WESTERWALD TOBACCO JARS

(TABAKTOPFEN)

by Peter Willis
 

In the years before World War I and for a short time after, the famous Westerwald region of Germany was not only producing beer steins. At this time, pipe smoking and chewing tobacco was very popular and tobacco crops were seen all over the German countryside. It was off course all but logical that the stein makers would make use of this market and introduced various tobacco jars into their catalog lists.

A typical feature of these jars was that in the inside of the lid, there was a recess which could house a special sponge material (Humidor), when this was soaked with water (or even better rum), it made sure that the climate in the jar was ideal place for storing tobacco.

Apart from being used for tobacco, the housewife on the other side quickly adapted the jars for other useful things, they were used for example, as cookie and candy jars for the Sunday afternoon Kaffeezeit. Because of this, the stein makers could now reach other potential (feminine!) buyers who normally had no interest in buying and using a beer stein.

Art Nouveau , Historical and Franz Defregger designs which were being used for the beer stein production now appeared on tobacco jars. S.P. Gerz, Marzi & Remy, Thewalt, Eckhardt & Engler and Merkelbach produced large numbers of these jars and various German tobacco companies ordered special salt glazed jars as custom articles with their own personal brand designs.

The way of smoking changed in time and one by one the jars disappeared from the market. There is no more stein maker that still lists this product and today the few that survived time are a much sought after collector’s item in Germany, especially even more when the lid is still intact.

I would like to present a few Tabaktopf models from my collection to illustrate these rare stoneware jewels from the Kannenbaecker Land in Germany.
 
Eckhardt & Engler Gerz
Gebrüder Jung Marzi & Remy
Merkelbach Thewalt
 
             The tobacco jar  at top was made by Gerz.
 
 
 
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