Even though the pottery factory founded by Simon Peter Gerz in Höhr started in 1857, they did not officially register with the Guild until 1862. After Gerz’s death in 1893, they became a limited corporation led by Alfons Wilhelm Loetschert, the husband of Gerz's daughter Luise. In 1912, Gerz, along with Reinhold Merkelbach, Reinhold Hanke, and Walter Müller, formed a group called Steinzeugwerke Höhr-Grenzhausen G.m.b.H. and began operating as a marketing company.
After World War I the factory closed. An economic crisis led to difficulties in distribution and to a reduction of work power. A brief revival occurred in 1934, but this was interrupted by the onset of World War II. After the War, exportation developed as a dominant part of the business. This necessitated a new plant which was built in 1967 in Sessenbach and continues to operate today.
Although S.P. Gerz was a huge producer of beer steins at the turn of the century, only a small percentage were character steins. More specifically, only a small percentage carried the Gerz basemark. It is possible that Gerz produced special order character steins on which they omitted all basemarks. In the flyer that they distribute today, it states that “The molds of all firms were interchanged during those years. That's the only explanation for finding the same models with the trademarks of different manufacturers.” I have come across a number of cases where one figural carries a Gerz basemark and mold number while another example of the same figural is completely unmarked. I examined two examples of a blue-grey one-half liter Shaggy Dog figural, one carrying all Gerz basemarks and the other with no basemarks at all. Close examination revealed that, while the stein bodies were identical, the tail-like handles and the bases were different. On another example, a one-half liter Jester carried all Gerz basemarks while another Jester of the same size exhibited characteristics of Reinhold Hanke. Identification of figurals in this book had to be limited to instances where the marks were present. Since World War II Gerz has been a major producer of character steins, seizing the lucrative American and novelty markets.
S.P. Gerz worked in both cream stoneware and blue-grey stoneware. However, only certain figurals have been noted in both materials. The majority were produced in cream stoneware allowing them to be decorated either minimally or in full color.
The majority of figurals made by Gerz were one-half liter in size. Few are smaller or larger. The smallest I have encountered is one-sixteenth liter while the largest is one liter.
PEWTER LID RIMS
In studying character steins made by Gerz, I find no consistency in the mounting methods used. In some cases they utilized a lid rim while in others they did not. They did remain true to form within the specific piece; I have never seen the same figural mounted both ways. In one series of Head characters, only pewter lids were used. With the post-World War II steins, the general rule seems to be that lid rims were eliminated from their design.
S.P. Gerz is one of the largest stein factories catering to special orders, especially character steins. They produce special designs for big companies such as WEBCO, Coca-Cola, and Anheuser-Busch.
Direct-marketed Gerz character steins produced prior to World War I were consistently basemarked. The company became famous for their stein-in-triangle incised mark (see figure__). Later products still carry this mark, but it is applied via a stamp. Since their move to Sessenbach in 1967, Gerz has sometimes used other marks (see figures__).