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German Beer Stein

Stein, earthenware, 1900-1910, made by Mathias Girmscheid, Höhr-Grenzhausen, Rhineland-Palatinate, 1934.1.734.

Stein is actually an English shortening of the German word Steinzeugkrug meaning stoneware tankard. The stein’s iconic lid was first used in the middle of the Black Plague in Europe in an attempt to prioritize hygiene. Many German cities passed legislation to avoid unsanitary conditions, the covering of all liquid containers was one of those laws. The idea being that the lid would keep out infested insects. 1850-1910 is considered the Golden age of stein production. Technological advancements in glass and ceramic making as well as the expansion of industry allowed the beer stein to be massed produced. Artistically, this period shows signs of growing German nationalism. This stein depicts the Battle of Teutoburg in 9 AD when an alliance of Germanic tribes ambushed and defeated 15,000-20,000 Roman soliders. German artists in the early twentieth century depicted this battle to show the military superiority of the German people.


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