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Welcome to Amazing Tap Handles - The Tap Handle Museum. Here you will find photos of the Museum's collection of beer taps, along with brewery info. Have a look around the Museum, and use the contact form in sidebar to leave me feedback about the site, talk about taps, or if you have a rare tap handle you'd like to sell to the Museum. I'd love to hear from you! Please, no inquires about buying taps - they're not for sale.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Tap Handle #568: Hawaii Brewing/Schlitz (Pabst) - Primo King Kamehameha Bust

Tap size:  10.25"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

This tap handle is actually a bust of the Hawaiian King Kamehameha, the first of the royal family of Hawaii. His image appears on most of Primo's logos. Although it appears as if the blue paint on the helmet has been rubbed away to show a golden color underneath, this is by design - every tap was made this way to impart an aged look. The tap itself is very light, made of molded plastic, but the gold colored band is unique, which I believe is made of thin metal due to the reflective properties. The word "Primo" appears on the front and back, and also features multiple colors. Like the Primo tiki I posted about in profile# 488, this tap was very high on my wishlist back when I started this site up, and it took me quite some time to acquire it. It is actually newer than the tiki, with a copyright date of 1974 belonging to "Hawaiian Brewing Co., Honolulu, Hawaii". To steal a phrase from my Primo tiki post: "this dates the tap to the Schlitz ownership days, at the height of Primo's popularity and before the brewery in Hawaii was closed." The Kamehameha bust tap is scarce; in fact, in all the time I've been acquiring taps, this is one of only ten that I've ever seen. This scarcity is also why it took me so long to acquire one, as the price has risen over the years. A newer version has been produced by Pabst, but is very small and has a "toy on a stick" feel; it pales in comparison to this one, in my opinion.

Kamehameha I (1758 - 1819), also known as Kamehameha the Great, was born at Kokoiki in North Kohala on the island of Hawai`i. One Hawaiian prophecy foretold that a light in the sky with feathers like a bird would signal the birth of a great chief. Historians believe Kamehameha was born in 1758, the year Halley’s comet passed over Hawai'i. Kamehameha was descended from chiefs of Hawai`i and Maui. As a young man, he distinguished himself as a talented warrior and served his uncle Kalaniopu`u, ruler of several districts on the island. Kamehameha's legendary strength was proven when, at the age of 14, he overturned the Naha Stone, which reportedly weighed between 2.5 and 3.5 tons. You can still see the Naha Stone today in Hilo. This fulfilled a second prophecy that whoever was able to move the Naha Stone would become the greatest king in Hawai'i. As part of Kalaniopu`u's retinue, Kamehameha met Captain Cook on Maui and was wounded in the scuffle that resulted in Cook's death at Kealakekua Bay.

Following the death of Kalaniopu`u in 1782, civil war broke out over control of the districts and resources of Hawai`i island. Kamehameha eventually vanquished his primary rival and cousin Keoua at Pu`ukohola. Having gained control of his home island, Kamehameha turned to the other Hawaiian islands. A keen battle strategist who used weaponry purchased from American and European traders, the king conquered Maui and Molokai, then turned his attention to Oahu. In 1795, Kamehameha invaded the shores of Waikiki beach and led his army to Nuuanu, where a bloody battle with Oahu chief Kalanikupule ensued. Hundreds of Oahu’s warriors were killed, driven over the valley’s Pali cliffs. In 1810, Kaumualii, the king of Kauai, peacefully surrendered his island to Kamehameha to avoid further bloodshed. With that, Kamehameha fulfilled his destiny of uniting all the Hawaiian islands under one rule.

Throughout his reign, Kamehameha upheld the tenets of traditional religion in the face of new cultural influences. Although he cultivated friendships and alliances with Westerners who could help maintain his status - like John Young and Isaac Davis who shared their weapons expertise - he tightly controlled Western business and political contacts with Hawaiians. Kamehameha and his chiefs supplied visiting ships with provisions during the fur trade and cut cargo-holds of sandalwood to pay for Western goods. Kamehameha’s unification of Hawai'i was significant not only because it was an incredible feat, but also because under separate rule, the Islands may have been torn apart by competing western interests. Today, four commissioned statues stand to honor King Kamehameha’s memory. Every June 11th, on Kamehameha Day, each of these statues are ceremoniously draped with flower lei to celebrate Hawaii’s greatest king.

Source material for Kamehameha courtesy of, and

For more about Primo, see this post.

Click through to see more photos of this iconic tap...

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