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German Steins

Nothing sings of the gregarious German culture more than the ceramic stein. A symbol of revelry and rowdy drinking, the German stein is also a piece of history, with its origins dating back to the days of the Black Death.

In the 14th century, when the Bubonic Plague broke out and began ravaging western European populations, those who wished to thwart the disease began developing measures to increase sanitation. One of these measures was to add lids or covers to drinking vessels. This trend became law in Germany by the early years of the 16th century, resulting in development of a hinged lid for mugs and tankards.

At the same time, ceramists also began experimenting with stoneware, fired at extreme temperatures to create a more durable vessel. Such was the combination of factors that gave birth to the stein. This vessel has remained relatively unchanged to the present day, save for the level of decoration on the exterior. From family crests to souvenir scenes, German stein pottery comes adorned with a variety of motifs that will compel almost any collector.


Quick Facts

  • "Stein" is actually a truncation of the German word "steinzeugkreug," which roughly translates to "stoneware tankard"
  • Before the popularity of ceramic vessels, many beer drinking mugs were crafted from wood. This proved problematic, as the natural porosity of wood meant that the stench of old beer would linger long after drinking
  • Stoneware stein tankards were considered a symbol of status in the 16th century, as they were without a doubt a pricey investment

Recommended Items at Auction

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Musical Falstaff German Beer Stein, Works, 9 in. (22.9 cm.)
Mar 03, 2:00 PM CST
Musical Falstaff German Beer Stein, Works, 9 in. (22.9 cm.)
by Asselmeier May Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
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Vintage German Porcelain Stein
Mar 10, 1:00 PM PST
Vintage German Porcelain Stein
by Pasadena Antique Warehouse
Est: $100- $200
$400 Bids
2 Ceramic and Pewter German Beer Steins
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
2 Ceramic and Pewter German Beer Steins
by Greenwich Auction
Est: $50- $100
$500 Bids
Vintage ceramic Beer stein mug with textured lid and Munchen images
Feb 27, 7:00 PM EST
Vintage ceramic Beer stein mug with textured lid and Munchen images
by Omni Auction Corp
Est: $70- $105
$300 Bids
West Germany Stein
Feb 29, 10:00 AM EST
West Germany Stein
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$10 Bids
Group of Five (5) Beer Steins and Mugs
Mar 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Group of Five (5) Beer Steins and Mugs
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $50- $1,000
$100 Bids
Six German Steins with Pewter Lids
Mar 06, 11:00 AM EST
Six German Steins with Pewter Lids
by Gray's Auctioneers
Est: $80- $120
$400 Bids
Antique Signed Mettlach 1898 Villeroy & Boch Gnomes Beer Stein
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Signed Mettlach 1898 Villeroy & Boch Gnomes Beer Stein
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $25- $250
$250 Bids
A German half litre stein decorated with dancing mushroom / toadstool figur
Feb 25, 9:00 AM GMT
A German half litre stein decorated with dancing mushroom / toadstool figur
by Claydon Auctioneers
Est: £100- £200
£1000 Bids
German Stein w/ Lithophane, 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm.)
Mar 03, 2:00 PM CST
German Stein w/ Lithophane, 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm.)
by Asselmeier May Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$200 Bids
German Tower Beer Stein, 11 in. (27.9 cm.)
Mar 03, 2:00 PM CST
German Tower Beer Stein, 11 in. (27.9 cm.)
by Asselmeier May Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
2 German Fox Handled Beer Steins Incl. Gerz, 8 1/2 & 11 in. (21.6 & 27.9 cm.)
Mar 03, 2:00 PM CST
2 German Fox Handled Beer Steins Incl. Gerz, 8 1/2 & 11 in. (21.6 & 27.9 cm.)
by Asselmeier May Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
GERMAN PORCELAIN STEIN
Mar 05, 10:00 AM GMT
GERMAN PORCELAIN STEIN
by Sheppards
Est: €100- €150
€600 Bids
German Stein
Feb 29, 10:00 AM EST
German Stein
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$10 Bids

Sellers Who Sell German Steins


Berner's Auction Gallery

Berner's Auction Gallery

Eldred's

Eldred's

Weschler's

Weschler's