The Significance of the German Beer Stein
The Significance of the German Beer Stein as a gift goes back to nearly the time they were first made in the 15th century. Back then it was a present from father to son that he was coming of age.
As time progresses the presence of a German beer stein in a home became a statues symbol. Since these are handcrafted beverage containers, they were all basically custom made. This allowed for the family crest to be embossed on them to identify members in the local taverns who were related and kin to each other.
This is where it began, but it did not end there. The higher the quality of the stein that was used, would symbolize a personís standing in the family. This generally means the patriarch of the family had the most highly decorated stein of the clan. On some of the older steins, there were also slogans and other symbols to address the owners own standing amongst their family.
The beginning of the regimental steins began in the late 19th century after the Prussian Franco war. At this time in Germany there was a mandatory order that all men between the ages of 17 to 45 serve in a reserve unit for 5 to 2 years. The time changed over the years. Nationalism was very popular and the regimental steins became a hallmark symbol for which unit you were in.
At this time there were five main different types of military service a man could join. There was the infantry, cavalry, artillery, military train or the engineers that were called the pioniers. Groups of men would go off to training each year in early October. That following September they would return home with certain items that embossed their regiment. This would include their own German beer stein. The cost of one stein would average the month salary of a private at that time.
On many of these German beer steins would be a list of names of the men in the unit. For those that died, there would be a cross by their name. The list could be only 3 to 4 or as many as 100. The sides were decorated with battle scenes their regiment was in. Some even had pictures of the steins owner on them along with the ranking military officer of the unit.
The lids were made of pewter and highly ornamental. While some think a helmet would have been popular there were only a few made on that style for the Ulan units. There were a few screw on lids from southern German units but most were of the typical dome shape.
Over time other types of units incorporated the German beer steins as being a significant part of belonging to a group. This included schools and the student association steins. Today over 1000 of these associations are in existence and have their own coat of arms or symbol embossed on members steins.
The significance of the German Beer Stein is measured by the man that owns it and the group he belongs to. These are exclusive clubs that have limited memberships.