Old beer steins have been around for hundreds of years. They have provided a decorative way to store beer and a smart way to drink, but, originally, they were also used for sanitary reasons to keep germs out of the brew. Beer steins of yesteryear, especially in Germany, were a symbol of status. Beer steins came in all types of materials such as pewter, wood and glass.
History of the Beer Stein
It is said that the beer stein originated during the 14th century when fears about diseases swooned across Europe. The beer stein has a handle and a lid and is identified as traditional (having folklore patterns and such), regimental (identifying a military connection), occupational, or in 3-D. Through the ages, the stein evolved and many people engraved anything of significance on the lid. Finally, late in the 19th century, Budweiser became involved in making steins.
The military stein is one that can be worth up to $1,500. This type of stein was made to celebrate the soldier's service to the particular regiment and was usually painted with a military scene of significance within the soldier's life. The metal designs are immaculate on these types of beer steins. The metal may also be carved in commemoration of service.
Early Kreussen Beer Stein
One early beer stein was a beautifully painted stein from 17th-century Kreussen, Germany. It was simply entitled "Apostle," and each stein was adorned with a different apostle. Its pewter lid served well to prevent any unwanted objects from entering the brew. It is a priceless artifact; however, there are many reproductions that exist today.
Another stein, produced within 20 years of the Apostle stein and in the same location, is the Hunt stein. It was made by the Vest family, the same family that made the Apostle, in fact. The Vest family formed a stoneware dynasty in the small town of Kreussen. The Hunt stein has painted images of hunting motifs such as foxes and rabbits being hunted by dogs. This stein could be worth more than $5,000.
Some later beer steins such as this Matthias Girmscheid stein are much more likely to be found in one piece and available nowadays. They are not as detailed as the earlier steins, but they do have beautiful paintings of castles and kings. These steins can run between $300 and $400. They do not have the pewter lids that were prevalent in earlier steins.
Billy McCarley has been freelancing online since April 2009. He has published poetry for Dead Mule, an online literary publication, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University Of Alabama where he is also a first-year graduate student in history.