BREWERY GEMS ARTICLE:
"The Quest for Fortune"
In 1945 Acme Breweries commissioned artist, Claude
Buck to create a work that reflected the company's long history with
California. His evocative still life was meant to promote allegiance to
their local brand over the encroaching national brands.
"The wagon wheel is from the second prairie schooner to reach California, which strangely enough came by ship around Cape Horn. This two-ox team wagon was used for many years between Santa Cruz and Pescadero by one of the early settlers.
The stein has been the focus of attention by many collectors who beleived that it may have been an actual Acme stein. Buck was living in Santa Cruz, Calif. when he did the painting and borrowed a stein as a model from a local collector. This individual could have had a stein depicting an early California event, but it wouldn't have had the Acme logo.
My belief is that the stein commemorates the Conquest of California which began with the June 1846 Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma, and ended with the Capitulation at Cahuenga (now Studio City) in January 1847. The mounted soldiers probably represent Fremont's California Battalion of Mounted Riflemen. The original stein (if it exists) may have had the California Republic's Bear flag, or a conquest citation in the area where Buck placed the brewery's logo.
However, it's more than likely that Buck chose a stein having nothing to do with California, but had the style and details that pleased him. He accurately copied the stein then painted his own scene representing early California, and added the Acme logo. With the exception of the subject matter, Buck's stein is identical to this 1898 example from German manufacturer Dümler & Breiden (catalog #550).
Upon receiving the finished painting, Acme had reproductions made and framed prints of the "The Quest for Fortune" were distributed to their accounts.
Another promotional item was inspired by the painting, with the production of a chalkware wall display. It was a 20" tall, stylized version of the stein with the horsemen in high relief.
If anyone has information on the original stein, please contact me.
Acme Brewing Co. 1907-1954