Stein of the Month: October 2005

~ HR 436 - The Jester ~

Steins with jesters are well known, although not common, and the fool who employs a mirror so others may observe their own shortcomings is a common figure in German literature. The jester is frequently captured in pewter as a thumblift on our favorite collectible, and he can occasionally be found as part of the main decoration of a stein. HR 436, an etched half-liter stoneware stein, is a great example. The stein contains a single scene extending from handle to handle, with the words of a verse at either side. In the center of the scene sits a jester astride a beer barrel with a lyre in his right hand and a mug in his left. The mug is being filled by a monkey pouring from a serving stein, seated on top of a panel containing a verse.

The left portion of the scene provides the evidence that this rascal is none other than Eulenspiegel, German prankster of lore and legend, complete with the symbols of the owl and mirror from which his name derives. This pictograph, displaying the two symbols alluding to both Eulenspiegel's name and his calling, virtually shout, "Till Eulenspiegel's here!"

The verse on this stein provides a fitting observation about Till Eulenspiegel, who played the fool himself in order to expose the foolishness in others:
The drunkard drinks and often thinks
he hates the noble brew.
Yet, when he's through,
he knows that he's
been made a fool anew.
For more information about Till Eulenspiegel, click this link to read an extensive article in the Library - "Till Eulenspiegel - The Merry Prankster."

Photo credits to John McGregor.