by Jack G. Lowenstein
Soon beer drinking became synonymous with the Oktoberfest and vast amounts of beer were consumed by the fest goers. Naturally, the beer was consumed from 1-liter �Masskruge,� those blue-grey stoneware mugs still in use today at many of Munich's beer cellars. Fried chicken, baked fish and uncountable tons of sausage accompanied the beer. Large white radishes, salted and �weeping,� made certain that the imbibers retained their mighty thirst.
In 1910, the Oktoberfest celebrated its Centennial with much hoopla and a fond look backwards in time. The horse races were brought back and a �Sch�tzenfest� (sharp shooters� contest) and balloon races kept the crowds entertained � when they weren�t drinking beer, that is. Someone also had the bright idea to issue a �l00th Anniversary� commemorative beer stein, which immediately became a collector�s prize!
Over the ensuing years, other commemorative steins were issued. In 1935, a 125th anniversary stein was brought forth (see picture) and in 1960, the 150th anniversary was celebrated with yet another commemorative. Yes, in 1985, there was a 175th anniversary stein. These commemoratives are always colorfully decorated, usually with the legend, �M�nchner Oktoberfest, 1810...� On the base of these steins one finds the stamp, �Offizieller Festkrug Oktoberfest� (Official Octoberfest Festival Stein) and the date. The 1910 Festkrug was designed by Munich artist Franz Ringer and bears his initials.
The steins themselves are made of salt-glazed stoneware, produced in the Westerwald region of Germany in the Rhine River Valley, southeast of Cologne. Salt-glazing was discovered there sometime in the 14th century and in the intervening years was developed into a fine art.
Oktoberfest commemorative steins are much sought after, especially when they were designed by well-known artists such as Ringer. However, there are many reproductions in the marketplace. The serious collector should, therefore, look for the �Offizieller Festkrug� stamp on the stein�s base.
A final comment: Did Ludwig and Therese live happily ever after? No, unfortunately they did not. King Ludwig became infatuated with the (in)famous Lola Montez, a beautiful but basically talentless entertainer from Ireland � after he saw her dance in Munich in 1846. Her consequent intrusion into the king�s life and, indeed into matters of state, forced Ludwig I to abdicate in 1848 in favor of his son, Maximillian II (father of the �dream king,� Ludwig II). But the citizens of Munich and Bavaria soon forgot the sordid affair and happily continue to celebrate the annual Octoberfest to this very day!
*Reprinted by permission from All About Beer Magazine, Vol. 12, No. 2, April/May 1991.