When the first barrels of beer were shipped to the UK in 1868, they were not labelled. The Carlsberg name was burnt into the wood of each barrel.
In the early days, the breweries did not design their own labels for the domestic market, as beer was sold in barrels only. Local bottlers labelled the bottles with their own private “Carlsberg” labels.
When the bottling factory “Alliance” was established in 1870, the company achieved the exclusive right to bottle all Carlsberg beer for export. A British label from Ernst Younger’s brewery served as a model for the first export labels used by “Alliance”. – The six-pointed star – an old brewing symbol – was not available as trade mark, and JC Jacobsen therefore settled for a 12-pointed star (like a compass card) for his beer labels.
“Alliance” was in charge of all export and had direct contact with foreign commercial agents who usually wanted their own label design. Often the Carlsberg name was not mentioned at all, nor was the country of origin. Such an arrangement was effective until 1918.
Carl Jacobsen established the bottling factory “Activ” in 1883 in order to export his beer brands, and he also arranged all export activities through external agents primarily using private labels.
When JC and Carl Jacobsen agreed to name their breweries Old Carlsberg and New Carlsberg respectively, they also decided to use a different label design for their beer brands. – JC was using the 12-pointed star and Carl Jacobsen who was fascinated by the Antiquity chose the swastika with four dots as his trade mark. The swastika is a symbol of prosperity and good fortune and widely spread throughout the ancient and modern world. The symbol was in use until World War II.
The East Asiatic Co. was New Carlsberg’s sole agent in South East Asia. The beer for the Asian trading stations was a strong luxury beer sold under the New Carlsberg trade mark.
As from 1882, the breweries' own labels were used for all brands both for the domestic market and for export, and often the design of the export label was identical to the domestic one.
When Carlsberg in 1903 built their own bottling factory, the agreements with the bottlers “Alliance” and “Activ” were terminated. In 1904 the Carlsberg Pilsner was brewed for the first time, and the label by Thorvald Bindesbøll was also used for export.
When Old and New Carlsberg were combined in 1906 JC Jacobsen’s 12-pointed star and Carl Jacobsen’s swastika trade mark were combined into one. The swastika is a symbol of prosperity and good fortune and widely spread throughout the ancient and modern world. The symbol was in use until World War II.
From 1918, Carlsberg designed label replaced all private labels, and the name of the local foreign agent was instead printed on the neck label.
Although label design was standardized, some adjustments had to be made to comply with local regulations.
To celebrate great events of the time, special labels were made for limited productions. Such brands are collector’s item.
The Carlsberg Pilsner label designed by Thorvald Bindesbøll has over the years been adapted when necessary.