perhaps come out a year or two before.  Quart flats are tough in all the brands they were used, couldn’t there be an undiscovered one?  Food for thought.


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