Stein Collectors International
Featured Stein: September 2023
~ A Merkelbach & Wick Kugelbachkrug ~
by Salvatore Mazzone
I have in my collection a 1.5-liter stoneware character kugelbauchkrug (potbellied stein) made in the form of a bearded knight. It carries on its base the impressed mark of Merkelbach & Wick and is identified in The Beer Stein Library as a "Knight Type 2" with a catalog number of F20. The knight's helmet, which sports a feather plume, forms its set-on lid. He is dressed in the vibrant cobalt blue, muted gray, and Cologne-brown favored by Westerwald artisans.
This form of a knight is very traditional, going back to the bartmannkrugs (bearded man jugs) of the 16th and 17th centuries that featured the faces of bearded men that represented the mythical woodland Wild Man of German folklore. Symbols of strength and endurance, the likenesses of these stern and harsh warriors were supposed to drive away bad spirits.
The inscription on the front of my stein reads: "Dieser Krug ist gemacht Daß man jubelt u. lacht Doch in geheimer Kammer Schläft Katzenjammer." Translation: "This stein has been made so that one can rejoice and laugh, but in the secrecy of a chamber sleep through the hangover."
The firm of Merkelbach & Wick was founded in 1872 in the town of Grenzhausen in the Westerwald region of Germany by Friedrich Wilhelm Merkelbach II and Georg Peter Wick. They produced beer steins and other ceramic products under that name until 1921 when the heirs of the founders went their separate ways. At that point the firm was converted to a joint stock company operating under the name Wick-Werke AG, which remained in business until 1984 .
So, has Sir Knight been doing his job of keeping the bad spirits at bay? All I can say is that since he has joined our household, I have encountered neither bad spirits of the libation variety nor of the other-worldly variety. Well done, Sir Knight!
Reference: The Beer Stein Library, Merkelbach & Wick Stein Catalog