Collectors International, Inc.
by Jack G. Lowenstein (dec.)
SCI Master Steinologist and Former Editor of Prosit
Published in Prosit in June 1986
Girmscheid is clearly all about drinking. The monkey, a common symbol
over-indulgence, is enjoying his pipe with his Masskrug bearing
paragraph 11 symbol.
|This etched stein
paragraph 11 symbol on the end of the keg of beer.
shows the § 11
symbol in Roman numerals on the back of a chair in a student Kneipen.
|The § 11 symbol on
of the 11th SCI convention stein (Milwaukee).
The deeper we dig, the more information we
following is taken verbatim from the book, "100 Years of Brewing",
The Western Brewer, H. S. Rich & Co., Chicago/New York, 1903 (pp.
"Beer Drinking Customs at the University of
We will now turn aside from the consideration of statistics, for a
spell, to consider the beer-drinking customs of this old and famous
which are, in a large degree, typical of the practices in vogue at
institutions of learning (and good fellowship) in Germany.
The beer code, or Bier-Comment of the Senior University,
as it is officially known, has passed through several revisions and
since 1829. In common with other university beer codes, however, the
laws begin with paragraph 11. Paragraphs 1 to 10 are left blank, being
presumably the ten commandments of the Old Testament. The eleventh
commandment of Heidelberg University reads: Es wird fortgesoffen,
freely translated, "Keep on drinking."
According to the code a kneipe table, or society of drinkers,
consists of a president, or senior student; juniors, known as burschen,
or fellows; and freshmen, or foxes. The president manages the
maintains order and decides the punishment meted out to offenders
laws of beer. That the latter responsibility is a heavy one may be
it is known that a single section enumerates twenty-seven cases of
find, and another twelve more in which the offender is liable to bier-verschiss
(beer excommunication). There are other more heinous offenses for which
punishment is both excommunication and fine - the latter always payable
The wretch who has lost his beer honor is indeed a pitiful case. Being
declared under the ban by the president, he is forthwith "chalked
down" (by a beer-honorable fox, as already described) with the
title, bierschisser, on the black-board, the pillory of
drinkers. From this ignominious position he can only extricate himself
"fighting out" after the manner to be hereafter explained. Meanwhile
he can take no part in the musical diversions of the evening; he must
participate in the mysterious rite known as "rubbing the salamander";
he can not act as beer judge, umpire, or witness in a beer trial; he
challenge any one to drink, or "drink in response" to any one who may
challenge him; and generally he is in a very bad way.
To relieve himself of these painful disabilities, the beer-outlaw gives
notices, through a beer-honorable bursch (for he is in to
condition to do so in his own person), that he desires to "fight out",
and inquires who is willing to act as his antagonist. Four champions
consented to do so, each is provided with a full tankard, and four more
provided at the cost of the delinquent) are placed before the
himself. Four times in succession, with five-minute intervals, he must
tankard, one of the opposing champions each time doing the same with
his, or in
default, himself falling into beer-excommunication. The beer-outlaw,
come up to time and emptied his four tankards, is again declared
The description of these quaint customs continues, going into the
of beer-drinking and the general behavior with which one conducted
within the kneipe. The rules and regulations were extremely
but most conducive to serious beer drinking! SCI members such as Frank
Terry Hill and Art Chapman, no doubt would have gotten themselves into
continuously - but would have fought (drunk) their way out of the
without difficulty and with much delight.
And remember, all this was penned in 1903! As far as we are concerned,
will gladly go along with the definition of that famous Paragraph 11
here: Keep on drinking!