Stein Collectors International, Inc.

~ Charmed by Three Dimensional Steins ~

by Paul A. Clark

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, Winter Dream (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:

1. Brauhaus
2. Falkenstein Castle of King Ludwig
3. Oktoberfest (Munich)
4. Rheingold Train
5. Alpine Chalet
6. Old Time Mechanic's Garage
7. Motorcyclist

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 Train Stein.

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.