Born in Reutlingen in the Kingdom of Wurtemburg in 1809, John “Jacob” Seeger emigrated to the United States when he was about 22 years old. Raised by a father who was an accomplished silver-plater in what became part of the German Empire, Seeger followed in his patriarch’s vocation.
Upon arrival in the city of Baltimore in 1831, Seeger accepted a position as an apprentice in the craft.
Saving his earnings over the next 3 years, Seeger amassed enough of his money to open his own proprietorship. Establishing his business on German Street in 1834, Seeger quickly achieved a reputation for being a competent and quality plater.
In 1835 Seeger married and started a family. For the next 20 years Seeger’s business prospered and flourished, and he fathered two daughters.
The period was not without tragedy, however, as in 1845 his wife died. Five years later Seeger married a second time, and resumed his pursuit of fathering a family.
In 1854 Seeger diversified his business pursuits. Having witnessed first-hand the various successes of Baltimore’s local brewers, Seeger decided pursue the beer making business himself.
With capital accrued over the years through the success of his silvering business, Seeger purchased property on the corner of Baltimore’s Frederick and Pratt Streets.
There, on his acquired property, he constructed a new brewery with the goal of producing lager beer. Unlike other local brewers, Seeger was the first to brew lager beer in Baltimore.
And as was common for the era, Seeger’s brewery included a public beer garden where his customers could congregate, eat, and drink.
Using his storefront on German Street as the brewery’s business office, Seeger combined the management duties of both his enterprises.
Branded under the names Crystal Brewage, Seeger’s, and Jacob Estate, his brews fastly became a local favorite.
By 1866 Seeger abandoned his silver-plating business altogether, selling off his interest in the craft.
No longer a distraction, Seeger was thus enabled to fully focus his attention on brewing, which, at this point, had become a local economic powerhouse.
Paul August, a son from his second marriage, joined the business.
Sometime in 1876 Seeger developed health problems which rendered him immobile. Despite his health challenges, he continued running the business, with his son working by his side.
In 1888 Seegers brewing company changed monikers and was renamed Baltimore Brewing Co. Then again, in 1899, the company changed names a second time, to the Maryland Brewing Co.
Below please find a Jacob Seeger Silver Plater token, catalogued as Miller MD-149. Struck in brass, the token advertises Seeger’s plating business on German Street. The token was also used in Baltimore commerce, traded among consumers and businesses at the value of one-cent.
The token is About Uncirculated in grade, and exhibits sharp details.
Rulau provides no rarity for this particular specimen. However, it is estimated that the token has a Rarity Rating of about R-4 on the Fuld rarity scale.
The second specimen below is another Jacob Seeger Silver Plater token. Struck in copper instead, it is catalogued as a Miller MD-150, and shares the same design as the Miller MD-149.
As with the brass specimen, the token was traded in Baltimore commerce, at the value of one-cent.
Unlike its brass counterpart example above, this token grades at Choice Very Fine. And as with the Miller MD-149, Rulau provides no rarity. However, it is estimated that the token has a Rarity Rating of about R-4 on the Fuld rarity scale.
Finally, the third specimen below is catalogued as Miller MD-151. Also struck in copper, but having a reeded edge, it also shares the same designs as the ones above.
Unlike the two examples above, the token has certainly seen better days. This token grades at Fine, due to its worn and muted details.
Rulau provides no rarity for this particular specimen. It has a Rarity Rating of about R-3 on the Fuld rarity scale.
Notes and Sources
History of Baltimore City and County, John Thomas Scharf, Everts, 1881, pg.423
Baltimore: Its Past and Present A Souvenir, A Von Degen, The Baltimore Brewers and Malters’ Association, 1887
‘Baltimore Breweries,’ The Breweriana Collector Vol. 70, Journal of the National Assocation Breweriana Advertising, Summer 1990
Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900 Fourth Edition, Russell Rulau, Krause Publications, ©2004
Wood’s Baltimore City Directory 1880
History of the Brewing Industry and Brewing Science in America, Dr. John E. Siebel / Anton Schwarz, 1938, pg.215
The Library of Congress Digital Archives