Relief Stein with Student Motifs, form 2092B by Merkelbach & Wick
Walt Vogdes, Pacific Stein Sammler
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.