Tap Handles

Following the end of Prohibition on April 7, 1933, U.S. federal and state governments set specific laws regarding the identification of beer being dispensed from draft taps in taverns. The tap, faucet, or other delivery system had to be clearly marked with the name of the beer being dispensed, leading to the development of a tap marker industry. Through the mid-1950s, a style of tap marker nicknamed the "ball" knob was widely used.They were the size of a golf ball, with a flat face set with a celluloid or enameled metal insert. They base was threaded so they could be easily changed out as they tapped different kegs.

These older taps are what I collect, and these are called "ball knobs". These are about the size of a golfball, with a threaded base and a flat, circular plate advertising the brand of beer on the face. These were used from the end of prohibition (1933) into the mid 1950's. Some of the prominent manufacturers include the Green Duck Metal stamping Co. They were located at 1520 W. Montana St. in Chicago IL. They began their business around 1906 and later moved to Hernando, MS. in 1962. They made a wide variety of stamped metal products and ad specialty items like political pins, bike badges, beer tap handle inserts, machine plates and badges, coins, tokens and a multitude of smaller decorative metal products. While in Chicago, they also made state license plates and tags. After their move to Mississippi, they were bought out by an English investor and slowly went downhill after that.

Daka-Ware was the brand name for products produced by Davies Molding.The Daka-ware tap knob has a convex (bowed out) face, so it appears almost spherical like a ball.There are usually two brass pins holding the face on the housing.

The Harry Davies Molding Company started in 1933 with 7 molding presses and 3 punch presses in downtown Chicago by owner Harry Davies. The small, single-room company was started during a time when the economy was depressed and work was scarce. Known as a phenolic molder, Davies manufactured numerous parts including knobs, handles, cases, ashtrays, as well as custom molded products. During the 1940’s and WWII, Davies Molding became a supplier of plastic components for the war effort. A second, smaller plant was established in 1966 to accommodate the demand for plastic component parts. One year later, the original plant was destroyed by a fire which forced the smaller plant to operate 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. To off-load the burden of this small plant, Davies moved to a facility on the west side of Chicago later that year.

The Robbins Co. of Attleboro, MA., The Clark C. Merritt Co. of New Jersey (who made tap handles from cocobolo wood during the metal rationing war years in the early 40's) are other companies who made ball knobs and inserts. Both metal and celluloid inserts were used on ball knobs, and color was added on metal inserts using a dura-enamel, which was painted (then cured) on the face Ball knobs range widely in price from $10.00 up to hundreds of dollars apiece. Larger breweries like Pabst, Ballantine or Blatz placed orders for thousands of taps, where smaller breweries like Binzel, Jordan, Pointer or Fleck's Brewing may have ordered a dozen or two at a time. And with any collectible, condition, rarity and desirability factor into the value of any beer tap knob.









 

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