An Unusual Brewery Stein from
the Jugendstil Era
by Master Steinologist Walt Vogdes
German brewery steins undoubtedly number well
into the thousands, and they are highly collectible. The stein featured here was
produced in 1909 by the Westerwald firm of Reinhold Merkelbach for the Königsbacher
Brauerei of Koblenz. The stein bears the circular trademark of this firm
with the words "R.MERKELBACH" and "GRENZHAUSEN", along with
a capital D which was some form of production control mark.
The Königsbacher Brewery seems to be among the very first
to have issued an "annual" stein, a practice that they carried on for
a number of years. The relief goat's heads make it clear that this stein heralds
the annual arrival of Bockbier, making the term "Bock" in the
words encircling the rim unnecessary. A bold and handsome decoration in the blue
and gray colors, the stein is unusual because of its other characteristics.
In the early 1900's the Westerwald stoneware industry turned to the arts
community for new designs in an effort to break out of a slump and to be able to
penetrate foreign markets where ceramic works from France, England and Japan
were far-outpacing German works. Seeking a new artistic direction, designs were
purchased from prominent Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) artists, sculptors and
architects, as well as students and graduates of the new ceramics tradeschool in
Höhr. These were top-to-bottom designs, including body shape, handle, lid and
decoration, not simply an illustration to be incorporated on a standard body.
The shape of the body and the handle of this stein, as well as the
non-traditional form of the pewter lid, are in stark contrast to the traditional
straight-sided Bayrische brewery steins.
L. M. K. (Ludwig Moritz Karl) Capeller studied at the School for Applied Art
in Munich from 1903 to 1905, following which he gained renown as a teacher and
innovative artist. While still a student he produced a number of designs, at
least 11 of which were acquired and executed by Reinhold Merkelbach (form
numbers falling within the range of 503 to 516). Of particular interest relative
to the stein featured in this article is Capeller's form number 503 (no photo
available). Although form 503 was produced with a different design, the body,
handle and lid were adapted to use in this brewery stein by the addition of the
bock's heads and the words below the rim. Thus this 1909 annual brewery stein
has its artistic foundation in a design by a well-known Jugendstil
As a footnote, it is known that a design by Richard Riemerschmid, famous Jugendstil
applied artist, was similarly adapted for Königsbach Brauerei in 1904,
form 1729. I do not know of other designs which may have been similarly
"hi-jacked", and would be happy to learn of any.
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