Origins

Silver Creek Brewery

Image of the Silver Creek Brewery

The Silver Creek Brewery, for which this label was made, was opened by John H. Sleeman in 1851. His son George Sleeman joined the company in 1859 as the general manager and in 1965 he was named a partner (Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 2005). The addition of George Sleeman to the brewery led to the addition of steam power and a malt house (Guelph Public Library, 2013). George Sleeman was a sportsman and a politician who was greatly involved with the city of Guelph. He was prominent in many aspects of the city of Guelph, including serving as the president of the Turf Club, the Guelph Rifle Association, and the Guelph Bicycle Club. The Sleeman brewing company allowed him to sponsor many things including, a baseball team named after his brewery as well as, racing programs for the turf club (Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 2005). It was George Sleeman’s funding of the Guelph Railway Company, which was an investment which never paid off, that caused the banks to take over the railway, his house and the brewery. However the bank could not run the large brewery and it was eventually sold back to the Sleeman family in 1906 (Guelph Public Library, 2013).

Barclay, Clark and Company Building

Image of the Barclay, Clark and Company Building in 1991

The beer label itself was printed in Toronto, Ontario by the Barclay, Clark and Co lithographing company, founded in 1889 (City of Toronto, 2014). The label is estimated to have been produced c. 1893-1900. the label features a medal which was awarded at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and the Silver Creek Brewery changed names to Sleeman Brewing and Malting in 1900 due to the growth of the railway (Guelph Public Library, 2013). The label was printed through the process of colour lithography. The process of colour lithography at the time involved a design being done with a greasy substance on stone, the preferred of which was limestone, which would then pick up the greasy substance. The stone was then moistened with water, the drawing done with a greasy medium prevents part of the stone from absorbing water. Oil based ink would then be rolled onto the stone, this ink would only be picked up by the greasy parts of the stone, the design. Paper could then be pressed onto the stone and the ink design would be transferred to paper. (University of Houston | Technology). Commercial prints, such as this beer label, were made by creating separate stones of different colours which would then be printed using one colour in register over another (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008).