Stein of the Month: March 2003

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A Cut and Stained Clear Glass Stein from Friedrichroda

The stein shown to the right is a fine example of the glass arts in the late part of the 19th century. The stein is mouth-blown from clear glass, then cut on a stone wheel. The base is flared and faceted, and the lower part of the base has been further enhanced by cutting. Each side of the stein is cut in a geometric design, with a diamond sunburst at the center. The central panel was stained a ruby color, then copper-wheel etched with a scene of the village of Friedrichroda, in Thuringia. This panel was outlined using the same ruby color, as were the facets of the flared base. The clear glass handle was separately applied, and a final ruby accent extends downward from the pewter strap support. The clear inlay has been formed into a faceted "bee-hive" prism.

Glass is an extremely versatile medium, allowing for great creativity. The amount of workmanship used in creating a glass stein is a key factor in determining its appeal... and its value. The flared and faceted base, the use of both wheel cutting and copper wheel engraving, the full use of the surface area, the attractive cut prism inlay, and the delicate stained highlights all testify to the thought and workmanship which went into the making of this stein.

Friedrichroda? This village of approximately 6,000 inhabitants lies in fir-clad hills at the northwest edge of the Thüringer Wald (Thüringian Forest), about 20 miles southwest of Eisenach and the famed Wartburg Castle where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German. A popular summer resort in the duchy of SaxeCoburg-Gotha, Friedroda possesses numerous handsome villa residences, a Kurhaus (spa), sanatorium, etc.

The town was founded in 1039 by Graf Ludwig the Bearded of Mainfranken. The story goes that he granted the right to clear the forest and make a settlement to a vassal with the name of Friedrich, which is how Friedrichroda aquired its name - 'Frederick's clearing'.

The nearby Marienglashöhle, a former gypsum mine, has the most attractive and largest crystal cavern in Europe.

From 1945 to 1991 Friedrichroda was part of East Germany. The Lutheran St. Blasius Church in the town center was the first church in the region to provide a forum for the inhabitants to discuss their grievances under the Communist regime. The church appears in the center of the finely etched scene adorning this stein, surrounded by other buildings in the village and with the wooded hills as backdrop. Hand-held copper wheels spinning at a high speed were used to remove the ruby staining and etch the surface of the glass, forming a highly detailed scene. A total of 35 windows in these buildings were then polished to make them clear, and the remaining ruby stain provides a nice frame for the scene.

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