|Two Inexpensive Steins of
Chris Wheeler ~ April 2004
In this article Chris Wheeler shares with us two steins
from his collection, each of which offers an interesting history lesson.
It all started 10 years ago when I inherited my father's
stein, a Marzi &
Remy 2029 purchased new in 1952. This was to replace one that got
father's stein, which had been handed down by his great grandfather.
it was nondescript and brown, dated early 1800's, and probably worth a
today. When the perpetrator was confronted and told how old it was, his
reply was, well it's about time you bought a new one!
My grandfather, on my father's side, hailed from Gaildorf,
coming to the UK in the late 1880's, settled in London raising 7
changing the family name from Wiessner to Wheeler. He fought in the
on the same part of the same front and on the same dates as his
brother, who was
on the opposite side in the Kaiser's Imperial Army. They only found out
the war that they might have been shooting at each other!
My great grandfather on
my mother's side was born on Heligoland, an inhabited island
mile square in the North Sea, 40 miles off the Danish and German
colourful geography and history are ably described on the web-site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heligoland.
In 1890, when my great grandfather was a young man of about 25, Queen
and the Kaiser, or more accurately their minions, decided to exchange
territories. The British gained Zanzibar (East Africa) and in turn lost
Like most Heligolanders my great grandfather was a seafarer,
in fact a ship's
engineer. However he did not like the Germans (or perhaps the Germans
like him; we are not sure), so when the exchange took place, he decided
leave. The British government of the day, in their wisdom, gave
full British citizenship provided they worked for five years on the
since the general population, at the time, was gravitating towards the
This he did, and, when his time was served, he ended up finally using
engineering skills, working at the Gloucester Wagon Works making
vehicles. He never returned to the sea! It was fate therefore when I
purchase a black handled Marzi & Remy with the island of Heligoland
painted on the front. The legend underneath says "Helgoland," its
German name, which would indicate that it was painted after 1890. I'm
old man would turn in his grave if he knew I had this stein.
from the Views of Germany Photochrom Print collection held by the
Congress shows the same view of the island with greater detail (below).
visit their site (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/mdbquery.html)
and search on the word "Helgoland" you will be taken to a page which
lists a number of additional views of the island which are contemporary
stein. Sadly, the island, which was used as a naval base, was heavily
1945, then used as a bombing range between 1945 and 1952, so these
gone forever. Today the island has been rebuilt as a vacation resort.
Germanic connections, it is not really surprising that I should be
My interest is in steins which are visually appealing, but not
exotically expensive. They must be older than me (no clues given), with
potentially interesting history for me to research. I always imagine it
to find out whether anyone famous, or notorious, has drunk from them.
$500 Mettlachs for me, unless I can buy them in mint condition for a
certainly none of those cobalt blue salt glazes that look like they
were made by
a 5 year old in the 1850's. Also my shelf space is limited, so I am
operate a "stein bought necessitates a stein to sell" policy. However
my wife has not yet spotted that on some shelves the steins are two
It was a good day therefore when I spotted an etched stein on
$20.00. I eventually won it for $30.00 from some "eejit" bidder who,
judging from his previous purchases, was intent on buying ballast. It
Eckhardt & Engler mark on it and my research started there.
-----and this is what I have found out!
Although this stein was manufactured and marked by Eckhardt
& Engler, the
model was first produced by Rosskopf & Gerz. These two firms, both
in the Westerwald village of Höhr, share a tangled history, which we
Rosskopf & Gerz (R&G)
was founded in 1901 by potter and designer Karl Wilhelm Rosskopf in
with businessman Alois Jacob Gerz. Both of these gentlemen already had
background in the stoneware industry, having been employed by the firm
Reinhold Hanke, and their wide range of products "in the newest modern
German style" was met by a ready market. In 1905, following the
of Rosskopf, A. J. Gerz expanded the firm with the addition of a pewter
and decorating studio. The firm was successful with a range of artistic
utilitarian products, and enjoyed a good reputation until the pressures
first world war forced them into bankruptcy in 1917.
The firm of Eckhardt & Engler (E&E) was a few years
R&G, having been founded in 1898 as a wholesaling and finishing
businessman Peter Eckhardt and his brother-in-law, Ernst Johann Engler.
employed 12 pewter-smiths and 14 painters. In 1907 R&G turned to
market their products, and the companies enjoyed a mutually profitable
symbiotic relationship. In 1914 E&E took over a small pottery firm,
acquiring a small kiln as well as their product line. After R&G
financial difficulties at the beginning of the war, E&E purchased
their moulds which they then placed into production, marking them with
E&E trademark. This explains why we come across steins which are
known to be
from the R&G line but which bear the E&E mark. The original
mould numbers were retained. E&E bought the remainder of the
in 1922 or 1923.
My stein appears in an
R&G catalogue supplement published in 1914 as model 455.
other R&G catalogues have been uncovered, and it is believed that
supplement is the only company document to have survived to present
R&G version of this stein can be seen in The Beer Stein Library.
The form or
mould number appears between the handle attachments of both steins.
E&E version) has a different handle and different coloration than
R&G original, and it also shows some wear to the mould,
particularly in the
moulded relief bands above and below the main tableau. Based upon the
practice of assigning mould numbers in increasing order, and noting
company had registered model 460 by the end of 1904, we can conclude
model dates to that year. Since E&E first acquired some of the
moulds in 1918, we conclude that this stein was produced no earlier
and probably no later than 1939. Most of the E&E steins bearing a
number less than around 900 are traceable to the RuG catalogue. Other
with higher mould numbers seem to have been designed specifically for
E&E finally closed their doors circa 1971. I understand that many,
all, of the RuG & E&E moulds are now in the hands of KING-Werk
It is known that the following designers contracted to produce
RuG: Kilian Beuler, G.K. (name unknown), Albin Müller, Leonhard
Görig and Bruno Mauder. The latter four followed the Jugendstil style,
therefore it is unlikely that any of those designers had a hand with
However the firm did employ in house "artist-designers" two of whom
being Franz Willems and Albrecht Simonis, and it could have been one of
who designed R&G 455.
As a footnote to the tangled history of the firms of R&G
and E&E, one
of the moulds attributed to R&G was apparently used to produce a
bearing a Girmscheid mark! While it is possible that the origin of the
have been misidentified, we are left to speculate how this mould wound
up in the
hands of the Girmscheid firm.
It always gives me a good feeling when I know as much as it is
know about the steins in my collection. They take on personalities of
and are not just pots on a shelf.
The research I have carried out was not original since there
are many helpful
experts out there, who have already done a lot of the hard work and
necessary reference books. Therefore it is both educational and cost
to join one or more of the organizations dedicated to stein collecting.
acknowledge articles written, and help given by Frank Loevi of the Beer
Library, Walt Vogdes of Stein Collectors International, together with
Gray, whose texts I have heavily leaned on, plagiarized and in certain
downright copied! Thanks to you all.
& Gerz, Steinzeugfabrik - Stoneware Factory" by Frau Dr. Beate
Zeschwitz, self-published in Munich in 1982.
Steinzeug des Jugendstils 1900-1914", Doctoral thesis by Frau Dr. Beate
Dry-von Zeschwitz, Munich, 1993.