Featured Stein - May 2017

Frank Poppie's Miniature Silver Sailor Character Stein

Adapted from Prosit, March 1996

A Mini-Beer Stein Cottage Industry

by Frank Poppie

In today's world of mass production, the artist and craftsman have important roles. They craft the prototypes, and the art work sells the product. The product may even be considered art in itself. As an example, I would assume that Ceramarte has an art department with many fine artisans. But, in today's "Corporate America," the cottage artist is of little con­sequence because normally his/her pro­duction is limited.

Do beer steins relate to the cottage art industry? I do know that this craftsman relates to a mini-stein industry.

About twenty years ago I learned to make silver rings using the lost wax method. Over the next ten years I handcrafted all types of silver and gold jewelry. Since the mid-1980's, silver and gold mini-steins have been my specialty. I then began crafting small (about 2") char­acter beer steins that mirrored steins in my own personal collection (see figure 4).

As of today, the mini-steins I cast are my own cottage art. Each little beer stein is handcrafted at my home. It should be noted, however, that contemporary artist Debby L Engle fashions the first wax model of many of my character steins. Over the last twenty years, most of my work has been purchased by members of SCI. That long term patronage is responsible for my small cottage art business. It is my hope that I'm produc­ing some of tomorrow's antiques. Only time will tell.

The investment aspect of buying objet d'art from any cottage artist is a gamble. However, in 1976, my silver Lowenbrau mug sold for $20.00. Currently, my silver mini-steins sell for $100-$500. It is my belief that contemporary art, including beer steins, are as valuable as their sell­ing price. With time and usually the death of the artist, a new market value will be realized. Then the value may go up or down. The collectors of tomorrow will determine the value of today's efforts.

"Thanks" is an understated word. So, MANY THANKS to all the stein collectors and friends whose patronage enables me to prosper as a cottage artist.


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