Collectible Beer Steins - How To Start
Many people love to drink beer from a stein. Others love to collect the steins that hold the beer. To each his own. But if you decide you want to collect beer steins here are some tips on how to start colecting.
First of all is to recognize that the beer stein can be made of many different materials including wood, pewter, silver, ceramic or porcelain. Others are earthenware, creamware, stoneware, glass or crystal. A beer stein dated from the 1400s onward will usually have a hinged lid. The lid was added during the middle of 1400 in central Europe as a sanitary measure. People were repeatedly being overwhelmed with swarms of flies and laws were passed to ensure that food and beverage containers were manufactured with a lid. Thus would keep the flies from falling into the food or drink. Beer steins were manufactured with a lid that had a thumb lift to flip open the container to let the person drink and then let it fall back into place. A simple but ingenious sanitary measure. If you are to become a good collector of steins you will need to know how to distinguish each type of material a stein can be made in.
Although usually thought of as of German origin, steins have been found in China [200 B.C.], Greece [1200 B.C.] Egypt [1350-1580 B.C.] and Rome [200 A.D.]. The stein did however started to become very popular in Europe by 1850 and has continued to be a poplar item down to this day at many Oktoberfests around the world. Over these years Beer steins have been decorated in many different ways from unique hand painted mugs to ornate manufatured stylings. Steins may be traditional, regimental, occupational (depicting a specific occupation), depict a character (figural), or be made in a relief or three-dimensional form. Steins are often made with a specific theme from bikers to civil war, dogs, dragons, golf, fishing, hunting, Celtic, German, Italian, musical, nautical, various sports and on and on. There is probably any theme you can imagine available somewhere in a store and many collectors stick to one particualy genre of the beer stein.
Another fact to note is that the lid itself can come in many different configurations as well. You can have conical lids, flat lids, ornamental lids, inlay lids or stoneware lids. The lid is one important factor in determining age, price, and quality of a stein and you should become familiar with each type.
Quite often emblems, hallmarks, and trademarks, were appplied by factories to distinguish their beer steins from each other. With a bit of study you will discover that steins can be dated to a specific time period by considering the manufacturing marks thay have, by their pewter fixtures, by their handles and body styles or even by a specific artists signature. The value of each stein depends upon its condition, its unique styling or character, its age as well as its quality of workmanship just like many other works of art. You can also consider any patent marks and the subsequant reputation of that manufacturer for quality. Any unusual handles, hinge mounts, signatures, subjects or materials can also enhance the value of your stein.
The wide range of steins that have been made available over the years actually makes collecting steins very easy. There are so many varieties available that anyone can find a specific type to collect. If you want to be a serious collector of vintage or antique steins then you simply need to do your research, take your time in identifying the object of your affection and you should do well. No matter what you decide to collect we hope you will enjoy yourself. And, of course, a few beers along the way!
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