Featured Stein: August 2009
~ Naval Reservist Stein ~

by SCI Master Steinologist Ron Heiligenstein

This featured stein is typically called “that navy stein with the Neptune lid.” That description is largely accurate, since this navy stein does in fact feature Neptune, the Roman god of water and sea, majestically sitting right there on the top of the stein, holding a pewter trident in his right hand.

But this stein represents a lot more than just an unusual naval reservist stein, for it was “named” to an important Imperial German Navy armored cruiser, the S.M.S. Gneisenau. Dedicated to the great military reformer Generalfeldmarschall August Graf von Gneisenau, the Gneisenau, along with sister ship S.M.S. Scharnhorst, was launched 14th June 1906. Soon thereafter they were assigned to the German East Asia Cruiser Squadron, based at Kiautschou on the east coast of China, under the command of Admiral Graf von Spee. 

Three months after the Great War started on 1st August 1914, the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst and the light cruisers Nürnberg, Dresden and Leipzig, were in the South Pacific off the coast of Chile, where they encountered and sunk British armored cruisers H.M.S. Good Hope and H.M.S. Monmouth. After being refused entry to Chilean ports, those German ships passed through the Straits of Magellan into the South Atlantic. Desperate for coal, they headed toward the Falkland Islands. Awaiting them on 8th December 1914 were the British battle cruisers H.M.S. Invincible and the H.M.S. Inflexible plus three armored cruisers and two light cruisers. Thus began the (first) Battle of the Falkland Islands. 

Although the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst drew first blood, it quickly became apparent that the German’s were outgunned, and therefore they attempted to disengage. But the British would not be denied their revenge for the sinking of the Good Hope and the Monmouth. Scharnhorst was the first to go down, followed by Gneisenau, Nürnberg and finally the Leipzig. Of a crew of 764 on the Gneisenau, only 190 sailors survived the battle.
Shown above is a close-up of Neptune holding court with a mug of beer. The picture of the bare chested native girl is very common on navy steins, as is the Imperial German Navy battle flag (left) and the Imperial German flag (right). The side panels depicting various naval scenes are shown below.






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