Featured Stein: July 2008
A Marquetry and Enamel Decorated Stein Previous

Der Kater ist ein gimmes Tier
Der Hering der ist gut dafür.
The tomcat is a fearsome creature
The herring, that is a good cure.

Here we see a hand-blown clear glass stein with a green band of marquetry and an enameled scene and verse. Marquetry, as explained by SCI Master Steinologist Ron Fox in an article in Prosit in June 2004, Is the artistic technique of fusing two pieces of glass of different colors, as an item is made.

After the glass blower was satisfied that the clear glass body of this stein was the desired size and shape, he added a decorative stripe of green glass around the midsection. This operation had to be performed while both pieces of glass were still hot from the glass furnace. He used a hole in the side of the furnace to apply additional heat as he worked, in order to keep the glass from cooling. The next step was to fire polish the marquetry application by spinning the body against water soaked wooden paddles, reheating it periodically to maintain the plastic state of the glass. This had the effect of pushing the green glass into the surface of the clear glass body, and in fact, although the exterior surface is even, there is a distinct bulge on the inside resulting from this operation. Next the handle was applied, attaching it at the bottom first. Although it cannot be seen in these photos, the upper handle attachment actually covers a portion of the marquetry band.

An annealing kiln is used to slowly cool glass to room temperature where it can be handled without any special precautions. At this point the body was turned over to the enameling shop for further decoration. The white enameled cats on the dark green marquetry band are quite striking. Two cats stalk a herring which is seen at the very front center of the stein, and above and below the green stripe is the verse given below the photo above.

Next stop was the addition of the pewter, which might have been done in a separate workshop within the glass factory, but more likely was done by a separate firm. At some point before it was sold the pewter lid on this piece received a presentation inscription - "To our dear Muscel on 20 August 1912 from the Bowling Club 'Fortuna' in Berlin."

But of course, we can't stop the description now. What is the meaning of the cats and the herring? The word Kater, or tomcat, also means hangover, for which herring are a traditional cure. This particular bit of symbolism is often seen on beer steins, because so many of us are familiar with the problem!

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