of the Month: October 2005
~ HR 436 - The Jester ~
Steins with jesters are well known, although not common, and the fool who
employs a mirror so others may observe their own shortcomings is a common figure
in German literature. The jester is frequently captured in pewter as a thumblift
on our favorite collectible, and he can occasionally be found as part of the
main decoration of a stein. HR 436, an etched half-liter stoneware stein, is a
great example. The stein contains a single scene extending from handle to
handle, with the words of a verse at either side. In the center of the scene
sits a jester astride a beer barrel with a lyre in his right hand and a mug in
his left. The mug is being filled by a monkey pouring from a serving stein,
seated on top of a panel containing a verse.
The left portion of the scene provides the evidence that this rascal is none
other than Eulenspiegel, German prankster of lore and legend, complete with the
symbols of the owl and mirror from which his name derives. This pictograph,
displaying the two symbols alluding to both Eulenspiegel's name and his calling,
virtually shout, "Till Eulenspiegel's here!"
The verse on this stein provides a fitting observation about Till Eulenspiegel,
who played the fool himself in order to expose the foolishness in others:
The drunkard drinks and often thinks
For more information about Till Eulenspiegel, click this link to read an
extensive article in the Library - "Till
Eulenspiegel - The Merry Prankster."
he hates the noble brew.
Yet, when he's through,
he knows that he's
been made a fool anew.
Photo credits to John McGregor.
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