The German Regimental beer stein is a colorful, seriously collected souvenir of the the Imperial German military. In the late 19th century conscription or a draft was mandatory. All able-bodied males were required to serve a minimum of 2 years service. In most cases a group was mustered into a company in their home areas as recruits. They trained together and stayed together for the entire 2 years. In the mid 1890s the Reservists as they approached completion of their time in the army, they often made purchases of souvenirs to commemorate their experience. Most popular, especially in the Bavarian states were beer steins. On almost every regimental stein will be found the motto, "Errinerung an Meine Dienstzeit" - In Memory of my Service Time. Many other decorations including patriotic mottoes and scenes related to their service time appear as well, including the soldier's name, his unit and often a roster of his comrades with whom he served.
Most common to be found are steins to Infantry units. Most are made of porcelain and have a lithopane on the bottom. This is a picture which can be seen when held up to the light. Often it is of a German leader or a soldier and his fraulein. These steins are generally made to hold a 1/2 liter of beer and are so marked. They came with an ornate pewter lid usually with a finial of a soldier. Often they have an ornate thumb lift which is sometimes the coat of arms of the state. The purchase of Regimental steins generally ceased in 1914 with the beginning of WWI though other type beer steins and mugs continued to be produced with military and patriotic motifs.
A word of caution - if you encounter a nice stein with dates back around 1905 and it has a naked lady in the lithopane - walk away it's a repro! Repro steins have been coming out of Germany since the 1960s and some recent fakes are scary good!
Here's a few pics of a typical "Reservistenkrug". This man was a Dragoon - a mounted lancer, who served from 1907 to 1910 in Karlsruhe with the Baden Leib Dragoon Regt. No, 20. Note that he served 3 years instead of 2. This was required if a man desired to serve in a mounted unit. These guys were the glory boys of the day! His stein is adorned with a Dragoon figure as the finial (he's lost his lance over the years!) and Baden thumb lift. This stein has lots of action pictures and patriotic slogans.
This is a quick look at the Regimental Beer Stein as a great historic collectible. These were private purchases and soldier chose to purchase these or not. He might have chosen a souvenir pipe or a schnapps flask instead or nothing.........
Here's post card pic of 4 soldiers nearing the end of service - 2 of whom proudly display their beer steins.
Edited by bobgee, 29 October 2018 - 08:46 AM.