contributed by Stephen L. Smith
SCI Master Steinologist
This eight and a half inch tall stein, used for either wine or beer, was hand carved from a piece of oxen horn and probably made in the mountainous area along the two big wine producing river areas, the Rhine and the Moselle. The hand carved decoration on the body shows one heavily carved vine with its associated large grape bunch and leaf.
The base is the stein is a cut disk of horn glued to the bottom of the stein’s body. This disk is then held in place by a molded brass base, four inches in diameter, with a ridged relief design, which has cut semi-circles crimped and forced into the base of the horn to hold it on tightly, and to further seal the vessel from leaking. This is very indicative of a European style of mounting popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, thereby dating the vessel most likely to the late 1700’s.
The handle is also made from a cut strip of oxen horn, bent through a heating process, which was then attached to the body by two small brass rivets, which have been sealed on the inside to prevent leakage.
The lid is also molded brass with a very unusual, though not unique, simple hinge arrangement. A large molded brass bird of unknown type, but looking like a large Jay, probably from the local mountainous area, is shown in flight as the finial. The hand chased brass thumblift in the form of an elaborate shell is also indicative of an early date of manufacture.
German wine-steins of horn are ‘scarce’ as they become more brittle with age and subject to leakage, thereafter, discarded. From reference and collection searches over the last ten years, only one other has been seen.