Stein of the Month: August 2002
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A Stein from Villeroy and Boch Dresden

Collectors are generally very familiar with steins produced by the firm of Villeroy & Boch in their factory in Mettlach, but steins produced by their other factories are almost unknown. The one-liter stein shown above is quite scarce, being made by the V&B factory in Dresden.

As can be seen, the design consists of a grapevine encircling the upper rim, and a second garland framing the verse - Auf Gesundheit und Langes Leben - to good health and long life! This design is simple, straight-forward and very appealing. The heavy pewter lid fits snugly over the rim, and bears a Biedermeier "urn" style thumblift, a style which came into use in the second quarter of the 19th century. The closed three-ring hinge includes an oversized center ring. The lid is inscribed 1879, but the overall style and the pewter fittings, with closed hinge and thumblift mounted above the edge of the rim, suggest a somewhat earlier date.

By the early 1850's the factories at Wallerfangen and Mettlach could no longer satisfy the demands of the market, and they were constrained in further growth. Dresden was viewed as a favorable location for a new factory, both for its proximity to the markets in the north and east, and for the clay and coal deposits to be found in that area. Building of the Dresden factory was begun in 1853, and it was shortly producing "useful and ornamental objects of the most varied kind", "white and colored, printed and painted". First among its specialties were "dinner, coffee, tea and toilet services, painted blue with Onion and Saxon pattern".

Although this stein is completely unmarked, the handle shape and style were used on a series of mugs and on a few pitchers produced by this factory (see below). Those items generally carry a Mercury mark which is quite recognizable to Mettlach collectors. In fact, this same mark was used by a number of V&B factories, each placing their own name in the semi-circular banner below the name of the firm.

The more compelling reason to attribute this stein to the Dresden factory is the decorative technique (see close-up above). The leaves and vine of this decoration were painted using a silk-screen stenciling technique, a method of decoration which is seen on the popular (and much more common) blue or red "Poppy" pattern also made by this factory. An example of this pattern is shown below to the right.

Note the handle shape on this mug by V&B Dresden.

The stamped Mercury mark for the V&B Dresden factory.
A V&B Dresden plate in the popular "Poppy" pattern.

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