The vintage German beer stein originated in the taverns and inns of the Middle Ages and has been a staple of every Oktoberfest and drinking celebration in Germany’s lengthy history, becoming a priceless collectible.
The fact that there is still a thriving stein collecting society shows that the value of German beer mugs has not diminished. On the contrary, collectors are eager to spend money to add German Steins to their collections because they believe collectible beer mugs will keep their value.
However, you must own an authentic German beer stein to get the best value. But how do you know German beer steins value? Well, read on to discover more.
Brief History of the German Beer Steins
A German beer stein is a simple mug for drinking beer that originated in Germany. The name “stein” comes from the German word “stein Krug,” which translates to “stone mug.” A beer stein can be made of various materials, including crystals, glass, wood, and ceramics.
The earliest preserved German beer steins date back to the 14th century when the bubonic plague decimated Europe and claimed millions of lives.
The passage of a statute about sanitary conditions in a few German areas led to the creation of the first pieces. The covers over food and drink containers were necessary to stop a deadly sickness.
The ordinary people used a beer mug made of wood and earthenware before that, while the upper class drank from beakers or tankards made of silver, glass, and pewter. However, the black death altered several long-standing practices.
Old manufacturers began producing stoneware steins with pewter lids after the invention of stoneware. The German stein was formally recognized as a European product in the 19th century. The most typical were stoneware items with a stein lid that was always rigidly fixed.
Even though vessels with pewter fittings are still made in England today, silver, glass, and porcelain are frequently employed in their production. The variety of stein-decorating designs showcased the creativity and mastery of the top artisans of the time was the best.
Siegburg, Cologne, Frechen, and Kreussen were the major centers for pottery production. Stein production increased significantly in the 1850s, but most stein makers reduced it during World War I because of a lack of raw materials.
After 1918, stein production resumed, but most people ceased using them regularly. As a result, the production could never return to its previous level. However, after World War II, stein making kept going. They are readily accessible to visitors thanks to modern production techniques, particularly in Western Germany.
Reinhold Hanke created the first molded steins in the Westerwald region. As a result, they mass-produced beer stein after adopting molds; thus, their exquisite, intricately carved relief work was no longer distinctive.
Today, numerous businesses manufacture magnificent steins, usually souvenirs, thanks to current technology and materials.
Most Valuable Types of German Beer Steins Marking
The invention of beer steins by German brewers and potters had the most significant influence on beer consumption. But, then, authentic German steins have patriotic scenes and Folk tales as popular designs for carved steins’ bodies.
The most expensive beer steins typically share the critical quality of rarity. Additionally, they display characteristics typical of their times, such as inlay stein lids, extraordinary ornamentation, glaze colors, and distinctive, attractive designs.
The most valuable beer steins typically dated back to the 20th century and were historically significant.
Beer steins often cost between $50 and $5,000. However, several steins have been sold for more than that price in auctions.
The most valuable German beer steins are discussed in this section. We’ll also offer helpful details on beer stein’s value in the following sections:
Saxony German Pewter Beer Stein Tankard Hallmark Heavy
Beer steins did not have a specific shape; they came in various shapes and styles. German beer cups have been cylindrical since the 1700s. Each stein is roughly twiceas tall as it is wide.
Additionally, pewter is primarily used to embellish these steins. The steins’ handles, hinges, and lids were made from the same alloy. But by the middle of the 1800s, the size of decorations made of ornate metal had gradually shrunk.
Soon after, rings enclosed by glass or ceramic lids developed from ornamental pewter fittings came. Finally, German steins with larger alloy thumb lifts and covers were made cheaper in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Quality German steins still featured the traditional smaller fittings, which were lids made of stoneware.
HR Hauber & Reuther 444 Antique German Beer Steins
You can’t always tell if an item is genuinely antique because counterfeiters in today’s world are adept at making a piece look old.
However, the marks and designs on German beer steins frequently depicted biblical themes, animal-based parables, or German folk tales. Another clue is the fashion sense of the wearer.
A woman serving customers in a beer garden wears a pink dress on this mug. Typical of Hauber & Reuther is the uniquely green beer stein handles with their ridges and foliage patterns. In addition, the mug has the markings 444 German steins under it, which is German.
Vintage German Beer Stein Cherubs
Beer is traditionally served in maas, or 1 liter, in Germany. However, 0.5l and 0.2l mugs are also available. In terms of the artwork, only angels who have strategically covered their naughty bits are frequently depicted in nudist poses. An excellent example is this beer stein with cherubs dressed in sashes.
The handle of this particular beer stein bears the letter G and the model number 231. It has a couple dancing and angels. The stein’s lid is metal, but the body is porcelain. The mug is 6 12 inches wide with the handle attached, 12 inches tall to the top of the lid, and contains one liter.
Westerwald Cobalt Blue Antique German Beer Steins
A handcrafted beer stein will have human mistakes. For example, they can have strange paint flecks or colors outside the lines. Even though these defects were considered undesirable, they are helpful now. Westerwald beer steins, however, were manufactured in large quantities.
They are less valuable and unique because they were created using molds. However, as this cup demonstrates, they can still have value.
It’s a ceramic object with cobalt blue sides and a pewter lid. Additionally, its cost will probably increase because it is a handmade limited-edition item.
Antique German Military Stein With Hand Painted Pictures
Giving troops (or their families) beer stains was a sign of honor to recognize their bravery. This element increases the beer mugs’ sentimental value. The soldier’s name and rank were written on the regimental steins, making it easy to determine their precise date. That also drives up prices.
They are known as regimental Beer Steins in the military. And in this one, a soldier is making out with a woman who resembles Snow White. It has a hand-carved lid, a thumb lift in the form of a bird, and it’s hand-painted. Geschultz is written on the bottom of the beer stein.
Hand-painted steins will appear slightly flawed, but this only adds to the uniqueness and character of each stein.
Vintage Faience Beer Stein
German beer and stoneware steins were very popular by the middle of the 17th century. Silver, pewter, or glass steins with intricate decorations were sought after by the upper classes of German society, and these steins were produced in Koblenz, Koln, and Bavaria.
But there was also a lot of interest in the exquisite Chinese stein made in Germany. Faience originated from German potters as a porcelain alternative, even though European potters at the time lacked the knowledge to make porcelain.
Germans also created faience to compete with expensive porcelain imports. It was made of ceramic and had a tin oxide coating on top to give it the appearance of white porcelain. In the seventeenth century, faience became more popular.
A certificate of authenticity is useful for newer artifacts, and this beer stein has one. The cup should have an antelope or deer inscribed because animal motifs were common. Finally, the beer stein at the bottom attests to its handmade nature.
Antique Mettlach Steins With Inlay Lids
This is another valuable German stein for those who collect steins. Knowing that beer steins are precious collectibles is interesting. Although you may drink from them, their primary function was purely social and ornamental.
Therefore, a beer mug with a folktale is highly valued since it starts a conversation during a get-together or house visit.
In both respects, this beer stein excels. A musician uses his violin to appease an irate alligator in this scene, which is set amidst the pyramids. The manufacturer and batch number are inscribed in faded etchings on the bottom of the mug, which also has inlaid stein lids.
Antique Mettlach Steins “Tannhäuser in Venusberg” 1898
Vintage Villeroy and Boch mold #2401 “Tännhauser in Venusberg” 1L German beer stein, dated 1898 and produced in Mettlach, Germany.
The stein features the persona of Tannhäuser, a lyric poet from the 13th century who, according to mythology, had an affair with Venus, the Roman goddess of beauty and love, and briefly resided in Venusberg with her.
Venus is seen on her daybed in the stein, being fanned by her servant and surrounded by flying cherubs. Tannhäuser walks toward her bed, carrying a lyre and a sword on his hip with a feathered cap hanging from his back.
The scene includes a landscape, blue tiled floor, and Roman columns. One of the beautiful older German steins, this one has a 1L capacity and is very uncommon.
Antique German Stoneware Beer Stein
In the middle of the 1300s, the bubonic plague pandemic made beer steins having lids a critical safety issue. So your beer stein becomes more valuable if the lid’s hinge is functional and the interior surface is lighter or paler.
This item is a prototype, as indicated by the “P” marking on the bottom’s outside edge. It may include a poem instead of visual embellishments because of this. Due to its previous ownership, it has a few minor flaws. The stein’s sides have a yellow tint from aging, but it still has a lovely patina.
Beer Stein with Pewter Lids Made in Germany
Older steins made of crystal appear classy and delicate. Because you can see through the glass, they might be delightful if you like the appearance and feel of the beer.
However, they are more challenging to certify because you cannot stamp the beer cup without causing damage to its transparent surface.
Each mug in the set is paired with a pewter drip tray that serves as a unique coaster. Additionally, they weigh a few pounds when the tray and the mug are together. Sheaves of wheat are used as decorations on the beer mugs, while triple-hare logos are used on the lids.
Vintage Musical German Beer Stein
You may be excused for thinking this beer cup sings when you first see the item’s title! You might presume it has a built-in music box or jingle.
The poetic elements, however, are the carvings, which feature a colorfully attired male musician playing a long traditional horn.
He may be intending to serenade the woman seated next to him. However, brilliant natural scenery surrounds them, and they are clad in colorful attire.
These paintings appear hand-painted because of their sloppy coloring and intense relief. The bottom edge has scallops.
Crystal German Beer Stein with Hinged Lids
The original steins were mugs with a hinged lid and a thumb lift. A new substance known as stoneware emerged as earthenware’s refining continued.
The new non-porous material was an excellent choice for holding beer because it was chip and crack-resistant.
The relatively expensive stoneware drinking cups with lids quickly attracted the attention of Renaissance artists, who added decorations to make them even more attractive.
The 1715 Meissen Stein
The first porcelain beer mugs made in Europe were Meissen steins, produced in Germany.
Johann Friedrich Bottger, a German potter who worked in the Meissen workshop in the early 18th century, secretly created various hard-paste porcelain products, including steins.
The steins often had eye-catching ornamentation, handles, porcelain lids, and lids with hand-painted accents of birds, foliage, and flowers.
The few pieces that have survived in modern times have increased in value, and they were rather expensive during their peak in Germany.
The unique stein, which included handpainted goldcrests, attracted interest worldwide and sold for a high price. Recently sold for $26,400
Rein Zinn WWI Spiked Helmet Beer Stein
In the 20th century, Rein Zinn produced beer steins from metal, ceramic, wood, stone, or ivory steins. Their lids were usually pewter-based, flat, or fashioned to resemble a spiked WWI helmet.
However, the ones with the spiky helmet style were molded in three or four sections, making them more complex and expensive.
On Etsy, a Rein Zinn World War I spiked helmet beer stein from the 1920s was priced at $330. Soldiers riding horses and several literary features were depicted in its vibrant decoration. The stein’s worth was reasonable despite its loose top and cracked base.
Vital German Beer Stein Markings
Some stein makers liked to push information into wet clay to leave distinctive imprints. Before the clay is baked, others press in markings. In some instances, the maker may leave handwritten inscriptions on the stein.
Inscribed on certain beer steins is Gemacht in Deutschland, which also denotes the stein is one made in Germany. However, most items with these markings are antique glass mugs.
So, having discussed the valuable German beer stein markings, lets us now look at some essential beer stein markings.
Maker’s Mark: It displays the manufacturer’s name, brand logo, or trademark. This is an important marker for evaluation because certain manufacturers have a global reputation.
Military Mark: This displays the owner’s name and military rank. Older steins just carried the soldier’s last name, while more recent ones included their first name and rank.
Calibration mark: It indicates the capacity of the stein, and its role is to allow room for beer froth. Model numbers may also be a part of calibration marks.
Limited Edition Mark: Mugs made intentionally to be collections may be labeled with the occasion being remembered, the date, and the number of mugs produced.
Artistic Signatures: Many stein producers may paint their initials or signature on the beer stein. If it reads “handarbeit,” it is a handmade item that can have color overlaps.
Provenance mark: Genuine German steins have been marked with Germany, Made in Germany, or Gemacht in Deutschland since 1887. This marking sets them apart from other steins.
Identification and German Beer Stein Markings
One of the easiest ways to know the value of an antique German beer stein is from its uniqueness and original decorations. Consequently, a stein’s value increases with age. The most expensive mugs are the ones produced during the bubonic plague.
Germany passed a law requiring lids on all beer cups to stop the plague from spreading further. Inevitably, it led to the production of now-valuable steins.
You should keep an eye out for a few things while purchasing beer. First, however, you may check steins using several online databases. Here are some methods for spotting a pricey beer stein.
Condition of the Stein Lid
A mug’s lid contains a wealth of information regarding its worth. The lid is another crucial component in determining the worth of the stein. Soft silvery original metal lids formed the coverings of valuable German beer stein mugs, which makes them lighter inside than outside.
The lid gradually becomes darker when exposed to air, and the cover thus turns lighter inside and darker on top.
To make fake steins appear older, darkening substances. However, a beer stein lid darkens when they use a darkening agent.
Similarly, a stein lid’s appearance might influence how much it is worth. The majority of the costly metallic cover is from a single metal. Contrarily, many components are used to create counterfeits.
As a result, you must use caution when seeking an old stein. Some counterfeiters might offer you a phony stein with a German lid stamp.
Ornamental Lids: Pewter is always used to make such steins. These days, limited edition steins are popular with handcrafted designs.
Inlay lids: They are well recognized for having a pewter rim and flange around an ornamental stoneware, porcelain, glass, or wood figurine inlay in the center.
Conical Lids: These lids are the most widely used and least expensive models available.
Flat lids: Because manufacturers can easily engrave them, these pewter models with flat lids are popular.
A perfectly painted stein will very certainly be newer. Older, more expensive steins don’t have neatly applied paint. As a result, you will see the lines and evidence of hand painting defects.
The same is valid with paintings of naked individuals. Instead, older German steins employ paintings of angels and other mythical figures.
Most steins made by machines have a flawless finish. However, you won’t discover the intricate embellishments in handmade German beer steins.
Type of Material Used
Beer mugs have seen changes over time. Older and newer mugs are different in several ways, and due to the materials used in their construction, older steins are valued.
Silver, glass, and ivory steins are among the precious materials used to make priceless yet antique German beer steins that greatly value stein collectors. Older steins are weighty because of these kinds of materials. They also have distinct ornamentation and come in various sizes and styles.
Modern steins are lighter and constructed of inferior materials. However, if it’s your first time purchasing a German beer stein, we advise consulting a specialist.
As with other antique items, the age of a stein beer mug is crucial in determining its value. Germany has long valued beer steins as gifts, and the lid will usually bear the recipient’s date of gifting. However, when attempting to estimate an item’s age, it can be challenging to depend solely on this data.
Unfortunately, it happens frequently for someone to put an outdated lid on a brand-new stein. These dates make sense only when the other mug features are likewise consistent.
You should take note of the following periods when finding out the age of your German beer.
- Early beer steins are from the 16th to the mid-19th century
- Vintage beer steins are from the mid-19th to the 20th century
- 1900 to the 1920s saw widespread Art Nouveau styles
- World War II is referred to as Third Reich
- While the period after World War II is the Contemporary era
Also, take notice of a four-digit code that starts with 17, 18, or 19 on the side or bottom of the stein. It is a form or mold number rather than a date.
Country of Origin
A stein mug’s nation of origin mark indicates how old it is. The beer stein did not have this indication before the late 1800s. Manufacturers had to engrave a Made in Germany due to changes to exportation regulations.
You might occasionally see Germany. For example, in some instances, beer steins may be marked West Germany, which tells you the product’s range of dates.
So, if you come across a mug that doesn’t have a nation of origin label, it can be worth more than you think. You will need to check for a lot more things, though. So, you’ll have to give the mug a closer look.
A valuable German beer stein markings and other identifying characteristics are the primary means of identification. For example, when assessing the age of a stein, you could consider looking for the nation of origin. Older beer mugs, however, might not have such a marking.
You can tell if a beer stein is good by looking at the state of the lid. The majority of expensive steins feature original artwork and portraits on them. The handles of more recent steins, however, feature ridges. Older beer steins are also crafted from ivory, glass, and silver.
German beer steins of value generally come in a variety of styles. bEach beer mug took a set amount of time and several different materials to create. In all, you can consider meeting a professional to value your German beer stein.