Westerwald Beer Stein Handle Gallery
1860 – 1935

Collectors of antique Westerwald beer steins quickly discover that many, perhaps even the majority, provide no maker’s mark, and that absent such a mark handle design is generally among the most reliable secondary recognition characteristics. While many stein handles share traits, it’s quite unusual to find exactly the same handle on steins from different factories. The problem is that most manufacturers created a wide variety of handle designs, sometimes 100 or more, so memorizing isn’t a particularly practical option. The Westerwald Beer Stein Handle Gallery has been created to help overcome that problem with images of handle designs from twelve of the most prominent Westerwald manufacturers operating between 1860 and 1935, the “Golden Age” of Westerwald stein production.

As much as possible, we’ve attempted to group the handles by overall shape in a sort of continuum, so that once a general shape has been located, similarly shaped handles will be found in the same area of the Gallery. Figural handles (i.e., designed to look like tree branches, twisted vines, animals, and so on) are grouped together at the bottom portion of the Gallery. Keep in mind, however, that organizing a collection of handle photographs this large (and growing) is like putting together a puzzle that has many solutions, none of them perfect. So the absence of a specific handle in a particular grouping does not necessarily mean that it might not be found elsewhere in the Gallery.

The number at the top of each handle image is sequential and provided solely for the purpose of showing its current location in the overall listing. The code below each image designates the manufacturer and the number assigned to that specific handle (e.g., “AD 25” is Adolf Diesinger handle No. 25 — see Manufacturer Abbreviation Key below). Note that the location numbers (top) will vary over time as new handles are added to the listing. The manufacturer codes (bottom), on the other hand, are permanent identifiers, intended to allow for the sharing of research results between collectors using standardized citations.

If you wish to limit the display to handles attributed to just a single manufacturer, select that manufacturer abbreviation below and then click on “Find”. The handles from only that manufacturer will replace the comprehensive Gallery, again sorted by type.

Caution: Although it’s rare, situations do exist where more than one manufacturer used an identical or nearly identical handle. Where that is found to be the case, the handles will always be posted next to each other in the Gallery and the manufacturer codes shown in white on a red background so that they’re easy to spot.

The Westerwald Beer Stein Handle Gallery has been developed specifically for use in the Beer Stein Library. By its very nature, it will continually be a work in process, designed to allow for updating as additional handle designs are discovered and identified. End-users are encouraged to contribute to that effort by submitting photographs of unreported handles via e-mail addressed to [email protected].

Manufacturer Abbreviation Key

AD — Adolf Diesinger
AJT — A.J. Thewalt
DB — Dümler & Breiden
JLK — J.L. Knoedgen
JWR* — J.W. Remy
MG — Matthias Girmscheid
MR — Marzi & Remy
MW — Merkelbach & Wick
RG — Rosskopf & Gerz
RH — Reinhold Hanke
RM — Reinhold Merkelbach
SPG — S.P. Gerz

*Most or all of the handles listed below as “JWR” also appear on steins manufactured by Johann Peter Thewalt (not currently cataloged in the Beer Stein Library).

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