Finished filming a documentary on the assembly process of our 80th Anniversary tribute of the Price Bros ‘Halo’ illuminated advertising signs. This ‘Seitz Beer’ sign is one of the signs recently completed. These classic signs are created to honor the past with exacting detail.
Each ‘Halo’ sign is masterfully and painstakingly executed to be period accurate, using the same materials and construction techniques as the original manufacturer. Quality does not come cheap and only a handful of these signs will be made, every one date stamped and a provenance of the buyers of each sign recorded, but that is what is needed to make iconic signs of distinction.
THE DISTURBING HISTORY OF THE SEITZ BREWING COMPANY
The Seitz Brewing Company, of Easton, PA, may not have been in operation for very long, but it sure had a fascinating history that involved murders, bribery, counterfeiting, a conspiracy to defraud the government and the mob.
Following the murder of Max Hassel, who was reputed to be a big time Pennsylvania bootlegger, who was slain by gangster bullets in a hotel room in 1933 the government conducted an investigation into his activities in an effort to identify the killers. It was discovered that Hassel controlled the Seitz brewery through a secret real estate company that uncovered a scheme to evade government taxes.
[An Estimated 8,000 people attended Max Hassel's funeral after he was slain]
Before his murder, Hassel was investigated in 1928 for bribing policeman and was linked to the execution of a federal prohibition agent in 1930. Hassel, who was known during prohibition as “Reading’s Millionaire Newsboy” and described by agents as a “beer baron” and “brewery magnate”, was notorious for running high-powered illegal beer from his brewery in Reading.
[The gold plated brass casket for Max Hassel cost a staggering $36,700 in today's money]
Five years after Hassel was murdered the Feds found records in a safe showing his once powerful gang controlled the brewery. According to the indictments, the mob run Seitz brewery manipulated their books to conceal the sale of beer so that the federal agents who made periodic inspections could not confirm how much beer was sold or the purchases the brewery made of raw materials, such as malt, hops and other necessities used in the manufacturing of beer. The investigation also discovered that the Seitz brewery conspired with a Brooklyn, NY bottle cap manufacturing company that supplying counterfeit caps falsely claiming the payment of beer taxes. The feds would indict those involved in the scheme on charges of operating a liquor conspiracy in which the brewery avoided over $500,000, which in totals dollars would exceed $9 Million. According to the indictments both companies conspired together to manufacture countertop bottle caps that beer taxes had been paid.
The feds revoked the Seitz brewing permit and ordered operations to be ceased immediately and placed its operations into receivership. Although the brewery had been running legally since 1935, the trustee thought it best to sell the company's assets to meet its debts and a US District Court ordered a liquidation of the company. The property was sold in 1941 and it would be one more year before the Seitz brewery would be demolished.
[Although the Seitz Brewing Co was short lived it did produce some beautiful advertising, like this beer tray]