Q. I am sending pictures of a German stein that I have owned for many years. My late husband and I antiqued a lot, and I cannot remember where we got it, but I have always wanted to know more about it. I am hoping you can tell me the history and the maker and if it is worth anything. It is 6½ inches tall and is marked, but I cannot read it. I can see the numbers "727" and "09," but little else. Any information would be appreciated.
A. First of all, the stein is German and was made in the small town of Mettlach, which is on the Saar River in the far western part of the country near the borders with France and Luxembourg. The name "Mettlach" means "mid-lakes" or "between the lakes," and the company was a branch of the famous Villeroy and Boch Co.
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The Boch family had been in the pottery business since the mid-18th century, but when Jean Francis Boch graduated from the Ecole des Sciences in Paris, he decided to purchase the old Benedictine Abbey in Mettlach, which had been around since the 7th century A.D. The new factory's mark became the abbey's tower, which was constructed between 987 and 1000.
The original company was called Boch-Buschmann, but in 1836 it merged with Nicholas Villeroy's company to form Villeroy and Boch, which still exists. At its height, Villeroy and Boch had a number of factories that produced a variety of wares, but the steins, plaques, punch sets and other wares made at Mettlach are often considered a separate collecting category.
The stein in today's question is classified as a "PUG" -- no, not a type of dog, but a Mettlach piece decorated with a "Print-Under-Glaze." Other types of Mettlach steins might have decorations in relief, or a decoration called "cameo" that resembles the jewelry by the same name.
There were also designs that look something like colored stone, which are called "chromoliths." These are considered by many to be the height of Mettlach's production, and these designs are sometimes referred to as being "etched."
We notice there is no lid on this particular stein, and this is a bit troubling because most steins of this type have factory-fitted metal lids (generally pewter, but other metals were used). However, we have discovered that Mettlach steins could be ordered without lids, and that may be the case here.
Collectors seem to prefer their Mettlach steins to have lids (in fact, many collectors prefer that their Mettlach steins have inlaid lids), and the absence of this feature may constitute something of a small deduction. The particular example is a style 727, which shows gnomes bowling.
The "09" mentioned in the letter refers to "1909," which is one of the company's standard shape numbers -- and not a date. The artist responsible for the original artwork on this piece is Heinrich Schlitt, who specialized in humorous scenes and was originally from Munich.
The 727 stein can be found in two sizes -- 0.3-liter and 0.5-liter. We are not sure which this is, but if it is the 0.3-liter size, it has an insurance-replacement value in the range of $250 to $300. The 0.5-liter size is approximately $50 more.
• Contact Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928.