A middle-class American family sends their 17-year-old son to spend the holiday in Missouri with his old-age-pensioner grandfather. One fateful day, he had to serve beer to some of his grandfather’s retired friends who stopped by to check on their old pal, and he couldn’t help but notice the peculiarity of the 1980s Budweiser mugs on the rack. He had heard tales of his grandfather’s love for beer which he acquired while working in Germany in the 1960s, but he had never seen such beautiful beer steins until this moment.

The boy stares in admiration at the steins, which look considerably different from those he had seen in the contemporary Budweiser commercials on television. So, he vows to convince his grandfather to bequeath at least a piece to him when the visitors leave.

It isn’t unusual for individuals to appreciate antique and vintage beer steins. Their elegance, unique design, historical significance, and rarity distinguish them from modern beer mugs. Therefore, beer lovers and regular admirers consider them precious collectibles and purchase them at significant costs. These penchants have led to an ample rare beer stein market.

This article reveals the 10 most valuable American and German beer steins worth collecting and auctioning. We’ve also attached a useful guide for collectors and vendors. For adequate insights, the article will unfold with a quick but informative history of antique beer steins.

After the read, you’ll recognize the most adored beer steins and become abreast with the art of buying and selling them.

A Brief Narrative of Antique and Vintage Beer Steins

A Brief Narrative of Antique and Vintage Beer Steins
@davincimakers

Humanity began drinking beer as early as 5000 BCE in Sumeria, Mesopotamia. The alcoholic beverage spread to other regions of the world and eventually became the fourth most-consumed drink behind water, coffee, and tea. In the 14th century, the German authorities feared that drinking beer in unhygienic and unprotected vessels could intensify the bubonic plague, commonly known as the Black Death. So, they addressed their concerns by mandating the manufacture and use of beer steins.

The earliest steins were composed of earthenware and possessed hinged lids and an affixed thumb lift. Later, a new stoneware-based model replaced the earthenware-based prototype. These new mugs were resistant to chips and cracks, non-porous, and featured Renaissance designs and various glazes. They enjoyed popularity from the 14th century to the 17th century.

German elites began seeking more ornate steins comprising silver, glass, or pewter by the mid-17th century. These more sophisticated beer mugs were manufactured in Koblenz, Bavaria, and Koln. Around this period, Europeans admired the elegant porcelain Ming mugs made in China. This trend led German potters to conceive faience steins, an early attempt to reproduce Chinese porcelain mugs.

Faience steins satisfied the hunger of German beer lovers up till the 18th century. Meanwhile, European potters perfected their version of porcelain around this time. The wealthiest German families soon began demanding the significantly high-priced German porcelain beer steins. Other expensive varieties of steins simultaneously developed in Germany, such as enameled glass, engraved glass, ivory, and silver.

The mid-19th and 20th centuries saw the resurrection of the stoneware steins. These revived beer mugs generally comprised:

  • White clay extracted from the Koln region
  • Renaissance relief decorations
  • Gray salt glaze color
  • Inlaid porcelain lids

Molded German beer steins also surfaced in this era. The German manufacturer Reinhold Hanke developed the first molded beer steins set in Westerwald, Germany. In the United States, Anheuser-Busch, the manufacturer of Budweiser beer, began producing their annual holiday beer steins in 1980.

The Top 5 Most Valuable American and German Beer Steins

American and German Beer Steins
@govintaged

Let’s hint at what you’ll learn halfway into this piece before presenting the extensive review of the most valuable American and German beer steins.

Here are the top 5 most prized American and German beer steins across various eras:

1. The Most Valuable Stein Ever Sold — The 17th-Century American Tankard

Auctioned at $140,000; beer tankard; manufactured in the 17th century; American-style; silver-based

2. The Most Valuable German Beer Stein of the 18th Century — The 1715 Meissen Stein

Sold at $26,400; porcelain stein; made in the 18th century; German-made; features hand-painted goldcrest

3. The Most Valuable German Beer Stein of the 1900s — The  1900 German Regimental Stein

Valued at $6,313; Regimental stein; designed in 1900; German-style; historically significant; features rare body and lid

4. The Most Valuable Modern American/German Beer Stein — Hildebrandt Dracula Character Beer Stein

Priced at $500; rare figural stein; designed in 1995; made in Germany; ceramic-based; portrays a Dracula image by Greg Hildebrandt

5. The Most Valuable Budweiser Stein — The 1981 Budweiser Clydesdale Snowy Woodlands Stein

Valued at $90; vintage American stein; made in 1981; limited Christmas holiday series; original production

The 10 Most Valuable American and German Beer Steins

Most Valuable American and German Beer Steins
@chicmouse

Although German breweries and potters primarily impacted beer drinking by inventing beer steins, we can’t turn a blind eye to some significant American contributions.

The most valuable beer steins usually have a common major characteristic, i.e., rarity. They also exhibit features typical of their manufacturing periods, such as lids, remarkable decorations, glaze colors, and distinct, elegant designs. Generally, the most prized beer steins emerged before the 21st century and were thus historically significant.

The price of beer steins usually sits between $50 and $5,000. However, some steins have considerably surpassed the price limit in auctions.

This section explores the most treasured American and German beer steins. We’ll provide valuable information on the following details:

  • The stein’s last auction price or present market cost
  • The stein’s manufacturer
  • Its production location
  • Its manufacture period
  • The specific model or design
  • Its distinctive features and decorations
  • The stein’s history and relevance
  • Its availability status
  • Auction information and details of previous sales and the past and current individuals or organizations holding the piece
  • Information about where you may find or display the steins

The 10 most valuable American and German beer steins include:

  1. The 17th-century American tankard
  2. The 1715 Meissen stein
  3. The 1900 German Regimental stein
  4. Hildebrandt Dracula character beer stein
  5. The 1981 Budweiser Clydesdale Snowy Woodlands stein
  6. Antique Mettlach etched German stein with an inlaid lid
  7. The 1920s Rein Zinn WWI spiked helmet beer stein
  8. Hauber & Reuther etched beer stein
  9. Marzi & Remy etched German stein
  10. Regensburg beer stein

Let’s extensively examine these valuable beer steins.

1. The 17th-Century American Tankard

The 17th-Century American Tankard
@transylvania.heritage

The Most Valuable Stein Ever Sold

  • Most recent auction price: $140,000
  • Manufacturer: Unknown
  • Production location: USA
  • Manufacture period: 17th century
  • Model/design: Silver tankard
  • Special feature(s): Silver material

Although you may not consider a tankard a stein in a strict sense, one with a beer container structure and whose sole purpose is to hold beer qualifies to make this list. Beer tankards are tall beer mugs often featuring a hinged lid and a handle. The lidded model was the standard form until the second half of the 18th century. Similarly, they were either made up of pewter or silver.

The American auctioneer Ron Fox traded a 17th-century American beer tankard for a record-setting $140,000. This stein originally belonged to a family who passed it down within the unit through generations until it was auctioned off at a good cost. Therefore, it was in pristine condition at the sale time and had a significant provenance since it was well-preserved by the original family that acquired it.

Another peculiarity of this tankard was its expensive silver composition, unlike the cheaper and more usual pewter equivalents.

2. The 1715 Meissen Stein

The 1715 Meissen Stein
@pickwickantiques

The Most Valuable German Beer Stein of the 18th Century

  • Most recent auction price: $26,400
  • Manufacturer: Johann Friedrich Bottger
  • Production location: Germany
  • Manufacture period: 18th century
  • Model/design: Porcelain stein
  • Special feature(s): Hand-painted goldcrests

Meissen steins were the first European porcelain beer mugs manufactured in Germany. In the early 18th century, the German potter Johann Friedrich Bottger produced several hard-paste porcelain items, including steins, in the Meissen factory and kept the formula confidential. The steins typically featured colorful glazes, hand-painted accents of birds, leaves, and flowers, appealing decorations, handles, and porcelain lids.

They were rather expensive during their golden era in Germany, and the few pieces left in modern times have amassed more value.

In July 2000, the Stein auction house Andre Ammelounx oversaw the sale of a Johann Friedrich Bottger’s Messein stein dated to around 1715 at the 33rd Annual Stein Collectors International Convention in Houston, Texas. After enjoying international attention, the rare stein accentuated hand-painted goldcrests and fetched $26,400.

3. The 1900 German Regimental Stein

The 1900 German Regimental Stein
@army_store24

The Most Valuable German Beer Stein of the 1900s

  • Most recent auction price: $6,313
  • Manufacturer: Unknown
  • Production location: Germany
  • Manufacture period: 19th century
  • Model/design: Regimental stein
  • Special feature(s): Rare body and lid style

Regimental steins were tall cylindrical beer mugs of various capacities used by German male soldiers in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

From 1895 to the early World War I epoch, the German Universal Service law mandated young German male soldiers to possess a customized Regimental stein from a pottery rep or stein shop. These steins typically bore details, such as the soldier’s name, station city, company, and years he had served.

They usually comprised a porcelain or stoneware body, thumb lifts indicating the soldier’s unit or state of origin, and helmet-shaped pewter lids. The owner’s preferences and budgets determined the carvings and decorations on the stein.

In July 2018, a 1900 Regimental stein with a rare body and lid style fetched $6313 in an online auction. It overstepped its presale estimate of $2,000 to $2,500.

4. Hildebrandt Dracula Character Beer Stein

Hildebrandt Dracula Character Beer Stein
@pdxretrovegan

The Most Valuable Modern American/German Beer Stein

  • Most recent auction price: $500
  • Manufacturer: Greg Hildebrandt
  • Production location: Germany
  • Manufacture period: 20th century
  • Model/design: Greg Hildebrandt style
  • Special feature(s): Hildebrandt-inspired Dracula figure

Simon Peter Gertz established the Gertz Stein Company in 1857, and they began manufacturing ceramic steins in 1862. One century later, the corporation acquired the license to commercialize a set of Hildebrandt-style steins in 1995.

The Acclaimed American artist Greg Hildebrandt designed the 12 inches tall Dracula-shaped steins. Hildebrant painted and signed the figural steins by hand.

In 2022, a piece was auctioned on eBay for $500. It was in commendable condition even though it had been preserved for more than two decades.

5. The 1981 Budweiser Clydesdale Snowy Woodlands Stein

The 1981 Budweiser Clydesdale Snowy Woodlands Stein
@sickasmysecrets

The Most Valuable Budweiser Stein

  • Most recent auction price: $90
  • Manufacturer: Ceramarte for Anheuser-Busch Companies
  • Production location: Brazil and USA
  • Manufacture period: 20th century
  • Model/design: 1981 Budweiser Christmas Holiday stein
  • Special feature(s): Snow-covered birch trees; eight-horse hitch; dotted pattern accents

Anheuser-Busch, the manufacturer of the prominent American beer brand Budweiser, introduced the brand’s annual Holiday steins series in 1980. The brewery partners with Ceramarte, a Brazilian company that has produced the Budweiser holiday beer steins since they were launched. Before 1993, the steins weren’t packed in boxes. This tendency distinguishes the 1980s Budweiser steins from the latter series.

The leading American brewery released the 1981 Budweiser Clydesdale Snowy Woodlands steins—its second annual holiday series—as a limited edition. This development meant they produced only a few. Hence, the series is the most valuable Budweiser Christmas stein due to its rarity and historical significance.

As their name suggests, the Snowy Woodlands steins were composed of ceramics and depicted eight horses pulling a wagon in a snowy woodland. These vintage steins exhibited color variations because they were hand-painted before being fired. They also featured dotted pattern accents at their top border, handle, and base. Unlike their German counterparts, they were lidless.

A 1981 vintage Budweiser Clydesdale Snowy Woodlands was auctioned off for $90 on eBay in 2022. Still, more valuable 1981 Budweiser Holiday steins are listed for sale on various auction platforms. Some are valued at almost $200 and will break this record once sold. You may acquire an excellent-condition Snowy Woodlands stein from the AB Stein Reserve at significant costs.

6. Antique Mettlach Etched German Stein with Inlaid Lid

Antique Mettlach Etched German Stein with Inlaid Lid
Image: Ebay
  • Bidding price: $495.50
  • Manufacturer: Villeroy and Boch Co.
  • Production location: Germany
  • Manufacture period: 20th century
  • Model/design: Etched beer stein
  • Special feature(s): Decorations depicting the British colonization of Egypt; Nile crocodile image; inscriptions

The Villeroy and Boch Co. of Mettlach was one of the most renowned and highly respected German stein manufacturers of the stein production’s golden age in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The company designed etched German beer steins from stoneware in the early 1900s in Mettlach, Germany. Generally, the steins featured elegant decorations telling several stories.

An antique Mettlach etched German stein with inlaid lids dating to 1901 was listed on eBay at $495.50. The rare steins displayed embellishments depicting the British colonial activities in Egypt during the 19th century. Similarly, it showcased a Nile crocodile and bore the quote “O tempora, o mores!” meaning “Oh the times, oh the customs,” on its lid.

7. The 1920s Rein Zinn WWI Spiked Helmet Beer Stein

The 1920s Rein Zinn WWI Spiked Helmet Beer Stein
Image: Etsy
  • Bidding price: $330
  • Manufacturer: Rein Zinn
  • Production location: Germany
  • Manufacture period: 20th century
  • Model/design: Etched beer stein
  • Special feature(s): WWI spiked helmet lid

Rein Zinn manufactured beer steins from metal, ceramics, ivory, wood, or stone in the 20th century. Their lids were typically pewter-based and were flat or designed to mimic a WWI spiked helmet. However, those featuring a spiked helmet design were molded from three or four pieces and, therefore, more intricate and expensive.

A Rein Zinn WWI spiked helmet beer stein produced in the 1920s was listed for sale on Etsy at $330. Its colorful decoration depicted soldiers on horses and several textual details. Although the stein’s lid was loose and its base was chipped, its value was decent.

8. Hauber & Reuther Etched Beer Stein

Hauber & Reuther Etched Beer Stein
Image: Ebay
  • Bidding price: $319.95
  • Manufacturer: Hauber & Reuther
  • Production location: Germany
  • Manufacture period: 19th century
  • Model/design: Etched beer stein
  • Special feature(s): Decorations portraying a beer party; inscriptions

The German manufacturer Hauber & Reuther produced etched beer steins in the 1900s. These steins were composed of stoneware, featured elaborate adornments, and often had a pewter lid.

A Hauber & Reuther etched beer stein with decoration portraying a beer party dated to around 1900 was displayed on eBay. The stein was valued at $319.95.

9. Marzi & Remy Etched German Stein

Marzi & Remy Etched German Stein
Image: Ebay
  • Bidding price: $199.95
  • Manufacturer: Marzi & Remy
  • Production location: Germany
  • Manufacture period: 1900s
  • Model/design: Etched beer stein
  • Special feature(s): An image depicting three traveling musicians

Anton Marzi and Simon Peter Remy established Marzi & Remy in Höhr, Westerwald, in 1897. Although the corporation folded up in 1994, it produced several enduring beer steins during its prime. The Marzi & Remy etched German stein is one of its most notable designs.

A Marzi & Remy etched stein portraying three traveling musicians dating to the 1900s was listed for sale at $199.95 on eBay. The stein was made up of stoneware and had a repaired lid.

10. Regensburg Beer Stein

Regensburg Beer Stein
Image: Ebay
  • Bidding price: $149.95
  • Manufacturer: Regensburg
  • Production location: Germany
  • Manufacture period: 19th century
  • Model/design: Regensburg stein
  • Special feature(s): Vine and petal trimmings on the rims of its lid

The Regensburg beer stein is a unique mug named after where it was first produced. It primarily comprised stoneware but was press-molded to a wooden shape. During production, the maker turned the stein to make its insides round, fired it, and applied salt to solidify its surface. This stein model often displayed three-panel decorations.

A beige-color Regensburg beer stein created around 1800 was set for sale on eBay at $149.95. The stein possessed vine and petal trimmings on the rims of its pewter lid.

A Guide on Appraising, Dating, Collecting, and Selling Valuable American and German Beer Steins

A Guide on Appraising, Dating, Collecting, and Selling Valuable American and German Beer Steins
@stoneridgeattic

Although beer enthusiasts prize antique and vintage steins as collectibles, you may employ them for their original purpose — holding and drinking beer. This predisposition makes it necessary to acquire and auction a stein precious enough to occupy a place in your collections room while also suitable as a beer container and drinking vessel.

Here, we apprise you of the integral tips for appraising and dating American and German beer steins. We’ll also cite some renowned stein manufacturers whose works are often deemed valuable. Finally, you’ll learn about useful resources for stein collectors and vendors and the best places to buy and sell valuable beer steins.

Essential Tips for Appraising American and German Beer Steins

Several characteristics foster or lessen a beer stein’s value. Hence, it’s critical to consider these elements when authenticating a valuable American or German beer stein to forestall swindling and losses.

Here are some hints indicating a beer stein is valuable and authentic rather than a cheap replica or a mass-produced promotional version:

  • A beer stein with a pewter lid lighter on its interior than on the outside is likely authentic
  • A colorful 1980s Budweiser stein without lids is authentic and thus valuable
  • Hand-painted steins with slight imperfections and appearing raised are usually more valuable
  • German beer steins portraying the German patriotic scheme are potentially more valuable than those without the feature
  • Beer steins featuring hand-carved designs are typically authentic
  • A stein whose design corresponds to that on its lid indicates authenticity and value
  • Many valuable beer steins possess images telling a story. Steins portraying a Biblical story or historical event are usually more sought-after

On the flip side, the following elements may devalue a beer stein:

  • Incomplete parts
  • Serious chips, cracks, and dents
  • Numerous conspicuous repair works
  • Blurred decorations
  • Unpleasing blemishes
  • Significant front damages
  • A nonfunctional hinge on the lid

Critical Tips for Dating American and German Beer Steins

A stein’s age may be a significant determinant of its value. An older stein in good condition tends to be more valuable than a younger equivalent. For instance, the 17th-century American tankard holds the top spot on the list. Therefore, learning how to date a beer stein may enable you to appraise it properly.

These clues will allow you to accurately date beer steins:

  • Check the stein for markings suggesting it was produced in Germany to determine its age. The German Export Control required exporters to indicate the country of production on their exports from 1887. Thus, an authentic German Stein produced towards the end of the 19th century or 20th century will likely bear phrases like “Made in Germany” or “Germacht in Deutschland.”
  • A Budweiser stein showing color variation may belong to the 1980 or 1981 holiday series.
  • Check for handle bumps to distinguish an antique beer stein from vintage or modern pieces. Steins didn’t have bumps on their handles until the 1920s. So, the presence or lack of bumps can enable you to date a piece.
  • If a Budweiser stein was obtained from a box, the piece was manufactured in or after 1993 since Budweiser holiday steins weren’t packed in boxes until 1993.
  • Don’t assume any number on the stein starting with “17,” “18,” or “19” is its manufacture year. It may only be a mold or form number if the number is etched in the stein’s base or behind its base.
  • A beer stein stating “Made in Western Germany” implies it was manufactured between 1949 and 1990.
  • Pewter lids manufactured before World War II incorporated a three- or four-part mold. Still, later pewter lids utilized a single mold.

Renowned American and German Stein Manufacturers

Renowned American and German Stein Manufacturers
@davincimakers

A stein’s manufacturer mark can significantly heighten its value. Steins from several well-known manufacturers are more sought-after and expensive than those from less known stein makers.

Here are the most prominent stein manufacturers in no particular order:

  • Villeroy & Boch
  • Simon Peter Gertz
  • Marzi & Remy
  • Hauber & Reuther
  • Reinhold Hanke
  • Mettlach
  • Ceramarte
  • W. Remy
  • Greg Hildebrandt
  • Merkelbach & Wick
  • Eckhardt & Engler
  • Albert Jacob Thewal
  • Reinhold Merkelbach
  • Diesinger
  • Regensburg
  • Rein Zinn
  • Dumler & Breiden
  • Handgemalt
  • Rastal Werk

The Best Resources for Beer Stein Collectors and Vendors

As a stein collector or vendor, it’s best to read books, visit websites, and join organizations that will broaden your horizon on your chosen hobby or business.

The best resources for stein collectors and vendors include:

Where to Buy and Sell Valuable American and German Beer Steins

The best places to acquire and auction valuable beer steins are those dealing with authentic pieces, numerous collectors and vendors, and the least fraud and loss incidents possible.

You may consider any of these options when purchasing or selling beer steins:

1. Auction Houses

Auction houses provide a medium for auctioneers to meet with eager stein collectors. Here, buyers purchase the most collectible beer steins, while the vendors earn a substantial profit. Andre Ammelounx is a prominent stein auction company situated in Illinois, USA.

2. E-commerce Platforms

E-commerce outlets, such as eBay and Etsy, serve as online auction platforms where stein auctioneers and interested buyers can interact.

3. Stein Collectors Conventions

Stein collectors conventions are a great place to purchase rare steins and trade a portion of your stein collections for money or other steins. The Annual Stein Collectors International Convention occurs every year in different cities worldwide.

FAQ

What are the most valuable Budweiser steins?

The 1980 and 1981 Budweiser Christmas Holiday steins are the most valuable Budweiser steins, valued up to $100 on some platforms.

What is the rarest Budweiser stein?

The rarest Budweiser stein is the 1981 Budweiser Snowy Woodlands Holiday stein because it was released as a limited edition.

Are Budweiser steins worth money?

Yes, Budweiser steins are valuable when in good condition.

Final Thoughts

Beer steins are impressive art pieces originally intended to curb the spread of a plague but eventually developed into what we now consider jewels. These old-world gifts embody a noteworthy history that both beer lovers and teetotalers can equally appreciate.

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