Stein Collectors International

The Rastal Collection of Historic Drinking Vessels
A concise guide to the Rastal Collection, its epochs and its trends in style.

This content of this article is taken from a pamphlet published by RASTAL GMBH&CO.KG.

Rastal has created a communication centre - the Rastal Gallery - in the West German town of Höhr-Grenzhausen. In this gallery, the collection is presented in large-scale display cases. For all forms of events, facilities are available in the adjacent Rastal seminar centre. These rooms are to be found within Rastal's administration building and their design is orientated on its striking hexagonal architecture.

Werner SahmThe basis of the Rastal collection, one of the most important and largest of its kind worldwide, encompasses several thousand examples of drinking vessels in ceramics, glass, pewter, silver, wood and other materials. In time, it spans all epochs from the time of the Roman Empire to the present day.

The "Rastal Collection of Historic Drinking Vesels" was founded and expanded by the company's co-owner, Werner Sahm-Rastal [now deceased]. Based on his intensive acivities as a collector and his expert theoretical engagement with the subject, he is today an expert who has lively contact to specialists throughout the world.

A selection of some 500 items is on display, put together according to the criteria of originality, techniques, value and characteristics of areas of origin. Above all, the exhibition offers Rastal customers within the drinks industry stimulus for the manufacture of drinking vessel replicas. The much admired pieces are highly regarded as present at company jubilees, celebrations and on many other occasions. But the collection also serves Rastal designers as a valuable mine of ideas for correct style in new creations.

This article contains several German terms which have significant historical or technical meanings, so they are defined here.

Engobe - A glaze coating on ceramic vessels consisting of a clay slip applied either by dipping, sprinkling or my means of a brush. (This term is also used as a verb.)
Humpen - Cylindrical or slightly bellied drinking vessel, the base having almost the same diameter as the rim.
Knibis Decoration - Zig-zag patterns made with a wide, flat wooden stick in a rocking, see-sawing motion, impressed in the unbaked ceramic body.
Krautstrunk (cabbage stalk) - Medieval drinking vessel, its form and the appolied burls having similarity to a cabbage stalk without leaves.
Oxydizing baking - A baking (firing) technique producing stoneware with a brown surface. The feeding of oxygen combined with high temperature causes oxydization of the iron content of the stoneware surface.
Pinte - Narrow, conical jug similar to the Schnelle but smaller.
Pulle (dialect: bottle) The Pulle was manufacured during the 16th century, predominantly in Siegburg. It embodies both jug and bottle forms. The vessel has  rounded body with a flat base and a short high-lipped narrow neck.
Red (scored)-decoration - This design is made by scoring with pointed wooden sticks often combined with cobalt or manganese coloring.
Reduction baking (firing) - Baking tehnique producing grey or white stoneware. After salting and at the highest temperature the furnace-oxygen feed is stopped.
Schnelle - High, conical jug. Although characteristic of Siegburg, also manufactured in other Rhenish stoneware centres (except Westerwald) Origin of the name is unknown.


The pot bakers region (Kannenbäckerland) with the town of Höhr-Grenzhausen at its centre, lies in the southwest of the Westerwald. It is almost certain that the manufacture of ceramic wares was carried out here even in pre and early historic times. Stoneware of high standard craftsman-ship was produced toward the end of the 16th century as the local craft blossomed under the influence of immigrant potters.

Left to right: Beer tankard, early 20th C.; Small jug, early 17th C.; Pilgrim bottle, dated 1665; Teapot, 2nd half 18th C.

Spouted jug, dated 1594
Late Renaissance
(End 16th/Early 17th C.)
This time marks the beginning of a period of excellent stoneware craftsmanship. Characteristics of style are the salt-glazing of the ceramic with cobalt-blue painted decoration and precise vertical patterning on the vessels. Friezes of human figures are the most common decoration.
Narrow-necked jug, dtd. 1680
(Mid-17th/Early 18th C.)
Vessels were thrown on the wheel in one operation, resulting in forms appropriate to the material. New forms are round, pot-bellied and pear-shaped jugs. In addition to cobalt blue the new color manganese violet emerges. Decoration consists of smaller applied elements often scattered on the walls of the vessels.
Beer tankard, lid dated 1737
Late Baroque/    Transitional
(mid-18th/ Early 19th C.)
Ornamentation on the vessels is now in the more popular style. Applied decoration becomes rarer, score and "Knibis" patterning come into the forefront. Toward the end of the 18th century the quality of craftsmanship declines.
Beer boot, late 19th C.
(Mid-Late 19th C.)
Growing nationalism awakes interest in "national" styles. The tendency is toward historical forms and ornaments, vessels are made as replicas of former examples or are designed in the style of past epochs, for example, the Renaissance. New techniques make exactness of execution and higher quantities possible.
Pot-bellied jug, c. 1910
Art Nouveau
(Early 20th C.)
The Art Nouveau style was the artistic reaction to overloaded historicism. Influenced by Japanese art, the trend is toward ornamentation based on forms of nature. Experiments with new types of glazing are carried out. Stoneware manufacturers engage famous designers, for example, Richard Riemerschmid, van de Velde, Behrens and Wynand.


Left to right:

Raeren, beer tankard, 2nd half 16th C.

Siegburg, peasant dance jug, dated 1589

Frechen, bearded-man jug, early 17th C.

Cologne, bearded-man jug, mid 16th C.

Potter craftsmanship blossomed in the 16th century. Characteristics are the white to yellow ceramic body and the artistic applied decoration. Preferred vessel forms were "Schnellen," bottles and jugs. In the late 16th century, members of the leading family of potters, the Knütgensw, emigrated to the Westerwald
Cologne is believed to be the first centre where salt glazing was carried out on a regular basis. In the early 16th century the Cologne pot bakers were trend-setters. Typical forms: "Pinten," "Schnellen" and bellied tankards , with brown engobe and applied decoration. A bearded face applied to the neck of many bellied vessels gave these their name bearded-man jugs. Around the middle of the 16th century the pot bakers were forced to leave the city.
Frechen products are often difficult to distinguish from those of Cologne as many pot bakers who were forced to leave that city settled here. Favoured vessel forms were very large bellied-jugs decorated with bearded masks on the necks and with applied coats of arms.
Raeren lies close to Aachen but today belongs to Belgium. Stoneware began to blossom in the second half of the 16th century, touched off by examples from Cologne and Siegburg. Initially it was produced with a brown surface. In the second half of the 16th century reduction-baking was perfected, through which the body remained grey. A specialty of the Raeren potters was the application of pictures created by outstanding artistic potters At the end of the 16th century many Raeren potters settled in the Westerwald region.


Left to right:

Waldenburg, beer tankard, dated 1879

Annaberg, screw-top bottle, 2nd half 17th C.

Muskau, pear-shaped jug, lid dated 1699

Bunzlau, small milk jug, 2nd half 18th C.

Altenburg, beer tankard, c. 1630/40

Apart from the Rhenish centres, excellent stoneware was produced very early on in locations in Saxony/Thuringia, in Lusatia and Sillesia. In particular Waldenburg, whose potters' guild foundation charter dated 1388 still exists, deserves a similarly high placing to that which Siegburg in Western German enjoyed. The development of stoneware in central and eastern Germany took place largely independently. The quality of craftsmanship is equal to that of the Rhenish masters.
This town lies south of Leipzig, production of stoneware began around 1625. Of the diverse stoneware products, the cylindrical jugs are of particular interest, their decoration giving them the name "pearl-tankards." The ornamentation, often with folk art motifs, is made up of small applied pearl-like shapes formed from a clay mixture which burns out white.
Annaberg, situated south of Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz) is better known as a mining town. Manufacture of the blackish brown engobed ware began in the early 17th century. As many of these tankards and jugs were colourfully enamelled, they are often mistaken for Creussen stoneware. Typical are applied friezed of C-arches and finials which encircle the neck or base zone, as well as palmette application on the pear-shaped jugs.
Bürgel and Zeitz are two Thuringian pottery centres whose products are difficult to distinguish from each other. Spouted jugs are common. Colouring of the stoneware cn be compared to that of the Westerwald products. The blue tone was however achieved by cobalt smalt being thrown onto the ware during baking, whereby the characteristic runnning-colour effect arose.

As far as is known, stoneware was manufactured only during the 17th century in this Erzgebirge city. In the first half of the century mainly blackish brown engobed pieces were produced, whereas grey stoneware with fine network patterns painted with enamel colours and gilded, became characteristic for Freiberg in the second half.
Waldenburg is the oldest stoneware pottery centre in central Germany. A rich variety of forms developed. Characteristic in the 16th/17th centuries was the beehive jug decorated by means of roller dies and with excellently executed applied religious motifs or coats of arms. In the 17th century, the brown colour of the stonware was producd by oxydizing baking of the salt-glazed ceramic body.
In this lower Silesian town, now a part of Poland, pottery craftsmanship has a centuries-old tradition. As the clay did not frit at high temperatures the result was a brown glazing occasionally tinged green or blue. Typical were melon and pear-shaped jugs, the latter often with white applied decoration. In the 2nd half of the 19th centuiry the "peacock-eye" decor emerged, which is still popular today as a decoration on Bunzlau ceramics.
In the home town of Prince Pückler in Upper Lusatia on the Neisse, pottery workshops were established in very early times. Predominating vessel forms are egg or pear-shaped jugs, spouted jugs and screw-top bottles. There was an extremely rich range of decoration. Almost all vessels are characterised by slanting or vertical goove patterns on their lower halves.


This pottery centre has been renowned since the early 17th century. Its stoneware rodeucts always have a brown surface rought about by baking with pine-wood and are glazed with a black salt. Decoration with applied reliefs was common right from the start. These splendid vessels, painted by former glass stainers in bright enamel colours, were much sought after. The enamel-painted tankards with applied apostle figures or planetary allegories are among the splendours of stoneware.

At right: - Apostle tankard, lid dated 1662

Here in Hesse, close to the city of Marburg, stoneware has been produced since the 15th century. Characteristic is the reddish to violet brown half-matt surface finish of the vessels, achieved by means of a ferriferous engobe. A typical form is the high-shouldered pear-shaped jug which is sparsely decorated with patterns made by roller dies and sometimes with rings attached by loops.
There is proof that stoneware manufacture has taken place in this Lower Saxony location close to Alfeld, since the 15th century. In the main, cylindrical jugs with two areas of grooves were produced, some were engobed entirely brown or had yellow patterning on their upper surfaces. In the middle zone, a few have narrow, encircling applied decoration.
In the "faiencery" founded by Jean-Francois Boch in 1809 stoneware has been produced since 1843. The most important development in decor was chromo-lithography, a colour-printing process introduced in 1859. Blackened grooves, optically emphasizing the drawing, separate evenly coloured areas. Scenes with rich contents, landscapes, etc. could be decoratively achieved. This technique contributed greatly to the high popularity of the Mettlach tankards.
The Loorraine town of Sarreguemines has a rich tradition in ceramics. A specialty are the stoneware vessels from around 1900, whose grey ceramic is stained blue at the edges. Beer tankards often beare scenes in relief on the body as well as handles in animal forms. As well the characteristic blue tone they are someimes colour painted or gilded.
Typical of the Doulton ceramic workshops in London since 1820 is beige bodied stoneware, with half the surface engobed dark brown. The walls of the vessels are decorated with small applied reliefs.