|Caring for your steins is pretty
if you understand some of the basics about how they were made, and
common sense. Don't display them on a low table where your children or
grandchildren might be tempted to play with them. Don't try to clean
harsh chemicals or abrasives. Don't try to see how many you can carry
time, like the waitress in the Hofbrauhaus. Don't clink them
a toast, if you drink out of them. Don't put them in the dishwasher.
the way your mother treated her finest crystal, and you'll be OK.
Stein collectors learn very quickly that the hinged lid creates a
vulnerability in their steins. If the lid is allowed to swing closed by
it will normally close with a bang, risking damage to both rim and lid.
stein is handled without care, the lid may unexpectedly swing open,
damaging the lid, the thumblift or the handle of the stein. The way to
this is to develop the habit of firmly holding the lid with the
the hand holding the stein, and to use two hands when opening and
lid. This will allow you to turn the stein in every direction to
while holding the lid in place.
Be careful when moving steins around on a shelf. Base chips can result
knocking the base of one stein into another, or by banging it on the
edge of a
glass shelf. Handle cracks may arise from similar "bumps". Thumblifts
and finials are regularly bent by lifting the stein and hitting the
Just remember the fragility of your steins, and handle them carefully.
Cleaning Glass, Ceramic or Pewter
The following paragraphs apply only to glass, ceramic or pewter steins
surface decoration is intact. If there is any pre-existing damage,
paint-flaking, washing the stein may make it worse. Steins having a lot
surface crazing (like faience) should not be immersed for washing, as
may penetrate the crazing. Instead, these steins should be cleaned with
soft, damp cloth. Never wash wood or ivory steins; they require special
Many old steins have spent a lifetime (or perhaps several lifetimes!)
a shelf in someone's home. Over the years they naturally pick up dust
which may be mixed into a coating of tobacco smoke or cooking oils, and
will detract from the appearance of the stein. Fortunately, this is
washed off with warm water and one of today's grease-cutting cleansers,
possible assist from a toothbrush to provide some mild scrubbing action
get into hard-to-reach spots. This is especially useful around the
attachments, and for the complex surface of a pewter lid.
Most steins made of glass or ceramic have had the decoration fired on,
it becomes fused with the body. These decorations cannot be washed off.
other hand, use of an abrasive cleaner will induce scratches in glass,
or metal, and can seriously mar the surface.
Portions of the design which have been decorated with gold deserve
Gold is a very soft metal, and unlike enameled decoration, will wear
treat gold decoration gingerly.
Partially fill the kitchen sink or utility tub with warm, soapy water.
let the water get too hot, as this runs the risk of cracking the stein.
placing a towel in the water to act as a cushion for the stein during
Letting the stein soak will soften even heavy deposits of dirt and oil.
"SLIPPERY", because that is exactly what you will encounter after
placing the stein in the soapy water. It cannot be over-emphasized that
the wet, soapy stein will be difficult. Gripping it by the handle, when
possible, usually provides a secure grip. Use your hands, a sponge or a
toothbrush to complete the job. Rinse the stein, inside and out, in
and then dry it thoroughly. A few drops of water may continue to
the inside, so you might want to leave the lid cocked open for a few
the stein air dries.
Over time, if exposed to the air, pewter will oxidize and acquire a
indicative of its age. Most collectors today prefer this patina to the
shiny appearance, so polishing pewter is not recommended. However, you
pewter by washing it as described above, or by the limited use of a
abrasive (soft scrub) to remove dirt and grime. This should be done
and slowly, checking the pewter as you proceed, to ensure that no
done. Be sure to rinse the pewter thoroughly in clear water when you
Pewter is a soft metal, and it damages very easily. It also has a low
point, and it changes from solid to liquid state very quickly, so
solder it are best left to the experts. Bent thumblifts, finials and
sometimes be improved by applying heat (hot water is one possibility)
the pewter, and then gently trying to bend it back into its original
position. This must be done with patience, however, with only slight
a time, since the older pewter gets, the more brittle it becomes.
often as a thumblift is straightened another is broken off entirely, so
about this carefully before attempting it.
Exposure to Heat (and Cold)
Extremes of heat and cold induce stress in glass and ceramics, and
avoided. We noted above not to use hot water when washing steins, but
should also be taken not to display your steins where they will be
prolonged periods of direct sunlight, which can heat them up quite a
Steins are not cheap, and every collector should consider obtaining
While you may not be able to obtain coverage for breakage resulting
dropping a stein, you can obtain insurance for theft, fire, flood and
nature, including earthquakes. Try searching for "collectors
insurance" on the Internet, or contact the company that handles your