Featured Stein: August 2008
A Student Association Stein Which Isn't
by John Piet

At a quick glance, this month’s featured stein would appear to be a German student association stein. The stein is made of faceted blown glass, the front of the stein dominated by an elaborate coat-of-arms surrounded with tattered mantling. On top of the quartered shield is a knight’s helmet topped with a plumed crest displaying the colors black, white, and red. Look at the picture of the shield below. In the lower right hand quadrant there is plainly a Zirkel, a special type of cypher most often used by student associations. In the other three quadrants we see the same colors redisplayed, a Prussian eagle, and an unusual symbol in the upper right quadrant. This format is common to the great majority of student association steins. However, look at the inscription surrounding the coat-of–arms.

3. Komp. Telegr. Batt. No. III, Coblenz
             Otto Heuser.
             1905 – 1907

We can expand this in German to ”3. Kompagnie Telegraphen-Bataillion Nr. III,” or in English, “3rd Company Telegraph Battalion No. III.” This battalion was raised on October 1, 1899 in Koblenz and had companies garrisoned in both Koblenz and Darmstadt. The battalion's first commander was Carl von Verner, and the battalion saw considerable action in the First World War.

Knowing this, when we look at the top right quadrant of the shield we now recognize the telegrapher’s symbol. The Zirkel becomes self explanatory with the stylized TB standing for Telegraph Batallion, and the 3 and III are the company and battalion numbers. This stein belonged to Otto Heuser, who served his two years as a reservist in Koblenz from 1905 to 1907.

What appears to be a student association stein, is in actuality a regimental stein. I have been collecting steins for just a few years, and in that time I have only seen about half a dozen such regimental steins. In all cases, however, the stein belonged to a reservist from a Telegraph Battalion. Other collectors I have spoken with cannot recall having seen a regimental stein designed like a student association stein that was not from a telegraph unit.

What was it about the reservists in the telegraph units that made them want to copy the student society format for their steins? I don’t know the answer, but I will propose a couple of possibilities. One, could reservists placed in the telegraph units been drawn from the most educated recruits – those who may have spent some time at a university or technical school and become enamored with the student life style? Two, could telegraph recruits have been sent to a training school that was associated with, or near, a school where the recruits would come in contact with the student associations? I would like to try something different here, and solicit your ideas on this question. I would also like to hear if you have a regimental stein like this that is not from a telegraph unit. You can email me at jpi1941@aol.com, or just post your comments to Steintalk, referencing this article.

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