Stein Collectors International
Featured Stein ~ October 2020

A Relief Stein with Student Motifs, form 2092B by Merkelbach & Wick

By Walt Vogdes, Pacific Stein Sammler

This half-liter relief stein bears the trademark of Merkelbach & Wick and the form number 2092. This was aparently a popular body style and theme, since The Beer Stein Library shows it as form number 2092B, along with a variant 2092C, while an original MuW catalog shows variants A, C and J, raising the possibility that there are 10 variants in all. The primary difference in the four steins for which we have images is in the center panel.

  • 2092A - a man wearing a hat in a seated pose
  • 2092B - male and female figures wearing student garb
  • 2092C - head and shoulder images of three students
  • 2092J - a verse (Hast du Kater ist mein Rath...)

The original catalog picture of form 2092A shows the same image as above of a cat in the left side panel, as does the depiction of form 2092C in The Beer Stein Library. Although these sources show only a partial view of the right side scene for the other variants, it appears that the image of a fish (herring, a popular cure for a hangover) may have been used on some.

The central image of this stein (2092B) is of a man wearing the cap and sash of his student fraternity, while holding a foaming stein of beer. A young woman wearing the same cap has her arm around him with her hand resting on his shoulder. The monkey and cat symbolize the beer drinking habit and a hangover, respectively, while the Paragraph 11 symbols around the base refer to the drinking code originally established at Heidelberg University. More about these symbols can be found in the Reading area of this site.

It was not uncommon for images of student life at the onset of the 20th century to include women wearing caps and sashes of student associations, or even waving swords. However, the inclusion of women in such scenes was motivated by affection, not by bonds of fraternity. At that time, student fraternities were restricted to men. Actually, "restricted" is too strong a word, since very few women were able to enroll in university at all. Women who were present in university settings were for the most part domestic help. This changed dramatically over the course of the 20th century, to the point that women have taken their place as students alongside the men. However, student associations remain as single-sex organizations in Germany, just as we have fraternties and sororities in the US.