Antique Beer Steins Value & Identification (With Rare Finds)

Antique German beer steins are precious souvenirs that can be worth a few hundred or thousand dollars. A rare 17th-century Meissen stein auctioned for the highest value ever, a whopping $140,000!

But with many contemporary steins available in the market, identifying and finding the true value of an antique stein is tricky if you don’t know its age, type, maker, and manufacturing location.

This guide will tell you how to assess a vintage German stein’s true worth using its design, type, rarity, and historical significance. I’ll also list down the most valuable beer steins for you!

About German Beer Steins (Brief History)

Beer steins stand out from regular beer mugs with their distinctive lids. But in the early days, steins didn’t have decorated hinged lids. The lids originated in the wake of the European Black Plague as a sanitary step in Germany.

The earlier German steins were made of stoneware with permanent pewter lids. These Medieval and Renaissance steins commonly featured Gothic motifs and heraldic designs. The later ones had Baroque, Rococo, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco-inspired styles on porcelain or stoneware bodies with metal lids.

After World War II, contemporary beer steins with cheaper reproduced old designs became more popular. The modern stein mainly has molded glass bodies with or without the lid.

Finding the Value of Antique German Beer Steins

Vintage Lidded Beer Steins

Common antique beer steins sell for $50 – $500, while old and rare German steins with intricate historic carvings and paintings can be worth a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

But is every stein worth a high price? Not necessarily! Here’s what turns an old beer mug into a valuable collectible beer stein:

  • Authenticity marks or maker’s mark (brand or designer) on the base
  • Old pewter-lidded stoneware, porcelain, silver, hand-blown enameled glass bodies
  • Historical designs with popular artistic styles, like Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, military, and patriotic themes
  • Intricate detailing, relief work, fine enamel painting, thematic motifs, or etchings
  • Unique handle shapes and hinge mounts 
  • Unusual sizes and shapes

Generally, the oldest 17th – 18th century beer steins are highly sought after. However, the final value of a German stein also depends on its condition, brand, materials, and rarity. Let’s understand each factor below!

Assess the Condition

An antique German stein in excellent condition is more valuable than one with severe cracks, chips, and broken edges. Faded or chipped-off paint or glaze and discolorations also depreciate the beer steins value.

But a well-preserved patina on the surface authenticating the stein’s age can upscale its value. Besides, beer steins with original and intact parts, like working lids and handles, are valued more by stein collectors.

To check if a lid is original, see if the design on the stein lid should correspond with the design on the stein. If you see differences, the lid is likely fake.

Check the Size & Shape

Particularly, large steins or those with unusual capacities other than the standard one-liter size are more valuable and collectible, as they are often rarer. For example, an extra large 18-inch tall vintage relief stein sold for $1,200 on eBay!

Similarly, classic shapes such as Tankards with pewter lids, bulbous Bellarmine steins, tall and cylindrical Humpen steins, and jug steins are more desirable stein shapes.

Identify the Brand and Maker

Antique Ceramic Beer Stein with Lid

After beer steins became popular worldwide, many companies in different countries started manufacturing them in the 19th century. Some early beer stein brands are more popular, fetching thousands of dollars for one piece.

For example, authentic Mettlach steins can fetch up to $1,000 – $2,000 or even higher for unusual sizes or designs. A rare signed and marked Mettlach stein won a bid of $6,000 on eBay!

Here are some desirable beer stein brands and the average values of their steins:

Beer Stein CompaniesEstimated Values
Villeroy & Boch (VB) Mettlach$50 – $1,000 ($2,000 or more for rare pieces)
Meissen$200 – $600 (Up to $2,000 for a rare design)
Budweiser$80 – $400 (sets sell for around 1,000)
Thewalt$50 – $400
King Werk$40 – $300 (Up to $1,000 for rare pieces)
Marzi & Remy$20 – $250
Royal Vienna$200 – $250
Hauber and Reuther$50 – $400
Dumler and Breiden$30 – $200
Merkelbach and Wick$50 – $500

Some other common German beer stein manufacturers to look for:

  • J. W. Remy
  • Diesinger
  • Eckhardt and Engler
  • Rastal Werk
  • Sarreguemines 
  • Handgemalt
  • Simon Peter Gertz

Check the Material

Generally, the oldest stoneware beer steins with pewter lids are the most valuable, selling for as much as $1,000 – $2,500. German porcelain and silver beer steins also fetch great returns of up to $800 due to their intricate craftsmanship.

Interestingly, glass-blown steins with enamel paintings are also precious, worth around $50 to $300! But new-age plain or molded glass steins will likely be less valued by stein collectors.

Check the Age

An antique German beer stein’s value greatly depends on its age. A rare, older stein is more commonly sought after than a newer one. Newer beer steins with low-quality materials and minimal designs aren’t worth much. You can analyze the stein’s features and marks to estimate its age.

Find the Age of Antique Beer Steins

Before the discovery of stoneware, ancient German steins were made with earthenware and wood. Later, beer steins were made of stoneware with handcrafted historical art and designs.

Having changed over time, the beer stein designs and shapes can help you estimate their age.

Vintage Beer Steins

14th to 16th Century Beer Steins:

The earliest stoneware steins featured historical designs and early raw glazes on a standard cylindrical body. These Renaissance Era Beer Steins are the most difficult to find today, making them the rarest and most valuable.

Key Features:

  • Carved stoneware, pewter, silver, and ivory steins
  • Cylindrical shape with a curved handle
  • Salt glaze, cobalt blue glaze, or manganese oxide purple glaze
  • Historical and biblical scenes with the Renaissance influence
  • Hinged pewter lid with large ball-type thumb lift

17th – 18th Century Beer Steins:

This era saw the rise of porcelain steins. At first, Germany introduced faience (earthenware mixed with tin oxide) beer steins as it could not produce porcelain like China. But soon, Germany also started making porcelain beer steins.

Key Features:

  • Late Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo-style designs
  • Porcelain ceramic stein from China, like Ming mugs
  • German Bavarian faience steins with blue glaze 
  • More unique bulbous or tankard-style shapes
  • Decorative lids with elaborate finials and hinges

19th – 20th Century Beer Steins:

This era saw the rise of glass, silver, and porcelain steins, along with traditional stoneware steins. The mid-19th century also saw the rise of the first molded beer steins. After this, modern steins were mass-produced, losing that original artistic craftsmanship.

Key Features:

  • Designs with Romantic era, rural life, and folklore influences
  • Glass steins (enameled & engraved)
  • Stoneware steins with gray salt glaze
  • Third Reich steins with World War II battles and propaganda designs
  • Mold-made, factory-produced stein designs and shapes. 
  • Metal lids

Identify the Type of Your Beer Stein

Vintage Beer Steins with Lids

After tracking the age, you must identify the type of your vintage beer stein. Apart from the common cylindrical, art movement-themed steins, there are four significant types of beer steins:

Regimental Steins

German regimental steins feature paintings and designs with military life, battles, and warland influences, often with specific soldier names and dates. These steins became popular after the 1840-1871 Franco-Prussian War when companies made personalized steins to reward soldiers and military personnel in Germany.

Estimate Value: Up to $400 – $500

Character Steins

As the name states, these unique steins are shaped like animals, characters, or objects, diverting from the classic cylindrical steins. Collectors love character beer steins for their unconventional looks and craftsmanship.

Estimated Value: Up to $500 – $600

Relief Steins

This type of beer stein is characterized by raised or three-dimensional designs that stand out from the surface. You may find German folklore, history, and nature-inspired designs on relief steins.

Estimated Value: Up to $100 – $500 (highter for rare designs)

Commemorative Steins

These steins were produced to commemorate events, anniversaries, coronations, births, festivals, significant historical figures, and victories. Such antique beer steins are often limited edition and, hence, highly sought after.

Estimated Value: $100 – $500

Look for Authenticity Marks

  • Trademarks: Antique beer steins are often marked on the undersides with their manufacturer names and other details. You can refer to the stein marks database to identify your beer stein markings.
  • Artist Marks: You may also find stein designer signs at the bottom. These marks are significant as a beer stein produced by renowned artists can be of great historical and monetary value.
  • Location Marks: Generally, late 19th-century authentic German steins (made after 1887) have the “Made in Germany” or “Gemacht in Deutschland” mark. The mid-20th to late 20th century steins may have the “Made in Western Germany” mark. Similarly, the Italian steins have the “Made in Italy” marks.
  • Numbers & Other Marks: Some old authentic German steins may have number marks on the bottom. Note that these numbers are mold or product numbers and don’t resemble the production date.

5 Most Valuable Beer Steins To Find Now!

Carved German Beer Stein

Beer steins that are too hard to find are generally more sought-after by collectors. This includes steins with unusual shapes or sizes, rare designs (like figural steins), or unique features. Such rare antique beer steins can be worth thousands of dollars!

Here are some examples of such rare beer steins and their sky-high prices:

17th Century Silver Tankard-Style Beer Stein

The most expensive beer stein ever sold is the 17th-century silver tankard-style beer mug that received the highest bid of $140,000 by Auctioneer Ron Fox.

1715 Meissen Beer Stein

A rare Meissen pre-porcelain beer stein fetched a bid of $26,400 at an auction in Houston. This antique German beer stein featuring a hand-painted design with gold work was designed by renowned artist Johann Friedrich Bottger in 1715.

1900 German Regimental Stein

The LA Times stated that a unique German regimental lidded stein from 1900 was auctioned for $6,300 in 2018. The stein featured intricate battle and patriotic scenes and elements.

Mettlach Beer Stein Signed Quidenus Holy Grail

A Mettlach stein numbered ‘2455’ and signed Quidenus sold for a whopping $6,000 on eBay! The stein featured a pure pewter lid with a knight figurine on top.

Dumler and Breiden 19th c Skull Beer

This is a rare skull-shaped character stein from Dumler and Breiden. It has a dark brown body with carved cracks, a visible patina, and a matching hinged lid. It sold for $850!

Whether you’re selling or buying an old beer stein, this value guide will help you spot a valuable and authentic German beer stein. Although not as much as steins, old beer cans may also fetch decent returns. Find out spot such valuable old beer cans now!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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