to Detect Stein Repairs ~
by Master Steinologist Ron Fox
(Prosit, March 1989)
The one thing I am asked about most often as I travel
stein collectors across the country is how to detect stein repairs.
is one that should be addressed in Prosit so that the majority
collectors can learn how to spend their money more confidently.
Being an avid collector since 1973, I learned how to detect and repair
types of steins, and have gone so far as to design and make a
character stein from start to finish. I therefore feel competent to
subject with authority.
Most stein repairs are hidden beneath a coat of paint. Therefore you
first learn how to tell a painted area. When inspecting a stein for
repairs there are certain areas that are more vulnerable and most
contain repairs and painting. These would include the base, the top
inlay lid, the handle and any protruding parts. You should also inspect
areas where the lid and body meet. In general usage, these are the
susceptible to damage and repairs.
Years ago, stein repairs were painted with a lead-based paint. These
were easily detected with an ultraviolet or "black" light. However,
since about 1970 most ceramic repairs have been done with lead-free
are undetectable under a black light. Aging lead-based paint repairs
yellow over the years, making them easy to spot. Even the newer 2-part
repairs used to achieve a glossy surface generally turn color and their
hue is a dead giveaway. But when these telltale discolorations are not
how can you detect the newer types of painted areas? Well, there are
methods of detection you can employ. You must learn how to use your
keenly. You must not only rely on your sense of sight, but your sense
and smell as well.
First, good lighting is a must, with natural sunlight being the best. A
color match will be obvious to most people in this light. Detecting a
repair will take a much more serious study of the stein. First, examine
stein for any suspicious areas. Use your fingers to feel any texture
differences: Glazed repaired areas will have a slightly tacky feel to
whereas original glazed areas will have a smooth, glass-like feel.
repaired area will have a warm feel when held up against your lip
(which is very
sensitive). Original decorated areas will have a cool feel. If a
is found, then the "pin test" will surely answer all doubts. Take a
pin and lightly press it against the suspicious area. If it starts to
dig in and
leave an impression, your suspicions are correct. It is important to
that the original decoration was fired onto the stein, whereas the
merely paint on top of the original surface used to camouflage the
area. A drastic method of detection would be the use of a paint remover
would remove any unfired painted areas. Though I know some collectors
used this method for years, I cannot recommend it as you can also
silver and low-fired enamels. Another reason not to use paint or nail
remover is that an acceptable repair is usually preferable to one which
When a repair is completed, the paint will dry and any exterior odor
disappear. If the interior was repaired and the lid has been closed for
period of time, a paint odor will still be noticeable long after the
repair has been completed.
There is no substitute for knowledge. If you know what the colors
look like and feel like on a particular type of stein, you will less
fooled by repairs.
In addition to the above detection methods, I feel it is wise to deal
reputable dealers who know steins and stein repairs. A written receipt
describing the stein’s condition is another safeguard, along with
privileges, if un-noted repairs or damages are discovered. While even
experienced expert, who handles thousands of steins, can miss a repair,
honest, reputable dealer will honor his commitments.