Can You Identify The Symbolism On The Lid of My Faience Stein?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  smazzone 1 week, 5 days ago.

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  • #52830 Reply


    I have a late 18th century faience stein, which I believe is from the Thüringen region of Germany, which holds several mysteries for me (see photograph).

    1. First of all is the inscription on its lid. I am assuming that “E.R.” is likely the initials of the owner of the stein. But what is the meaning of the wheel-like symbol and what does “B = ∂” mean? From my educational background in math, “∂” would be the partial derivative operator, but I’ve never seen it used without an operand, e.g., “∂f/∂y”.

    Perhaps these symbols refer to a mathematical society, university or individual? I’ve tracked down an 18th century German mathematician, Johann Friedrich Pfaff, who worked on partial differential equations, but I have not found anything that actually links him to either the wheel or the “B = ∂” symbolism.

    The wheel looks like it might be a cart or carriage wheel, but could be something else entirely.

    Is anyone familiar with these symbols?

    2. The horse (Hanoverian?) seems to be standing on a teeter totter or seesaw (although I’ve never seen a teeter totter with a double fulcrum). I know that teeter totters are used today for training a horse to be able to deal with unstable platforms, like when crossing a bridge, and that teeter totters are one of many types of obstacles in some horse competitions today. But does anyone know if that technique was used for horse training in the 18th century? Beyond that, it appears that the horse is not standing directly on the seesaw but on undulating ground that is on top of the seesaw. What is that all about?

    Can anyone explain either of these two mysteries or suggest how I may proceed in my research to decipher them?

    18th Century Faience Stein

  • #52839 Reply



    Interesting stein. I looked through all my fayence books and didn’t find a match. I also looked at my occupational stein book, but didn’t find anything. The wheel could be for a wagner or miller. Since the horse is white, have you considered showing your stein to the school that trains the Lippazaner horses,, to see if they can help you?

  • #52845 Reply


    Hi Ron,

    Thanks for your input.

    Many old faience steins depict white (or very light gray) horses, often standing on their hind legs or jumping. The Lipizzaner horses are noted for the many feats they perform, including their stands and mid-air jumps.

    A question for you or anyone else reading this that is familiar with faience stein history: Are the horses depicted on these old faience steins in fact known to be Lipizzaners, a breed initiated by the Habsburgs in the 16th century in Lipizza (now Lipica, which is in modern-day Slovenia) and was then part of the Habsburg holdings? Or are the horses on these steins one of the German breeds of the 17th-18th centuries?

    I wouldn’t want to contact the Spanish Riding School if the horses on these steins are commonly known by the experts in fact to be a different breed.

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