Mettlach City Scene Steins*

by Steven A. Steigerwald

Mettlach ½L, 1675
Mettlach ½L, 1723
When collectors talk about a particular etched (chromalith) Mettlach stein, it is often identified by the incised four-digit number on the underside of the base of the stein. This number is referred to as the form number. The number signifies a particular scene to most collectors. However, there are many Mettlach steins which contain variations in color, design, body shape or inlay, even within the same form number.

Mettlach ½L, 1675
Some of these differences are so minor that they have little or no significance, even to serious collectors. Others are more significant (for example, a color variation), but the general appearance of steins containing the variations is similar. There are other variations, however, where steins carrying the same form number have completely different designs. Some of these differences occur within the same liter content or size and others occur between different sizes of the same stein. There are also steins with different form numbers having the same basic scene or design. In this article, we will explore variations of the etched Mettlach city scene steins.

One of the most sought-after city scenes is the 0.5 liter “Mettlach” stein, form number 1723. It is an attractive, hard-to-find stein depicting the tower of the Mettlach Abbey on the inlaid lid. This tower is the castle in the incised Mettlach mark on the underside of the base of most etched Mettlach steins. The body of the stein depicts a view of the village of Mettlach as it sits on the Saar River in western Germany. Above the etched scene on the body is a shield which generally carries the letters VB for Villeroy & Boch. However, a little known variation of the stein exists which contains the same shield with the letters EB for Eugene Boch, the grandson of the founder of the Boch portion of Villeroy & Boch, who headed the Boch family business when it merged with Nicholas Villeroy’s factory.

Mettlach 3L, 2796
without & with house
Another 0.5 liter city stein with a variation is the common scene of Heidelberg on form number 1675. The scene depicts a view of the city on the body of the stein. A variation of this stein contains a banner with the dates 1386 to 1886 appearing on the back of the body of the stein under the handle. The banner commemorates the 500th anniversary of the founding of the university in Heidelberg.

Mettlach ¼L, 2277, Heidelberg, Nuremberg, Wartburg
Heidelberg also is the subject of another variation, form number 2796, a 3.0 liter stein. The common (later) scene is a view of Heidelberg. The foreground of the rare (early) version has small white buildings with blue roofs in an open area. The building and open area were removed in the later version and shrubs/trees were inserted, apparently for aesthetic reasons, because the eyes were drawn to the buildings and open area and away from the overall scene.

Heidelberg is also one of three cities in the variation of form number 2277, all of which have the same body style. The other two cities are Nuremberg and Wartburg. Each of the three scene variations in this body style come in 0.25 and 0.3 liter sizes. There is no external difference in the body height of the 0.25 liter and 0.3 liter sizes. Each measures just under five inches. The difference in the liter capacity is accomplished by using a deeper base, in effect raising the bottom of the portion of the stein containing the liquid approximately five-sixteenths of an inch. Therefore, when you open the lid and measure the depth of this portion, the 0.3 liter size is approximately three and thirteen-sixteenths inches deep, while the 0.25 liter size is three and one-half inches deep.

Each scene variation also comes with significant base color variations. Some of the bases are brown and others are green. The Nuremberg scene with the same form number is also available in a 0.5 1iter size in this body style. The inlaid lid for the 0.5 liter Nuremberg version commonly has the etched shield of the city on the inlay. A more rare version has a finial figural lion holding a shield with the Bavarian colors, which is also the inlay for the lid of the 0.5 1iter Munich stein, form number 2917.

Mettlach ½L, 2277, 2403, 2141
The Wartburg scene is also available in a 0.5 liter size in this body style but curiously carries form number 2403. A Tübingen scene appears on an almost identical body style, form number 2141, available only in the 0.5 liter size. The Heidelberg scene is not available in 0.5 liter size in this body style.


*Reprinted from The Beer Stein Journal, August 1994, by permission from Gary Kirsner Auctions.