How Much Is My German Beer Stein Worth?
Are German Beer Steins Worth anything? Collecting German Beer Steins remains a popular pastime to this day ranging from museum curators to casual collectors who are looking for a German gift idea. There is still a vibrant community of stein collectors around the world, highlighting that the value of the German beer mugs has not become obsolete. Collectors find that collectible beer mugs hold their value and are willing to invest money in purchasing beer mugs to add to their German Stein collection.
Although the art of German branded steins and beer goes back to the Middle Ages, Germans took their love for beer to the taverns, festivals, and beer gardens and complemented this with steins and tankards. But it wasn't just German beer drinkers enjoying the famous German beveridge of bier being poured into steins at an Oktoberfest party. Now, people the world over are well aware of German steins and want in on the action.
What are German Beer Steins?
In essence, a beer stein is a large mug or tankard that holds beer. The origin of the German word “stein” has variations of meaning. It may be created from two words. “Stein gut” which means “stone goods,” and “Stein Krug” meaning "stone mug."
What Are Beer Steins Made Of?
Authentic German branded beer steins come in many shapes and sizes. Popular brands are Zoller and Born, King Werks, Hofbrauhaus, E.H.G., Thewalt, Essence of Europe Gifts and Rastal to mention just a few. Most of the steins made in Germany are fabricated using the following materials: Earthenware, Ceramics, Silver, Crystal, Glass, Porcelain, Pewter, Creamware, and Wood. Most of the time, ornate handcrafted beer steins are made of stoneware ceramics. German steins typically range within the volumes of .25 Liter, .5 Liter, .75 Liter and 1 Liter. A popular and standard volume of Oktoberfest beer steins is 0.5L and 1 Liter beer steins.
Assessing the Age of German Beer Steins Worth
The value of a German beer stein often depends on its age. As might be expected, older German steins have a higher value than newer beer mugs. To start with assessing the value of a beer stein, many collectible beer steins will have the date of the stein printed on the lid or stamped on the bottom of the beer mug. The varieties of antique German beer steins can often be allocated to different periods of history. A broad generality of some time periods that steins can be grouped into (but by no means exhaustive) are:
- The rarest of steins are from the 16th to the middle of the 19th century.
- More common yet rare are antique steins belonging to the mid-19th to 20th century.
- Jugendstil beer steins are from the art of German Art Nouveau period of the 1900 to 1920s.
- Third Reich steins were created during World War 2.
- Contemporary beer steins made after World War 2 come in a wide variety ranging from collectible steins to souvenir and German gift themed steins.
- Munich Oktoberfest beer steins are an annual collectible.
Styles of German Beer Steins
German steins are painted in a variety of styles and use different artistic mediums for artwork placement. The following is just a sampling of some of the styles that are popular among those who collect beer steins.
Patriotic scenes folk tales are a popular motif carved into the body of a stein. Often this is accomplished by manually carving a scene into the stein body which is then painted or accented using bold colors to highlight the carving.
There is a whole sub-culture of military stein collectors who collect steins that symbolize soldiers and army rank having successfully completed their patriotic duties. In the past, there was a tradition for the owner's last name and status to be engraved onto the stein. In more recent times when this tradition is followed, the soldier's full name and rank are painted onto the stein.
The manufacture of these customized items is a trend that started in the 1850s. These are customized and personalized steins created in the shape of animals, humans, trees etc.
A popular trend in recent decades was to collect steins produced by Anheuser Busch Budweiser mugs. Although colorful and fun to collect, these often do not fetch a high value and rather have more sentimental value to collectors.
Detailed and realistic carvings of humans, animals, and birds can be found on traditional steins made of ivory dating to a bygone era when ivory was used. Because of restrictions regarding the ivory trade collecting, collecting such steins is no longer viable or recommended.
These are undoubtedly one of the more unique collectible beer steins. The Villeroy and Boch Co. of Mettlach manufactured this stoneware. They were designed between 1880 to 1910.
The durable and stylish stoneware can be found in various shapes and styles.
- Traditional Stein
- Bavarian Stein
- Barrel Stein
- Potbelly Stein
- Tavern Stein
- Lodge Stein
- Smokestack Stein
- Pint Glass
How to Know the Worth of a German Beer Stein?
There are a number of characteristics defining the value of beer steins. These traits also serve the purpose to differentiate a truly collectible stein from one that simply serves the purpose of being a German gift or Oktoberfest beer stein. A number of criteria used to establish a value on a stein are:
As previously noted, a good rule of thumb is that the older a stein is, the more valuable it tends to be. A good starting point for establishing age are steins made prior to World War.
Because steins are an iconic collectible of Germany, naturally, steins made in Germany tend to fetch a higher value and are given a stamp of being an authentic German Beer Stein.
- Hand-Painted Design
Hand-painted steins establish themselves as being inherently more unique than a stein that is mass-produced using a decal fired on at a high temperature or a stock model beer stein body with a metal medallion glued onto the stein body. Hand painted steins will have a slightly imperfect look however this adds to the character and individuality of each stein.
- Artwork Narrates a Story
Telling a story vis-a-vis hand-painted pictures on the German stein as an artistic medium can differentiate a steins value from other comparable mugs. From the artwork rendered on the body of a stein, a story can be told. For example, German beer stein markings and artwork illustrate famous battles, Oktoberfest and Biblical accounts. Many historical moments are also captured by means of this unique artistic medium.
Genuine German beer mugs often are expensive and bulky because of being made with costly materials such as silver, pewter, wood, glass, etc. A stein made of an expensive or rare material can give further context to why a stein might result in a higher value.
An Authentic German Steins Worth or Value
As already noted, if you are asking “what is my German beer stein worth,” an antique German beer stein has the potential to be valued at a higher cost than a contemporary German beer stein. For a true collectible beer stein, the price range can range from $50 to $5,000. On the flip side, if you are just looking to buy an original German beer stein to add to your collection, you should take into consideration the following variables:
- The stein is free of any damage resulting in cracks, dents, or major blemishes.
- Discolorations resulting from neglect or being exposed to the elements such as sun or water damage. Additionally, evidence of repair work is a negative.
- The hinge of the lid should be able to pivot and be in working condition.
- It is preferred that the coloring of the original decorations is vibrant and reflect the original intended appearance.
- Markings, markings, markings. This is one of the most critical elements to evaluate value of a stein. Markings that note the date, manufacture, limited edition run etc. are vital.
German Steins have been used to drink beer over many centuries, yet they have also become a symbol of Germany and as a result have come to be collected by many around the world. Steins made of precious materials or are a qualified antique can fetch a higher value. Prior to buying, differentiate genuine beer steins that are collectible by checking the quality, age, and manufacturer.
Buying a collectible beer stein can make for a unique German gift idea for someone special. If you are not in the position to spend a higher dollar value or devote the time to get a valuation for a German mug, not to be forgotten are the huge variety of beer gift ideas for men or gift for Opa that can be found by shopping for a German gift beer stein. Either way, beer steins are a unique avenue to collect a piece of Germany!