Stein Collectors International

This article is a "two-fer": two articles which are so closely related that they have been combined into one. The first part, titled "The Babies Stein," examines a stein made by the firm of Reinhold Hanke ca. 1900. In Part II we learn about "The Story Behind the Babies Stein." The inspiration for the Baby Stein was provided by Georg Schöbel's oil painting (below) which is signed and dated (18)98 in the lower right corner. The painting was sold by Bonham's of London in 2010 for £2,400 (approximately $3,879). Click the image to enlarge.

~ The Babies Stein ~

by Ginger Gehres

The folklore and culture of many countries refer to the stork as delivering babies to expectant mothers and fathers, but where did this story come from? 

The stork is the official bird of Lithuania and it is also seen as a good luck symbol throughout Europe. Storks treat their own young with caring and kindness, and many tales have been written about the wisdom of these birds. Even Hans Christian Andersen wrote about a stork delivering a fairy princess out of a swamp. And what about the Vlasic pickle stork? He delivers, too!

Maybe then, that's the reason for the story on this stein. The stork is reading a letter from the nervous and expectant parents-to-be. The floor is littered with other letters, each filled with the wishes of the anxious new parents - a boy or a girl, and perhaps some special talents or future for their child. The stork must choose each baby wisely and deliver that "special" one to each waiting household. 

Take a look at these little "bundles of joy", each waiting to be matched up with just the right parents to appreciate his or her special gifts...

Stein Translation: The stork's sample warehouse.

A King or Ruler

An Artist

A Soldier?

A Jailor or Watchman?

A Scholar perhaps and a female with a bag full of money? What do you suppose they are doing with those bottles?

A Thief and a Merchant or Judge?

The first is grabbing for another baby's bag of money and the second has scales and law books.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor,
Gentleman, Apothecary, Plough-boy, Thief.

Soldier brave, sailor true,
Skilled physician, Oxford blue,

Rhyme Learned lawyer, squire so hale,
Dashing airman, curate pale.

Army, Navy, Medicine, Law,
Church, Nobility, Nothing at all.

-English Nursery Rhymes

Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief,
Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief

-American Version

A laird, a lord
A piper, a drummer,
A stealer of beef.

-Scottish Version

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor.
Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief!

-Old English Version

Poems of Work Chosen by Helen Plotz. All taken from "Saturday's Children"

Which baby would you choose? Aren't you glad you're not a stork?

Henry Burgwyn, member of SCI and the Carolina Steiners,
provided this stein for photographs which were taken by the author,
who also performed scanning and graphics.

~ The Story Behind the Babies Stein ~

by Ron Gray

The Babies Stein, mold 1276, described by Ginger Gehres in the first part of this article has appeared in numerous stein auction catalogs, although none identified the maker. I have also seen the stein offered multiple times on ebay, but none of them have shown a manufacturer's trademark, only the word "GERMANY" in a straight line. The Beer Stein Library includes this stein in the Reinhold Hanke catalog under the title Stork with Babies. Frank Loevi states that some of these steins do carry the Hanke mark and that the arched "GERMANY" we identify as Hanke came into use later. In the What's New section of The Beer Stein Library, Frank shows a new "tell" for determining Hanke steins. It shows "GERMANY" followed by a period in a sans-serif font. He does not state the source of this attribution.

Edwin BormannNot only is there a story behind this stein, there are actually 36 stories, most likely written as poems, in a book authored by Edwin Bormann. The title of the book is "'S Buch von Klabberstorche." Edwin Bormann was born in Leipzig in 1851 and died there in 1912. He was a learned man with a wide range of interests. He was a poet, composer and author. His book’s ranged from children’s books to works on Bacon writing Shakespeare’s plays. Being from Leipzig, his book was written in the Saxonian dialect. This then accounts for the spelling difference between the main title on the book and that on the stein. My copy of the book does not show a publication date, but it is circa 1900, some sources cite earlier dates in the 1890s. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate an English translation of the book. The illustrations look intriguing and two of the stories are about Lohengrin and Julius Caesar. The book must have been quite popular in its day. In the late 1890s an all-female vaudeville act known as the Harrison Sextet incorporated the babies into their promotional materials. I found a Harrison Sextett postcard stamped 1899 that included a picture of Jean Priver, Impresario, their promoter. This led me to a listing in an 1895 Theater Almanac of vaudeville acts, including Priver as promoting The Six Sisters Harrison, thus disproving my initial assumption that they were a circus act due to where I had found their poster.

book cover 

The illustrations in the book were done by George Schöbel, a famous painter from Berlin. To learn more about him, Google “Schöbel-Archiv” and then click on translate. Shown above are the cover of the book, and a poster promoting the Harrison Sextett. Below, the contents (Inhalt) pages showing the 36 stories in the book, and a page headed by a drawing of babies hung on pegs indicating each baby's destiny. In the book the hats, which indicate the baby’s future occupation, are at the top of the rack whereas on the stein and the painting they appear on the babies along with tools of their trade. The book was apparently reprinted several times, as there are a variety of publication dates in the 1890s found on the Internet. Walt Vogdes discovered the painting which is shown at the top of this revised article. It appears that the book was originally published earlier than the painting, from which it seems that the drawing in the book was the conceptual basis for both the painting and the stein.

As Paul Harvey, my favorite radio commentator, would say, "Now we know the rest of the story."

Contents Page 1

Contents Page 2

2nd page of the first story