Stein of the Month: April 2007
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~ The Gooseman of Nuremberg ~

by Charlotte Whitham
This article is an excerpt from "Castles and Other Buildings, Germany's Walled City of Nuremburg" by Charlotte Whitham (December 2005). In this excerpt Charlotte talks about a long-anticipated first hand view of the Gooseman of Nuremberg.

The first morning we woke up in Nuremberg, I could not wait to see the famous Nuremberg Gooseman statue. Les and I had breakfast and decided to find the statue. After breakfast we headed for the Court of the New City Hall. Each of us was excited to see the famous statue. When we got there we looked around, where was he? We could not find the statue. This was the plaza listed in the guide book. It has to be here. Finally we were walking by a fence. Les looked over it and said "here he is." I ran over and looked in and there was a statue but there had to be a mistake. This little statue could not be my Gooseman. He was so small. Could this be the famous statue? Why was he behind the fence? After a short discussion we decided that this was our man. The little Gooseman or Gansemannchen Fountain is small but very life like. It is made of bronze. It depicts a peasant who is holding a goose under each arm. Water jets out of the beaks of the geese. On the upper part of the base there is a fish spouting water. I have to remember quality is more important than quantity. The Gooseman of Nuremberg is one great statue, but he is surrounded by one ugly fence. To me it looks like this beautiful statue is in jail. I know the citizens of Nuremberg are trying to protect this statue, but I don't remember many of Germany's great statues with a fence around them. I want to say, "take down the fence", but I do know the possible danger to the statue so I better learn to live with it.

According to SCI Master Steinologist Kurt Sommerich, in the Dec. 1981 article "The Gooseman of Nuremberg", the statue was sketched and planned by Albrecht Durer in 1500. Albrecht Durer is considered by many to be the most illustrious son of Nuremberg. In the16th century Hans Peisser, a renowned wood carver, carved the "Little Gooseman from Durer's plans. This statue became the model for Pankraz Labenwolf's beautiful bronze statue (top, right).

Who was that Gooseman? I thought he must be some famous man or local character. It is believed that he was a farmer from the Nuremberg area. He of course raised geese. It is believed that he had a drinking problem, and his thirst brought him to Nuremberg with the geese. He carried them, one under each arm. Once he arrived he sold the geese and probably spent his money on wine or beer. If the character steins of the Gooseman are at all accurate he was also a very handsome man. He probably was a local character and left a lasting impression on those who met him. Lucky man, he has one of the most famous fountains in Nuremberg to honor him.

The Gooseman of Nuremberg is depicted on numerous steins, beautiful lithophanes and many thumblifts. Two nice porcelain examples are seen to the right; the one at the bottom was made by Amberg, the one above that is of unknown origin (thanks for this identification go to David Harr).



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