|~ An FFST Stein ~
By John Piet
The Deutsches Turnverein (German Gymnastics Association) was founded in the early 1800s
by a school teacher, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (commonly known as Vater Jahn
- Father Jahn), as a means of
insuring that German youth
would be fit for the upcoming struggle for German unity. Their motto
was "Frisch, Fromm, Fröhlich, Frei" (Hardy, Pious, Cheerful, Free), which was symbolically
displayed on steins, posters, post cards, and other memorabilia as four "F"s laid back to
back and top to top, forming what at first glance appears to be a cross (fig 2). Turnerverein
steins are popular with many collectors and are usually referred to as "4F steins". The
steins usually depict gymnasts, the face of Vater Jahn, or what appears to be a victorious
athlete, holding his club's flag, the salutaion "Gut Heil"
(Good Health), and of course the
4F symbol. A typical 4F stein is shown below (fig 3).
The Turnverein generally excluded the lower classes and foreigners, leading blue collar workers to form their own Gymnastics clubs. Near the end of the 19th Century, a socialist gymnastics association was formed calling itself the Arbeiter-Turnerbund (Workers Gymnastic Federation), adopting the motto (Frisch – Frei – Stark – Treu) (Hardy - Pious - Strong - True), and the salutation "Frei Heil" (Hail Freedom).
Featured this month is a nice porcelain from this latter socialist organization. These steins are commonly referred to as an "FFST steins", the letters deriving from the changed motto. FFST steins are very similar in appearance to 4F steins and without close inspection can easily be mistaken for a 4F stein. In fact this particular stein was identified as an ordinary 4F stein in an auction catalog, but several sharp eyed collectors were not fooled. The differences are clearly shown in figures 1 and 2. On the FFST stein, the four "F"s are replaced by a an "S" overlaid by back to back FF"s and laid top to top with a "T". The salutation "Gut Heil" has been replaced by "Frei Heil".