In my endeavors to identify the various character steins, a group of blue-grey figurals remains having similar traits that link them together. None of these fit comfortably into any other manufacturer's column. Some carry an intertwined HR mark incised into their bases, but most do not. Is it possible that all of these similar character steins were actually manufactured by Hauber & Reuther?
It has been my belief that Hauber & Reuther mainly designed, decorated, and distributed steins with their marks, but did very little manufacturing. They are known mainly for their etched cream stoneware steins (which I am convinced were ordered from and manufactured by Höhr-Grenzhausen factories). But, their earlier blue-grey etched, as well as other blue-grey steins, seem to carry many of the traits that are found on the unidentified blue-grey stoneware character steins.
Some stein historians believe that the origins of Hauber & Reuther lie in the formation of the factory by Regensberg potters. They are also of the belief that the first pieces manufactured at Hauber & Reuther were made from blue-grey stoneware. This may be correct, but it is also possible that these early HR stoneware steins did not carry any identifiable manufacturer's marks. We rarely find Regensberg steins with factory markings. When they do appear, I must consider the possibility that Hauber & Reuther could have been the maker of some, if not all, of these unidentified blue-grey stoneware character steins.
The answer may lie in the traits of this group of character steins. The most important link is the distinctive capacity mark, which is found on most of these character steins. The same distinctive liter mark is found on most early etched and mosaic style marked HR steins. This capacity mark is always found on marked one-half liter HR characters. It is distinguished by the way the fraction is incised into the stein body. It is a fairly large fraction with a 1 over a 2 separated by a horizontal line. A huge L sits directly to the right, equal in height to the entire fraction. A capacity line generally is impressed directly beneath or near it (see figure__). I have not seen this type of mark used by any other known factory.
The first set of character steins that carry this distinctive capacity mark seems to be early blue-grey character steins that often carry a high glaze in either cobalt or manganese. They are all one-half liter in size, with a pewter lid rim, and a two-digit mold number. My guess is that these were made in the 1880s. We often find interchangeable heads and bodies among them. All of the handles are the same and sometimes an edelweiss is found incised into the base. A partial list of the mold numbers on this series are:
|Nun (decorated)||51 (HR-33)|
|Admiral Sailor, criss-cross sash||52|
|Jester (decorated)||53 (HR-44)|
|Student fox (decorated) ||54 (HR-32)|
|Pirate hat, Medalled cutaway coat||55|
|Admiral sailor, plain body||55|
|Admiral cap, medalled cutaway coat||55|
|Cutaway coat, HB stein, top hat||56|
|Woman holding radishes & stein||57|
|Woman holding radishes & stein (decorated) ||57 (HR-??)|
|Top hat, medaled cutaway coat||97|
|Cutaway coat, plain hat||97|
|*same unusual capacity mark, no high glaze finish|
Occasionally we see one of these blue-grey figurals with a full-color enameled decoration. These have a painted HR mark along with a separate number. The mark and number could possibly have been done after the stein was glazed. On the above chart these are indicated next to the original mold number.
When we examine character steins that appear to be made a little later, possibly in the 1890s or 1900s, most of the steins in the above list ceased being manufactured except for the Owl and Man on the Barrel. During this period we find some character steins carrying an identifiable HR basemark. The Owl and the Man on the Barrel made at this time were marked. So were other character steins. Along with the addition of the markings came other trait changes. However, the distinctive liter mark remained. In addition to the HR mark, a small GESETZLICH GESCHÜTZT was added to the base. Also, sometimes a script capital L or lower case l would appear. The handles that are present on the steins listed above sometimes changed.
Also at the turn of the century, we find the same distinctive capacity mark on character steins that carry the LB&C incised basemark. These character steins also carry the same GESETZLICH GESCHÜTZT mark as on the HR marked pieces. Could it be that Hauber & Reuther manufactured these figurals for a Munich retailer or distributor with the initials LB&C? We do find other blue-grey etched steins by Hauber & Reuther that carry other company names, so why not character steins? (see figure___)
At this same time Hauber & Reuther slowed manufacturing and found it was more economical to have the blanks made for their steins in the Westerwald, where the clay they were using was in abundance. Hauber & Reuther could then concentrate on decorating and marketing their steins. This is what happened with the rest of their line. At this point they stopped working in blue-grey stoneware and concentrated on cream stoneware. So far I have not seen or heard of any character steins that carry an HR mark in this material.
In this book I will identify all of these possible Hauber & Reuther character steins with a question mark (Hauber & Reuther?). Research is an ongoing endeavor. As many collectors know, I have always been reluctant to accept the fact that Hauber & Reuther manufactured blue-grey stoneware, yet the traits listed above cannot be ignored. I now believe it is a very real possibility that Hauber & Reuther was in fact responsible for these unidentified character steins.
OTHER CHARACTER STEINS THAT SOMETIMES CARRY AN HR MARK