decor of the stein #2075

Old Mettlach jugs / beer steins as an art object

The Germans and the beer drinking , 2 things that somehow belong together.  At the end of the nineteenth century, this was so and has been preserved up to the present time.  Beer halls and gardens were always a part of german national culture, especially after the German / French War (1871) and the subsequent foundation of the new empire by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Beer jugs / beer steins developed into symbols of national pride.

Powerful decors with pictures from the Germanic legends, noble knights with graceful armor and the portraying of funny drinking scenes were intended to express the glorious past as well as the sense of conviviality, comfort and joy of life.

The jugs / beer steins which were made in Mettlach , met the time-spirit in this era.  They were small luxury items , which were proudly placed in the shelves of the inns but also on the fireplaces of a smoking room, thus attesting to their owners a particularly good taste.  And if you are looking at the many emigrants who had emigrated from Germany to America, who had taken many Mettlach beer jugs or bought them later, it was these products from Germany that kept many a part of his homeland.

Most of the Mettlacher jugs were produced quite simply in the 0.5L size and served in particular student connections , clubs (it is estimated that 1885 almost every second man was attached to a club) and certain professional groups as a drinking vessel.

Although the price of ~ 2.50 Marks was appropriate, it was not cheap for most citizens, considering that a tradesman earned on average about 30 marks a week.

As a special gesture for regular customers, the owners of pubs placed a Mettlach jug gladly on shelves which then are filled with with beer when the costumer cames in the pub.  Thus, with its Mettlach ceramic jug, one jutted out between the many ordinary pewter and glass beer steins and that gave him a good feeling and kept the owners of pubs family the regular guests :-))

The more elaborate, much expensive Mettlach beer jugs could also used as drinking vessels, but many were probably placed as a special ornament in a living room or a study. This was certainly due to the quite high prices, but also because they were regarded as " art objects " which one wanted to treat accordingly well.  So it is also understandable that many of the beer jugs did not even know an "existence" outside a pretty glass case.  This is also the only way to understand the very good condition of many Mettlach objects today.

In conclusion, the decors / motifs on a Mettlach pitcher took up Germany's efforts at that time for a national identity.  It was the idea of the formation of a fatherland with one language and one culture that was revived in 1870 during the Franco-German war (after the humiliating defeat against the Napoleon's armies at the beginning of the 19th century).

On the one hand, the modernity and efficiency of the German economy, the empire, and the powerful army were praised, which was reflected, for example, in special stein decorations for mail, railway, telegraphy, and the Imperial and Prussian eagles. On the other hand, the depiction of Germans from antiquity, the crusaders and the hunters was made to patriotic images whose "masculinity" gave a special expression to the political unification of sovereign states and free cities.


1. Mettlacher Turm (edition: July 1999, no. 77): Association magazine of the Mettlacher Steinzeugsammlerverein, Artíkel: Drinking in the art: Mettlacher jugs and related objects, page 1-4, Autot: Dr.  Therese Thomas

post 1856

jagdszene 1690

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