Friday, March 11, 2011

Coupons from the E.H. Koester Bakery Co.


These two coupons for Koester's bread were tucked inside a handwritten recipe book that I picked up at a yard sale last year in southern York County. The pink one is for a free loaf of Koester's Honey Bread (regular price 10¢). The yellow one is for a free loaf of Koester's Homade Bread (regular price 12¢). My wife and I like the line at the bottom of the coupon that states: "Mr. Grocer: Please collect 12¢ from our salesman for this coupon."

The first two things we know about this bakery come from the coupons. The company is named The E.H. Koester Bakery Co. And it was established in 1886. (And, based on the historic prices of a loaf of bread, we can guess that these coupons were issued sometime in the 1940s.)

Beyond that, information has been relatively hard to come by. It turns out that Koester is remembered more for a baseball card set it issued in 1921 than for its baked goods (more on that later).

Pictured at right are some images of Koester's company and product logos, if that helps to jog anyone's memories.

The best information I was able to track down was compiled by the website German Marylanders, which is dedicated to profiling men and women of German ancestry who moved to Maryland and "paved the way for life as we live today." Eilert Herman Koester (1858-1948) and his wife Lisette Koester (1860-1947), both of whom were born in Germany, established The E.H. Koester Bakery Co. in Baltimore in 1886. It was, at one point, the largest family-owned bakery in the U.S. The bakery later was taken over by the Koester's son, William, after he served in the Navy in World War II. The bakery was sold in 1977.

There must be people out there who remember Koester's bread and bakery products. Please post your memories in the comments section, because I'm sure there's more to tell about this company, its history and its customers. It's a slice (no pun intended) of American history that shouldn't be forgotten.

Of course, in one respect, Koester's will never be forgotten. The company issued one of the most collectible baseball card sets -- including one extremely valuable card -- of all time.

In 1921, Koester's issued a 52-card set1 to commemorate the World Series between the New York Giants and the New York Yankees2. The set included the players and managers from both teams.

One of the Yankees in the set is Babe Ruth, who is listed as "George Ruth, L.F.-New York Americans" and is pictured in a Boston Red Sox uniform, because it had still been less than two years since the Red Sox sold him to the Yankees for $100,000.

The Koester's set features black and white photos on heavier-than-normal paper. The back of the cards are blank and have no markings. The website Babe Ruth Cards notes that: "Although trading cards began as a medium for advertising with the company producing the card’s name on the back, the 1921 Koester Bread card series lacks advertising. ... While the mechanism of distribution for the 1921 Koester Bread company’s cards is unknown, even without advertising these cards likely boosted sales among the always passionate about sports New Yorkers."

Oh, and these Babe Ruth cards, which are quite rare, are valued in excess of $10,000 in the marketplace.

Here's what it looks like, so that you can keep your eyes peeled at the next yard sale you attend.


Very geeky addendum
As I was examining the coupons in preparation for writing this entry, I noted with excitement that the words "Koester's Honey Bread" and "Koester's Homade Bread" appear to have been printed in the Cooper Black font. At first, I didn't think this was possible, because I didn't believe that Cooper Black was that old. But it turns out it was first released in 1922, so it's entirely reasonable for it to be used in the typography of a 1940s coupon. As I explained all of this to my wife, she stared at me as if I had suddenly sprouted a third eye. So there.

Footnote
1. The Koester's set is known as the D383 within the American Card Catalog.
2. The Giants defeated the Yankees, five games to three. Yes, you read that right.

25 comments:

  1. Thanks, Maureen. Do you have any memories of Koester's?

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  2. I was just looking for infomation on the Koester bread company and ran across your sight. My grandfather, Bernard W. Rial of Baltimore was a painter, and the Koester twins was one of the things he painted. _NOT the original I'm sure, but he painted sides of milk trucks and bread trucks, that kind of thing.

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    1. My grandfather designed these. He did all Koester bakery art from the early 1920's until he retired in the late 60's or 70's. He left us many ads and even used my Mom in a Christmas ad in their home on Gittings Avenue.

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  3. Chris, my grandfather, Peter Kleylein, worked for Koester and I have a photo of him driving a horse-drawn Koester wagon. It's on the bottom of this blog post from March 20, 2009: http://rrkpastisprologue.blogspot.com/2009/03/in-navy.html
    Thanks for the Koester images!

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  4. Jeannine (Deville) McCarrickJuly 7, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    Chris, my father, Dillard "Frenchie" Deville, worked for Koester's from 1954 until they sold it to Schmidt's in 1977. (He was one of the few men that Schmidt's kept on as salesmen.) Dad loved his job and was often the company's top salesman. Koester's was very good to my father. I was born in 1963 and as a toddler my photo won a company contest as the 'Koester Baby', or something like that...I'm looking for the paperwork/certificate to prove it! I have a plaque that was awarded to my Dad in his 9th year of employment with the twins logo on it...I've got fond memories growing up of ALWAYS having fresh bread in the house and I always wanted to ride to work with my father in his bread truck, but he always told me he couldn't do that...instead, he let me go grab the packet of bread off the truck! Thanks for the warm memories of Koesters!!!

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  5. Is anyone familiar with the "Movie Star Album" by Koester's Honey Bread? My mom passed away a we found a paper album by the name "Movie Star Album" with the emblem Koester's Honey Bread. Inside there are some car type pictures I guess my mom collected from eating Koester's bread. We grew up in Baltimore. On the back of some of the pictures is the following "one of these movie actor photos will be wrapped in each wrapped loaf of Koester's Tosty Bread. There are 100 of these portraits to a set. Be sure to and get the complete set"

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    1. I also live in Baltimore and have one of the albums. It is completly full minus one page, of old silent screen stars. I haven't been able to obtain any value estimates. If anyone knowes the value of these albums, please publish here.

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    2. I worked in the Easton, Maryland branch of the E.H. Koester Bakery from 1966 - 1972. We had tractor/trailers deliver fresh baked bread and sweets from the Baltimore bakery and we had 22 regular routes in Easton. Salisbury, MD. also had 20+ routes as well, and there was also an agency in Silver Spring, MD. I was a truck loader, working on the docks. It was hard work, but Koester was an extremely good company to work for at the time. Fond memories on my end.

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  6. If I remember correctly I used to work on a Koesters Twin bread truck when I was a young man in Maryland. It was a great job and a great source of goodies that were always readily available in the back of the truck...

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  7. My grandfather, Edgar Weal, worked for Koester's as a credit manager from 1933 until he retired in 1965. When I was born he purchased a $25 U.S. Savings Bond for me through Koester's (I guess you could do that back then!) I kept the bond until cashing it some time in my early 20's. Needless to say my family ate a LOT of Koester's bread. Great memories!

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  8. Give us the top and the bottom and we'll leave the middle to you,
    Build something great with Koester's bread and see what you can do,
    The better the bread the better the sandwich so start out way ahead,
    Make the top and the bottom something great with Koester's Bread!

    (Tune aired frequently on WBAL radio in 1972 during or near the time of Orioles' broadcasts. Heard the sound in and around my grandfather's Trappe farmhouse when I came over to visit from VA's western shore during school's summer break.)

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  9. Who bought out Koester's in 1977??

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    1. I know my grandfather lost his pension due to bankruptcy. He was the GM and designer for all Koester's ads. My understanding is Sunbeam bakery bought the business after the sons bankrupted the business.

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  10. Could Koester Fresh bread be related to Koestler's Bakery in Vicksburg, MS?

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  11. My dad worked there he went by the nick name of hump. Bill Matthews

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  12. I remember Koesters bread from the 1950s. The reason that I even found this site is that my husband and I were discussing bread wrappers from our childhood. Unlike today's bread wrappers, they were made from a waxed paper. He said that he used them to shine the sliding "pon" -- he's a Jersey boy -- but we just used waxed paper sheets on the sliding BOARD in Maryand.

    Anyway, Koesters popped into my mind, and I immediately remembered the sticker on the end of the package that had the painting of the beautiful little twins on it.

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    1. Yes, there wrapping was waxed. My grandfather even tried to design ring-around bread. He thought it would be a big hit but it really never caught on as a new alternative.

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  13. MY FRIEND SENT ME YOUR SITE BECAUSE MY WIFE'S MAIDEN NAME IS KOESTER(NO RELATION THAT WE KNOW). ANYWAY SHE BOUGHT A BLACK BOX WITH A FLIP LID THAT HAD THE KOESTER BLUE & GOLD METAL SIGN ATTACHED FROM AN ANTIQUE DEALER. DO NOT KNOW IF THE BOX WAS ORIGINALLY USED TO HOLD BREAD. SHE DID NOT TELL THE DEALER HER NAME UNTIL A FAVORABLE PRICE WAS AGREED ON. SHE KEPT AN EYE ON THAT BOX FOR TWO YEARS.

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  14. My Grandfather A Carroll Jones did the advertising for Koester's bakery in the early 1920's. In 1928 he lost his advertising job in NYC and stopped by Koestler's to let Mr. Koester know. Mr. Koester hired him on the spot and made him head of advertising and GM. I have many trolley car proofs as do my relatives. My mother was used in a Christmas ad and I have the first proof. I can post the proofs I have. My grandfather ran the business for over 40 years. The Koester sons bankrupted the business in the 60's.

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    1. Christy: Thank you so much for all of the comments on this point. I appreciate you taking the time to tell us about your grandfather. I would love to learn more and share it with the Papergreat readers. If you wish, you can email me at chrisottopa@gmail.com with any stories and/or images you want to share. All the best, Chris.

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  15. The coupons were my grandfather's idea. So were the baseball cards.

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