Ernst Bohne Söhne

Ernst Bohne Söhne was founded in Rudolstadt, Thuringia, in 1848 by porcelain painter Ernst Bohne. The first kiln was built in 1850. When Ernst Bohne died in 1856, his sons, Gustav, Karl, and David, ran the factory now known as Ernst Bohne Söhne (sons). Sometime later, David's children, Bernhard and Martha, took over. In 1919, the factory was sold to the Heubach Brothers from Lichte. From 1919 until 1930, the company ran as a branch of the Heubach Co. In 1930, the Rudolstadt branch was brought to a standstill. In 1937, Albert Stahl, Fritz Hamel, and a Mr. Liebman reopened the factory under the name of Albert Stahl & Co. Vormals (formerly) Ernst Bohne Söhne, but no steins were produced there from 1939 until 1990.

Ernst Bohne Söhne was a major manufacturer of porcelain character steins during the early years of the turn of the century. Unlike their major competitor, Schierholz & Sohn, Bohne's character steins were made as much to be used as for display. Their designs did not feature body or lid protrusions such as ears or feathers and, for the most part, their porcelain was heavier and thicker than that of Schierholz.

Most Bohne designs featured pewter lid rim mounts to absorb the impact against the body when the lid is being closed.

Capacity marks are almost always found on the exterior of the figurals. Lithophanes were absent from their production. The handles were also designed differently on many of their models. The area where the bottom of the handle met the stein body often was designed to act as an extension of the base to give the piece more stability (see figure __). This feature does not apply when the handle is an integral part of the design, such as the cat's tail handle on the Cat on Book. The main character design was usually found in the figural's body while the lid has a simple design.The heavy porcelain, pewter lid rims, exterior capacity marks, absence of lithophanes, and simpler-designed lids are traits that might detract from the design flow but add to the ease of actually using these figurals as drinking vessels.

Another feature found on many Bohne character steins is the bisque or dull glaze finish. This adds to the lifelike appearance of their pieces. This feature does not appear on every stein, however. Many of their designs carry a high-glaze finish. In fact, the amount of glaze often varies within different steins of the same character. Their manufactuirng method allowed Bohne to vary the application of the glazed portions on a single stein. They could select the face to be in bisque while the hat could carry a slight glaze. This enabled them to use any glaze combination they chose on any individual character stein. To make their pieces even more lifelike, they used glass eyes rather than mold-formed eyes on some designs and also designed their molds to produce textural body features such as feathers, fur, and garment wrinkles.


Between 1895 and approximately 1920, freelance artists, such as Kistler, Oppel, and Deubler, worked for the Thuringian porcelain factories. They sold their models to the highest bidder, which is why factories in Grafenthal, Sitzendorf, Possner, and Schaala (no longer in existence) also have models made by these artists.


Ernst Bohne Söhne liked to apply capacity marks on the exterior portion of the stein, generally near the top of the handle. On light-colored steins, the liter mark is usually applied in black paint. On dark bodies, they used light-colored paint. The capacity line is generally a straight line which is cut off on either end, with the size mark next to it. Bohne used both a decimal number and a fraction. When a decimal was used, it was often applied as 0,5L or 0,3L. A fraction appeared as ½L or ¼L. When a fraction rather than a decimanl was used, the 3/10 liter was changed to ¼ liter. On occasion, instead of using the letter L, they would use Ltr, or Lt. The one-liter size would be marked 1,0L. It is possible that Bohne used the fraction on steins made for export to English-speaking countries and decimals for others. However, figurals have been seen with German text marked with a fraction and English text marked with a decimal.

Another practice often used by Bohne was to take a stein of one size and change the capacity simply by raising or lowering the liter line. The Apple and Snake Bohne character stein can be marked 0.3L or 0.4L. The body sizes are identical, but the capacity lines are altered (see figure__). Bohne also produced the same character steins with 3/10 liter and 4/10 liter on different size bodies. This is also evident on the 4/10 liter and ½ liter versions. On the Man-in-the-Moon figural, they made a smaller version in a 3/10 liter size and a larger version in the 4/10 liter size. To further complicate matters, the 4/10 liter size is sometimes marked 0,5L. On occasion, the capacity mark is absent, especially on the one-liter sizes.


The majority of the Bohne character steins are ½ liter in size. Many of them were also made in the 3/10 liter (or ¼ liter) size, but these are more difficult to find. The more popular models such as Wrap around Alligator, Skulls, Satans, Indians, and Bisons, are abundant in the smaller sizes. However, many others are quite rare, and some have not as yet surfaced. Their existence has only been documented by old catalog information.

In most cases the smaller or larger version is an exact replica of the ½ liter. When that is the case only one photo is shown in this book. The other sizes are listed and priced. But, in the case of the Indian Head, for example (see #--- & ---), the ½ liter and the ¼ liter versions are different designs and both are shown. The smallest reported Bohne character stein is 1/8 liter while the largest is one liter.


As explained earlier, the majority of the handles found on Bohne figurals are simple in design with the base of the handle as part of the stein. However, this is not always true, and a number of their character steins were designed with the handle as an integral part of the overall design. While this latter design is obvious on some, it might not be on others. Below is a list of character handles found on Bohne character steins:

Acorn Tree branch handle
AlligatorAlligator body handle
Apple & SnakeSnake handle
Cat on BookCat tail handle
CucumberFish handle
Man-in-MoonKey handle
Money BagArm & hand handle
PigPig tail handle
Snufftaker/Sausage ManSausages handle
SkullBone handle
Skull-on-BookBone handle
Skull, back-to-backBone handle
SkullCaduceus handle


Music box bases were not often included in Ernst Bohne Söhne character steins. In two known steins, the designs were altered to accommodate a music box that was hidden inside a hollow book base. This was done on the ½ liter Skull on Book, the ½ liter Satan Head on Book, and Frog on Book. Since the Skull was already positioned on a book, Bohne made another version of this stein with a larger book hollowed out to accommodate the music box (see #___). The only other Bohne character stein known to have a music box base is one that was probably done outside of the factory, as it definitely has a Schierholz music box base.


Although there are many types of thumblifts on Bohne character steins, a couple of them seem to have been very popular. One is a small, blank crest. The other, and most representative, is an unusually shaped double curl. It cannot be automatically assumed that every figural with this thumblift was made by Bohne, but if the other traits are also present, there is a good chance that the stein is theirs.


Every Bohne character stein has a special mold number. It is not very often that this number actually appears on the piece. Most do not have a number present. However, when a number is visible on the base, it will generally be found near the handle and sometimes appears quite small. On rare occasions, the mold number will actually appear on the stein body itself.

When Bohne made the figural in different sizes, the ½ liter size is considered the main size and was cataloged with the proper number. When the same stein was also made in a 3/10 liter size, Bohne would usually add a 2 after it. A ½ liter #8423 Skull would become 8423/2 in the 3/10 liter size. If a stein came in three sizes, like the Skull on Book, the ½ liter is designated #9136, the 4/10 liter is 9136/4, and the 3/10 liter #9136/3. But this system was not the same throughout the line. On other figurals, the mold number changed completely when a different size was introduced. On the Artillery Shell (see #___), the ½ liter is #2350, the 3/10 liter is #2351, and the one liter is #2231. The mold number also was changed on the following:

Alligator0,5L #30400,3L #3041
Bison Head0,5L #58270,3L #5950
Cucumber0,5L #59150,3L #5916
Mephisto0,5L #47080,3L #5239
Monkey with Apple0,5L #39490,3L #3950

These are the only examples that are listed on a page in an the old catalog section.


Very often, character steins made by Bohne have no basemarks whatsoever, but the factory did use three distinct marks on some of their steins. The one found most often is a small anchor with the initials EB on either side of the anchor (see figure __). When this mark was used, it was very often incised into the base near the handle. This mark is often accompanied by the appropriate incised mold number. A second mark is similar to the first, but, instead of an incised anchor mark, it was applied via a blue stamp. The third Bohne mark is an N with a crown above it, also stamped in blue. This mark appears to be a copy of the old Capo-di-Monte mark.