by Ronald E. Gray
While this still may be the dog days of summer, this is one cool dog. Actually, the dog days of summer have nothing to do with man's best friend. In ancient times it was thought that stars helped heat the sun. The brightest star in the Canis Major constellation, Sirius, rises and sets in conjunction with the sun during some of the hottest and muggiest days of summer. Since Sirius is known as the Dog Star, this period is referred to as the dog days of summer. The period runs for 20 days before and after the conjunction, which now runs from July 3rd to August 11th.
The Schierholz Student Boxer stein was made circa 1900. He must have a pretty good pedigree as he sports a student association Stürmer (the style of cap) with a Zirkel (a combination of initials generally representing the first letter of the association's name and motto - see the reference cited below to see how they are drawn) on top. If it was a dueling association, the rival's Schläger (a straight-edged cutting weapon without a point) or curved saber would be no match for this dog's incisors. Thanks to Frank Loevi of The Beer Stein Library for providing a picture of this interesting character stein. That site has an article on the Schierholz firm as well as a catalog featuring the 115 different character steins attributed to Schierholz. Some of these steins come in more than one size. Membership is required to view the catalogs on that site, but registering at that site will allow you to review some articles and preview the catalogs for free. The Student Boxer does not appear in any of the known Schierholz catalogs and only one example of this stein is known to exist. By now you have probably identified the tune you have been hearing that was made famous by Patti Page, How Much is that Doggie in the Window. Well Patti, as the saying goes, some things are priceless and this has to be one of them.
The owner is so proud of his find, and rightly so, that he treats him just like a member of the family, carrying a picture of him in his wallet. The Student Boxer stein was one of twelve steins featured in a contest for best stein in the September 2003 issue of Prosit. Not surprisingly, it was selected as the Stein of the Issue and was featured in an article in the June 2004 issue of Prosit.
Schierholz steins are generally marked with the word "Musterschutz." Some also contain the blue hash mark of Schierholz. Before Schierholz was identified as the manufacturer, these steins were referred to as Musterschutz steins, although that word can appear on other steins as it means registered patent, copyright or registered pattern. Since the firm was located in Plaue, Thuringia, which found itself on the wrong side of the iron curtain after World War II, identifying the firm was difficult. Ron Fox, Master Steinologist and SCI's editor for Prosit, was the one to trace down the manufacturer. Since its founding in 1965, SCI and its members have been able to amass a vast amount of knowledge and information about antique German beer steins. Except for Mettlach, stein information was scarce when I started collecting steins in 1967. Although C. G. Schierholz & Sohn Porzellanmanufaktur Plaue was formed in 1817, it did not begin stein production until the late 19th century. The firm name was changed after the family was knighted to Von Schierholz'sche Porzellanmanufaktur Plaue GmbH around 1900. The firm stopped producing steins about 1930, but began reproducing some of the character steins from the old molds around 1986. Schierholz's reproduction brochure credits modeler Edmund Hasse as the designer of their original character steins. According to Schierholz, Herr Hasse also had a hand in the design of Neuschwanstein castle. Schierholz was sold to Seltmann-Weiden in 1995 and still operates today, but steins are only a small part of their business. Gary Kirsner Auctions has some of the new Schierholz character steins for sale. Knowledgeable stein collectors can generally distinguish the new steins from the old steins. Unfortunately, the Student Boxer is not among the new steins being reproduced. I contacted the Schierholz firm and Constantin von Schierholz was able to confirm that the Student Boxer was a special order stein, but he could provide no further details.
The Boxer was bred in the latter part of the 19th century in Munich, Germany. It is a cross of the English Bulldog (generally white) and the German Brabanter Bullenbeisser (generally fawn or brindle with a black mask). This represented the first serious breeding of dogs by the Germans. The founders of the breed formed the Boxer Klub in Munich in 1895. The Klub establishes standards for purposes of breeding. Brindle and fawn are the basic colors, although the English Bulldog has resulted in the introduction of white in the breed. This is an undesirable trait and Boxers with more than 33 percent white or white showing in prominent places cannot be bred as a Boxer.
Some believe that showing the Boxer as a member of a student association means that it was special ordered by a student association. Student associations kept dogs as pets and there are drawings showing the dogs dressed in the garb of an association. The Zirkel, however, has not been identified. In addition, most student association Zirkels have an exclamation mark at the end, which represents the Latin symbol for eternity, something lacking in this Zirkel.
I think the Boxer Klub of Munich also could be a likely candidate for the special order of this stein as a means to honor this new breed of dog. The Boxer was bred for the elite and depicting him as a member of a student association would be a way of signifying that eliteness. Perhaps the Zirkel represents a motto for the Klub or a name of a Boxer. George Alt of Munich imported Alt's Flora, a brindle bitch, from France, which led to the breeding of the modern German Boxer. With some imagination, you can almost see that name on the cap of the Schierholz Student Boxer stein. While the zirkel appears to begin with the letter "Y," it might be a highly stylized "F." The Boxer Klub of Munich and interested boxer owners might form a larger population than a student association, which could help justify a special order of steins.
I tried contacting a couple of members of the Boxer Klub of Munich to see if they could shed some light on this stein, but have not received a reply. Perhaps some of our German-speaking members, particularly those near Munich, could contact the Boxer Klub of Munich or some of its older members to help solve the mystery of this stein. Contact information is listed in reference 7 below. Maybe they can uncover further examples of this stein. If we do enough sniffing around, some stein hound will surely solve the mystery of who special ordered this stein.
1. The Dog Days of Summer: click here to learn what this term means
2. Der Zirkel of Atisia Lucernensis: http://www.atisia.ch/zirkel.htm
3. The Beer Stein Library: http://www.beerstein.net/home.htm
4. Seltmann-Weiden/Schierholz: http://www.seltmann-weiden.de/
5. Gary Kirsner Auctions: http://www.garykirsnerauctions.com/
6. Short History of the Boxer Breed: http://americanboxerclub.org/boxer_history/full-hist.htm
7. The German Boxer: http://www.bk-muenchen.de/english.htm