|This article was originally
Prosit, the official journal of Stein Collectors International, in
1968. New illustrations have been provided.
The author, an SCI Master Steinologist, was the Executive Director and
Editor of Prosit from 1978 to 1993. Jack developed an identity crisis
Munchner Kindl, limiting his collection to steins featuring the beloved
of Munich, and appearing at many SCI conventions in full costume.
|We begin by looking at
Munich Child steins. Any stein bearing this figure celebrates the city
in the state of Bavaria. All three of these steins also show the twin
the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, perhaps the most
building in Munich. Note also the Frauenkirche thumblift on the
the left, one which is quite common on Munich steins.
All stein collectors are familiar with the picture of a child, dressed
cowl, with radishes in one hand, a filled beer stein in the other,
devilishly from a stein decoration. The saying on the stein is usually Gruss
aus München, or translated, "Regards from Munich". But how many
collectors know that this figure is really a semi-comic take-off of the
Here are a few historic notes about Munich, its coat-of-arms, and the
Child (Münchner Kindl):
The first written proof of Munich as a small settlement of monks dates
1158 A.D. With the increase of the population, the town administration
a constitution of the council. Soon a seal was used to prove the
town-council documents. The oldest seal of Munich, of which only
left, with the presumable inscription "Sigillum Civitatis Monacensis"
and the picture of a monk wearing an open hood, appears on a document
of May 28,
In the course of the following centuries a number of slightly varying
representations of the seal were used. But all of them show the monk
book (of city laws) in his left hand, while his right hand with three
outstretched fingers is held up. Next to most of these seals is shown a
gate and an eagle, which, in the fourteenth century, is replaced by a
the coat-of-arms of the reigning dynasty of the Wittelsbachs). For some
monk was represented in profile, later full-face and bare-headed.
Colorful representations of the town coat-of-arms go back to the
century. From then on the features of the heraldic figure began to lose
serious character, the face became more youthful, the hair sometimes
The present form of the official coat-of-arms with a monk in black
(law) book and blessing in right hand, was given to Munich by the
Louis I, on September 16, 1834.
At the request of the Magistrate of the city, King Louis II (he was the
who, in 1886 was drowned in the lake of Starnberg) granted minor
changes in the
coat-of-arms on June 11, 1865, from his castle at Berg (the book and
the monk were given a red color). Since that time no further
have been made.
not known when the "Munich Child" (Munchner Kindl) appeared in
the coat-of-arms for the first time or who gave it the sympathetic
representations of the fifteenth century already show the child figure
of the monk. The metamorphosis was not brought about by some order of
sovereign, but instead by artists, by the seal and copper engravers, by
sculptors and painters who transformed the old bearded town-monk into a
curly-haired child resembling the Christ child who appears with
on the altars at Christmas. A medallion which the town gave in 1577 to
Brotherhood of crossbow marksmen, as well as painted "cartoons" of
1579, show the "Munich Child".
The most charming impression is given by a miniature, dating to 1686,
town law book showing the "Munich Child" with a red halo. These old
representations of a child instead of a monk are among the possessions
Historical Museum of the City of Munich and the City Archives.
The good humor and
inexhaustible fancy of Munich artists of the second half of the
century added various supplements to the image of the child: a laurel wreath, a
beer stein, radishes and pretzels.
These humorous additions made the Munchner Kindl the well-known
and guardian spirit of the city and its festive events. I
In the scene to the right, the Munich Child sits atop the shoulders of
competitor in the VII. Deutsches Turnfest held in Munich in
1889. The two
seem to have switched their normal burdens, as the man holds out two
steins, while the Munchner Kindl raises two barbells!
Interesting differences in the representation of the child are
rule rather than the exception. The child appears with and without hood
with radishes in either hand, with the book of law or a pretzel, with
extended in a blessing or holding barbells at a Turnfest.
For a long time the "Munich Child" was a boy who did not deny his
artistic descent from the town monk. Around 1890, Munich artists, in
of the fin de siecle, began to represent the child as a girl.
But the child figure
in the seal and on the steins has no official character. The monk-head
graces the official seal!
Nevertheless, apart from all heraldic art and science, the merry Munchner
Kindl represents a phemomenon in the history of civilization. And
that the next time you drink from a Munich stein you will recall this
history and metamorphosis of the "Child of Munich".
"Der Monch im Wappen", Verlag Schnell & Steiner,
"Münchens Stadtwappen und das Münchner Kindl", by Ernest
von Destouches, in the periodical Kunst und Handwerk, Vol. 10,
Personal communications from the Office of the Mayor, Munich.