is a Character Stein?
A character stein (also referred to
as a figural stein) is a stein with a shape designed to represent
an object, person, or animal. It's a style category as opposed
to a materials category.
Although figural vessels date back
to several centuries before
character steins had to await the development of the hinged lid,
in the early 1500's. There are stoneware character steins that
date from about that period, generally in the form of owls or seated
bears, but they are quite rare. One can only speculate as to why
there are so few character steins that predate the late 1800's.
A popular theory is that the demand for whimsical, odd-shaped vessels
did not warrant the manufacturers' attention until the late 1800's.
Another theory is that there was just too much effort required
to produce these "statuettes" before the introduction,
in the late 1800's, of molds that could more easily accommodate
such shapes, such as slip molds.
Some of the character steins that
appeared around the 1850's were bisque porcelain pieces that were
made by E. Bohne Soehne of the Thueringen region of Germany. This
factory, along with others in Plaue, are believed to be responsible
for much of the initial manufacture of character steins.
While many character steins are made
of porcelain, there are also other important materials. Next to
porcelain, the most common is stoneware. Pewter and various other
kinds of ceramic round out the character stein materials that are
*Courtesy of The Beer Stein