It was love
at first sight when I saw my first three-dimensional stein by WW-Team.
The Wartburg Castle Tower Stein (figure 1), eleventh in the limited
edition collector series of Germany's Most Beautiful Citadels, Castles,
and Buildings, portrays the historic and beautiful Wartburg Castle in
Weimar, Germany, where Martin Luther translated the Bible into German.
To celebrate its historic significance, the castle's legendary turret,
balconies, corner towers, brick-look walls and walkways have been
recreated on this 12" tall, 3/4 liter stoneware stein. One side is
concave with a Weimar city street scene, while the front has a
hand-painted courtyard scene of the historic castle.
My next WW-Team
stein was Frankfurt's 1200 Year Anniversary (figure 2),
the fifth in this same series. Honoring Frankfurt's 1200 years, this
stein is sculpted in deeprelief, centered by the famous Roemerberg,
Frankfurt's City Hall, in a winter setting. The hand-painted lid
includes an inlay of the town square, complete with fountain.
My third WW-Team stein is the Neuschwanstein Castle,
(figure 3). Ninth in this same series, the stein is hand-crafted and
hand-painted, brushed with sparkling snow-glitter highlights. Rising to
an overall height of almost 11", the pewter lid is inset with a molded
miniature of King Ludwig's fairy tale castle.
There are a total of 11 steins in this limited edition series
celebrating Germany's Most Beautiful Citadels, Castles and Buildings.
Production is limited to 9,000 for each stein in this series:
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
2. Rothenburg Clock Tower
3. Munich City Hall
4. Sanssouci Potsdam Castle
5. Frankfurt 1200 Year Anniversary
6. The Rheinland - Cologne-Koblenz- Rudesheim
7. Nürnburg Christkindlmarkt
8. Brandenburg Gate
9. Neuschwanstein Castle, Winter Dream
10. Black Forest
11. Wartburg Castle Tower
The next stein I would like to tell you about is part of The Romantic
Germany series, which pays tribute to the romantic and nostalgic
aspects of Germany not-solong-ago. These well-known subjects, rich in
heritage and tradition, are listed below. (This is all the information
on this series that I have at this time; as I get more I will report
it.) Fifth in this series is the Alpine Chalet Stein,
standing 10-3/4" tall. The dramatic three-dimensional stoneware relief
depicts a charming snow-covered chalet and ski resort. The pewter lid
is topped with a resin figurine of a train emerging from a mountain
tunnel, and skiers on the slope with a leaf-motif pewter thumb lift.
Production of this stein was limited to 9,000, which I believe applies
to all steins in the series:
2. Falkenstein Castle of King Ludwig
3. Oktoberfest (Munich)
4. Rheingold Train
5. Alpine Chalet
6. Old Time Mechanic's Garage
I will tell you about other WW-Team threedimensional steins at another
time, but now let's take a look at the company which produced these
steins, and the recognition they have received for their products.
WW-Team, or WesterWald-Team, was established in 1985 by present owners
Hans Peter Eisenkopf and Joachim Malessa in Höhr-Grenzhausen, Germany.
Both gentlemen were employed in the ceramics industry in this area for
many years. Frustrated by the inflexibility and long decision-making
times of their companies, they decided to establish their own firm. By
doing this, they were able to be more flexible and innovative, and
react more quickly to events and trends in the marketplace. While
WW-Team is directly responsible for concept, design and marketing of
these steins, they contract with other German ceramic firms to do the
actual stein production. This arrangement is becoming more prevalent in
contemporary stein production, as it allows use of existing facilities
and capacities instead of building new ones.
With new concepts and designs their products were quickly accepted by
beer stein collectors throughout the world. It was not long before they
had to move the premises to Hilgart, and after five years the expansion
was so great that they had to move again to Ransbach-Baumbach in order
to cope with production demand.
In 1992 WW-Team produced the Santa Maria Memorial stein, their first
three-Dimensional work (figure 5). This stein marks the 500th
anniversary of Columbus' voyage to the New World (1492-1992). The high
relief of the body reveals many fine details with new perspectives
offered from every viewing angle. The lid includes a finial miniature
of the ship in antiqued pewter. This stein received the Award of
Excellence in 1992, category Beersteins, f r om Collector Editions.
[Ed. note: Collector Editions, published seven times a year, focuses on
contemporary collectibles. Their annual Awards of Excellence recognize
and encourage design and production excellence in collectibles.
Judges nominate up to six pieces in a variety of categories, and the
winners are selected by mail vote of the readers of the magazine.] One
year later the Neuschwanstein Castle Stein in 3D, became the second
stein to receive the Award of Excellence from Collector Editions. This
string of recognition continued when the same award was given to the 3D
Railroad stein Rheingold in 1995 (figure 6).
Capping this string of awards was recognition of Neuschwanstein Castle,
Winter Dream, as Best Contemporary Character Stein in judging at the
1996 SCI Convention in Harrisburg.
WW-Team innovation includes the use of different materials (e.g., lid
figures in pewter and brass), and clocks, glass, snow-glitter, etc.,
thereby offering new artistic impressions and increasing the
desirability of their «teins. Collectors have reacted positively to the
new collector steins, in particular to the use of a genuine piece of
the Berlin Wall on the lid of the Original Berlin Wall Stein (edition
limited to 2,000). Great interest was also shown in the use of a
miniature stoneware replica of the train on the lid of the Rheingold
In the middle of 1996 with the London Stein, WW-Team began the
international 3D series, Famous Buildings and Cities of the World.
The London Stein has since been followed by New York and Paris. Future
editions will include Rome, Moscow and San Francisco.
The special value of the original WW-Team Collector's Steins is
underlined by the low limited editions, a certificate of authenticity
supplied with each stein, and the kiln-fired base stamp. Figure 7 shows
the kiln-fired base stamp and individually numbered WW-Team mark.