Stein of the Month: May 2006

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Mettlach "Cameo" Stein #2714
by SCI Master Steinologist Walt Vogdes

Mettlach's so-called "cameo" wares are quite distinctive in appearance, and they employ a combination of techniques. The 0.3 L stein seen here shows three courting scenes. The framework surrounding these scenes is etched, as are the design elements on the lid inlay and the handle. The scenes themselves, which are in low relief against (in this case) a blue background, have a filmy, somewhat translucent appearance. In "The Mettlach Book" Gary Kirsner explains that these reliefs are formed from a finer clay selected for its porcelain-like properties, allowing subtle shadings of coloration. At the edges of the relief, where the material is thinnest, the background color shows through, giving the reliefs an appearance similar to the gemstone or shell cameos from which these pieces get their name.
A close-up of one scene from this stein shows the translucent quality of the relief.

(Does anyone remember Ruth Buzzi (Gladys) and Arte Johnson (Tyrone) from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In?)
This stein, model #2714, was first produced in 1900-1901, and this particular example is dated 1901, a time when the Art Nouveau aesthetic, seen in the framework, the inlay and the handle, was rapidly gaining in popularity.

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