The Reading Room of
Steins - A Pictorial Essay ~
by Master Steinologist Walt Vogdes
In this pictorial article we will look at a variety of student
association coats-of-arms (German, Wappen),
steins, lids and inscriptions.
If for no other reason, student association steins are collectible
because of their bright colors and badges, and the sense of history and
tradition they convey. These beautifully decorated steins were common
gifts between members of the same association, and they signified a
special and lasting bond of friendship. Factors which add to their
desirability include Zirkels
on both body and lid, and an inscription which includes the date and
names of both the owner and the presenter, the names being followed by
the Zirkel of the
association. Occasionally, in perhaps 1-2% of the cases, we see a stein
displaying the Wappen of two
associations, usually side-by-side. In most cases where two Wappen appear, the Zirkel in the inscription will
reveal that both men belonged to one of the associations (presumably at
the time of the presentation) and one belonged to both of them. This
would occur when a student began his studies at one school where he
joined his first society, then continued his studies at another school,
joining the second association. A second possibility is that the Wappen represent two societies
which merged at some point, and chose to display the arms in
combination from that point forth. Triple-Wappen student association steins
are also known, but very rare.
||The Wappen seen at
far left is that of Corps Hassia Giessen. A dedication on the body dates it to 1887.
The heavily enameled arms to the right, surmounted by swan and banner,
and featuring a harp on the shield, belongs to the
Polytechniker-Gesangverein Hannover. There is no inscription to provide
a date or other identifying information.
|In the photo at right, left to right:
A Mettlach half-liter stein, form 1526, decorated on the body with a
large Zirkel for Akademischer Turnverbindung Arminia Berlin.
A porcelain stein displaying the arms of Katholischen
Studentenvereine Arminia Bonn. The inscription is for the winter
A Mettlach half-liter, form 1526, with a Doppelwappen. The arms to
the left are those of Giessener Wingolf, while those on the right seem
The dedications on student steins need to be examined carefully, as
they often reveal considerable information. The inscription at right
appears on the stein in the center above (Arminia Bonn). It indicates
that Karl Wirsel, a member of three different associations, presented
this stein with affection to Karl Bohn. The inscription indicates that
Wirsel was a mentor of Bohn's, a special relationship lasting for life.
at left are three clear, blown glass steins with enameled student
association decorations. The bodies are faceted, and the panels
and frosted. Each of the steins contains an enameled dedication between
upper and lower handle attachments, with dedication, names, Zirkel(s)
From the left, the societies are Saxonia Münster i. W.
Stauffia Berlin (1905), and Germania Tubingen (1901).
|The three blue and gray transfer decorated
student steins were designed by
Franz Ringer. From left to right they depict articles of student life;
the fox, a student society initiate with arms wrapped around his stein
of beer; and a dueling student,
chasing the owl of learning away from his beer stein with his sword.
The absence of a Wappen makes these steins much more difficult to
The signatures on each stein are shown in the insets.
At right above, this relief lid is on the Ringer stein to the left. The
design is a "generic" shield with helm, mantling and crest. The shield
contains the same Zirkel as the body.
The thumblift is an unusual figural lion with the shield of Bavaria in
The stein at left is for a
student choral society in Munich. The copper
inlaid lid which repeats the Wappen shown on the body is particularly
nice. The pewter thumblift is the Münchner Kindl, ubiquitous symbol of
|Right, two student steins produced during the Jugendstil era.
Both steins bear the braungeflammte
(brown flamed) glaze which was popular beginning around 1908.
The stein on the left identifies the society name as "Frisia,"
although I have not been able to identify or date it further. The
pewter lid incorporates the thumblift directly into the relief design.
On the right, a stein by R. Merkelbach. The arms belong to Kurhessen
Marburg a.d.L., and the association name appears on the side. An
inscription is enameled on the rear of of the stein, with date of
|Student societies continue to preserve tradition and a sense of identity and honor, to the present day, and most of them have their own sites on the internet.|