Stein of the Month: September 2007
~ An August Saeltzer Stein ~
by Chris Wheeler

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For a long time I have coveted a stein by August Saeltzer! However, every time I have seen one for sale there has always been a last minute feeding frenzy, taking the price well beyond my means. When I saw this piece I knew I had to have it. I loved everything about it: the highly detailed copper casting Katzenjammer scene inset into the pewter lid, the shell thumb pull and the massive 3-ring hinge. The strong but simple hand-painted design in a beautiful blue with burgundy red detailing reminded me of peacock feathers. Every delicate pen & brush mark seemed as if it was done yesterday and Saeltzer's ornate mark on the base was one of the best I had seen. The translation on the front in old German script reads as follows:

  Iß was gar ist,        Eat what is cooked  
  Trink was klar ist,        Drink what is clear  
  Sprich was wahr ist,        Speak what is true  
  Lieb was rar ist.        Love what is rare  


The August Saeltzer factory in Eisenach was in business under various owners from 1864 to 1930, producing a mix of earthenware table items. Herr Saeltzer himself passed on in 1880. They decorated bought-in stoneware only between 1870 and 1908. The guesstimate of the date of my stein would be c.1880 - 1885.

However, to the auction! There was no maker's attribution in the description which boded well for me; the Saeltzer experts would have difficulty in finding it. This proved correct during the auction as the number of "lookers" was a lot lower than I would have expected. Never has seven days gone so slowly. Toward the end of the auction I placed my bid, which was more than I wanted to spend, more in desperation than expectation. Imagine my elation when I won, and at a price one would pay for an old relief Marzi & Remy! It seemed like I was enjoying seven Sundays in one week. A few days later, I opened the parcel containing my precious stein to find that it was absolutely perfect. Just a little soap and water restored it to "as new" condition.

Gazing on my acquisition later that evening, I could imagine the pride of the original purchaser as they left the shop. Had it been a gift to a loved one, or for a presentation, or just someone treating themself? I will never know, but I am grateful to whoever it was for starting its eventual journey to my front door.

References:
"The August Saeltzer Factory" by Ron Fox. 1998
"The Stein Reference" by Chris Wheeler


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