"The Quest for Fortune"

Quest for Fortune painted by Claude Buck ca.1945
By Claude Buck 1945

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.

Buck used actual artifacts as models for his work and the company prepared this detailed description of the items:

"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 150 year old shawl which appears in Quest for Fortune was borrowed from a retired theatrical agent to whom it was presented, while in Spain, by the great grand-daughter of the original owner.

As a token of esteem, a member of an old, aristocratic Spanish family presented the tambourine to a famous ballerina after seeing her dance while on a South American tour.

The revolver is from a valuable collection of early California weapons. It is a six-round, .36 caliber Navy Revolver, Model 1851, fourteen inches in length.

A collector of rare steins permitted Mr. Buck to select from a large assortment, the unusual specimen portrayed in the painting.

Dating back to the days when the Mexican flag flew over southern California, the spur is from one of the finest collections of early California relics.

Tools of the California Gold Rush, like this miner’s pan, knew the swirl of water, gravel and gold. The pick, too, saw long and rugged service in the Quest for Fortune.”
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.

Dumler & Breiden beer stein No. 550However, 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.
Acme's chalkware wall display of stein from Quest for Fortune
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.

BACK to ACME 1945

Acme Brewing Co. 1907-1954


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Acme Collectibles For Sale

Acme Art-Deco decal print Art-Deco decal print - go to: SIGNS  

  Acme Gold Label Beer emblem - image

For this display item, a coaster, a can, a cap lifter, and two different miniature beer bottles - go to: MISC.

Acme glasses from 1938 Acme pair - go to: GLASSES  
Acme stein chalk ca.1947 Acme wall display - go to: SIGNS


  • A special thanks to Louis Bravos, grand-son of Acme Sales Manager, Louis T. Bravos, for "The Quest for Fortune" explanitory notes.

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