by Stephen L. Smith
SCI Master Steinologist
The Scandinavian or Baltic Sea area wooden stein shown as our "Stein of the Month" is 10 inches high and 6 inches in diameter. When it comes to wood, collectors are most familiar with the Scandinavian "burl wood" steins with a carved lion as the thumblift and three lion or ball feet, or the heavily carved, very early steins such as the "peg tankard" shown as the May 2000 Stein of the Month (which can be viewed by clicking the link to the "Archives", above).
This beauty’s interior was hand lathed (turned on a wheel) and the outside design was done using different colors and types of wood veneer. I'm told that the large section of the stein to the viewer’s right (seen most clearly in the upper body area) and the handle-tang combination are "Birdseye Maple Burl". The nine, 2 ˝ inch tall baluster pegs were also turned on a lathe and then screwed and glued into the body. The "burl" handle was completely hand carved, and is reminiscent of the custom pistol and rifle grips used for tournament shooting with very nice feeling to the touch, and a well-done finish. The handle’s top section is held to the body by a tiny wooden, turned, "screw" (which if the photo was larger might be seen) just inside the carved "U" area. There is a custom made five-part hinge, the hinge pin capped with a dark stained, decorative wooden cap. Part of the hinge extends upward to become the entire thumblift and continues forward to meet the body as what we collectors call the "tang". The rim of the lid is formed as a "twisted wreath", using the same darker color as was used to cap the hinge. This body of many separate parts is partially secured by two large straps of wooden cane work, called "withes".
Purely based on condition I estimate this stein as being made in the first quarter of the 20th century. My review of 25 years of stein-auction catalogs and extensive reading has not netted anything of similar appearance, or even closely resembling it. I consider this stein to be possibly unique, maybe constructed during one of those long, dark, cold Baltic Sea winters.
This stein is part of the Stephen L. Smith Collection: "From Which To Drink"