German Lithophane Beer Stein

By mwilcox


This is a “Lithophane” stein, dating about 1910. The image on the bottom is molded in place, giving the appearance of a black & White photograph when viewed against light. The only marking on it is the word “Zinn”, stamped on the lid, which indicates the lid and hinge is pewter. Without any other makers marks though it's impossible to determine a maker. Lithophanes are pictures made by pressing a mold into porcelain. To produce theses images Artisans carved the pictures in the wax, a plaster-of-Paris mold was made from the wax carving and the porcelain slip was poured in this mold to dry. the porcelain was then fired with the mold removed. Where the picture is the lightest, the porcelain is very thin, and where it is darkest the porcelain is the thickest.

German Beer steins have been popular tourist items for over 100 years, a great many brought back by troops in World Wars One and Two as gifts for the folks back home. Most are well marked and it fairly easy to determine the maker, the unmarked type are much harder to determine a maker for. While not mass produced in the modern sense, these were made in large numbers, so values are still relatively modest for them. Examples like this one tend to date from the late 19th Century through to World War One and generally sell at auction for less than $200.00.