Featured Stein: November   2010
~  Girmscheid 163 ~
“Guta Recognizes King Richard”

by  Walter Swett
Although I have been collecting Oktoberfest Jahreskrüge for several years, I have only recently started expanding my collection and branching out to other types of steins. This is a story of how I found this stein, which when I purchased it neither the seller or I knew anything about it other than it was very attractive, and then used the resources provided by SCI and others to quickly identify what I’d purchased. The research also provided me an education which will aide me as I look for new additions in the future. I hope this story will inspire other inexperienced collectors to avail themselves of the information and expertise that SCI has to offer.

I found this 1.5 liter stein at the Scott Antique Market in Atlanta. All the vendor could tell me about it was that it was a “great old German beer stein” and he thought it was about 100 years old, but he couldn’t tell me why he thought that. The stein was a full color design of a castle and it had what looked like a twisted vine handle. ( See close-up of the handle on the right.) The only marking on the base were the word “GERMANY” along with “163” and a mark that looked like either a “g.” or “9.”. There was also a mark that appeared to be from a black marker “119 S” which obviously was not an original manufacturer’s mark.  I ended up making a deal with the vendor and I took the stein home where I began my research.

First I went to the SCI Library where I found a link to The Beer Stein Library (www.beerstein.net). Once there I located the article “TWISTED VINE HANDLES SIMPLIFIED” by David Harr and John McGregor (photos by David Harr, Frank Loevi and other sources). Thanks to the detailed photographs included in that article, I was quickly able to identify the twisted vine handle on my stein as one made by Girmscheid.

The Beer Stein Library also had a Girmscheid Stein Catalog. With access to the catalog, I quickly went to Girmscheid 163 and identified my stein and the estimated value of it. I found there were actually two variations of the stein, a two color version and a full color version. The photo in the catalog was of the two color version. The description in the catalog stated “the scene on this stein shows Richard of Cornwall, newly elected Emperor of Germany, at the castle of Count Philip of Falkenstein and his beautiful sister Guta, to whom Richard had earlier promised marriage. Shortly thereafter, Richard made good on his promise and married Guta at the castle, which Philip renamed Gutenfels, in honour of his sister. “ I also learned the stein was signed by ”KB”. With this information, I did a Google search where I was able to locate the complete story of King Richard and Guta.

I found another article at the Beer Stein Library “Introduction to Girmscheid Steins” by Les Hopper and Frank Loevi which provided the history of Mathias Girmscheid and the Girmscheid manufacturing company. There I also learned about “KB” – Anton Kilian (Karl) Bueler, the artist who created the stein.

I had learned a lot about my stein, but I still had some questions, so I turned to SCI Stein Talk where I posted my questions – What was the “g” or “9” on the bottom? How old was it? I hadn’t been able to find the initials “KB” perhaps someone could tell me where to look? Frank Loevi of the Beer Stein Library soon answered my inquiries. Frank explained that the stein was first produced in 1880, and based on the coloring of mine; he estimated it had been produced just prior to WWI. He explained that the “g” or “9” was a control or inspection number that was applied prior to firing. He closed by saying the information found in the Beer Stein Library Girmscheid catalog about this stein had come from the late Les Hopper and a review of Les’ notes clearly indicated the stein had been signed by “KB”, but unfortunately Les didn’t identify where the initials were located.

With this new information I broke out the magnifying glass and after closer examination I found the “KB”. The initials were located just below the heel of King Richard’s foot  shown in the close-up below.
With this final piece of information I’m satisfied that I now have a very good grasp on the history of this new addition to my collection. I learned there is a vast amount of information available through SCI and that SCI members are very willing to share and to help educate those of us who are less experienced. I was also able to help expand the Beer Stein Library’s Girmscheid catalog by providing a photograph of my full color stein which has since been added. On a final note, I also found that I got a better deal on the stein than I originally thought I had.
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