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Views of a Philadelphia Ale House


I have been searching for  information on some prints of inns and ale houses that I bought. Information in the bottom of each reads: "J.P. 1908 - Copyright Robt. Smith Ale Brewing Co.," as well as information about the picture. Can anyone tell me something about these prints? So far, I've found the following information but would like to know why they may have printed them and what sort of prints these might be.



The company was started in 1774 by Robert Smith. One of the prints is of his first ale house in 1774, opened at Saint John & Noble Streets in Philadelphia in 1774. Through relocations and buy outs, the Robert Smith brand survived until 1986. In 1893 Robert Smith died at age 84. The company was then reorganized and renamed, To become the Robert Smith Ale Brewery (owned by Schmidt's) - which is the company that copyrighted my prints.

Another of the Prints is of The Blue Anchor Inn, built at the corner of High Street and Broad Streets in Burlington, New Jersey. The Third Provincial Congress of New Jersey met at the Tavern in 1776, and adopted a new State Constitution on July 2, 1776. In addition to declaring independence from Great Britain - two days early - this constitution granted voting rights to all citizens worth 50 pounds, and numerous women and minorities voted throughout the state until an all-male State Assembly again restricted the right to white males in 1809.

During the Revolution, the Tavern lodged George Washington, as well as American generals Knox, Green, Steuben, Cadwalader, Reed, Dickinson and Maxwell. On the opposing side, Count Donop, General Rahl, and Knyphausen rested here.

In 1856, the current Blue Anchor Inn was built on the same site. Known as the Beldin House in the 1860's, and later as the Metropolitan Inn, it served such guests as General Ulysses S. Grant, General George B. McClellan, Congressman McKinley, and Woodrow Wilson. It was used as a Republican headquarters during Lincoln's presidential campaign, and lodged stars of the stage in town for performances at the nearby Birch Opera House.


Readers' Comments:

P. Burrous
The Blue Anchor Inn is presently owned by the City of Burlington, and is being offered for sale for $1.00 - yes, one dollar! to any party willing and financially able to renovate it in accordance with the guidelines of the National Historic Trust, including renovation of the facade. 

Janet Graven Tourtellot
recently found three of these brewery prints from Philadelphia, Copyright 1909. Robert Smith Ale Brewing Company, marked J.P 1908 - of the "Drawbridge and Blue Anchor Inn," the "London Coffee House" and the "Penny Pot Tavern and Landing." She says they're in three matching two-tone really neat and great old wooden frames.

She says that she remembered them the moment she saw them in a local antiques shop as being from somewhere in her childhood in New York or New Jersey during the 1940s or 1950s.

According to the Philadelphia Print Shop, in answer to Janet's inquiry about her prints, they're by James Preston, from a set of 12 prints of Philadelphia taverns belonging to the Robert Smith Ale Brewing Co., 1909.

The Philadelphia Print Shop gives this description: "A colorful and interesting print set of twelve images showing Philadelphia taverns, inns, and breweries from ‘days gone by.’ Each print sets the building in a street scene filled with activity. Philadelphia prints are well known for containing scenes of city life, and these early twentieth century images carry on that tradition. Also included on each print is text giving something of the history of the businesses depicted. Decorative and of historical interest, this is a delightful series of Philadelphiana." 

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