The named Jos. M. Mayer comes up often when studying character steins. While Mayer’s full role in the development of these figurals is unclear, it is likely that they did not manufacture any ceramic bodies. They were probably designers, distributors, and maybe even retailers. The possibility exists that they were also pewtersmiths. Whatever their role, their character steins are extremely detailed and well designed. They remain very desirable and collectable.
The character steins that have been found bearing Mayer’s name are general made of porcelain. Mayer did, however, also issue figurals in cream stoneware. An examination of their porcelain characters suggests that many were commissioned from Schierholz & Sohn. This is particularly true of the Munich Child porcelain sets. The cream stoneware Munich Child steins appear to have been made by Merkelbach & Wick. All of these characters must have been special orders as none appear in these factories’ regular lines. Further study of these figurals indicates that they are related to Munich and are of the souvenir variety.
Even though Jos. M. Mayer did not produce any of the ceramic character stein bodies, they are referred to throughout this book as a manufacturer. Steins bearing their name were special-order pieces that were not part of the general product line offered by their ceramics supplier. Therefore, because these character steins were designed, commissioned, marketed, and distributed by Jos. M. Mayer, they are considered to be the manufacturer. When known, the producer of their designs is also listed.
MUNICH CHILD STEINS
Jos. M. Mayer is best known for numerous Munich Child character steins. The two series they are most noted for are the Pretzel series and the Radish series. Both series were designed the same way: both sit on a pedestal base, carry magnificent lifelike facial features, and were made in many sizes. The Radish series shows the Munich Child holding radishes in both arms, while the Pretzel series has her holding a pretzel under her right arm. Both sets are available in sizes ranging from miniature to two or 2½ liters. Because of the way they are designed, it is difficult to accurately determine capacity. Most carry capacity lines but do not list the liter amount. Also, the head of the Munich Child is often found tilted either to the right or to the left. The larger versions generally carry lithophanes; only the very small sizes do not. They are also very cleverly and decisively marked (see marks section). LATER CHANGE
Mayer also offered a series of cream stoneware Munich Child figurals with two different caps. These are available in either ½ or ¼ liter.
OTHER MAYER CHARACTERS
Mayer cleverly offered their famous Munich landmark church tower figural. They took a known porcelain stein body of the East Berlin Town Hall and altered the lid to that of the famous onion-dome lid of the Frauenkirche Church Tower. In order to further distinguish the stein, they often added a small Munich Child and applied the Mayer name to the pewter shank to indicate that it was their design (see figure ___).
Jos. M. Mayer also commissioned Schierholz & Sohn to make a figural in the shape of the head of Ludwig II. On this magnificent ½ liter stein, they ordered a special lithophane of Ludwig's castle. They had Jos. M. Mayer applied on one side of the handle and the word München on the other. A larger version of this stein exists and likewise includes a lithophane, handle marks, and an almost life-size head (see figure__).
Mayer steins were made in many sizes. The porcelain Munich Child Pretzel and Radish series came in sizes ranging from 2½ liters down to 1/16 liter. The Ludwig II figural usually came in the ½ liter size but was alternately made with an almost life-size head.
One of the most innovative traits of Mayer-designed character steins was the manner in which pieces were marked. In some cases, Mayer impressed their name onto the top of the character's base rim. Occasionally, they would include their address. Some of their figurals were marked Jos. M. Mayer Bayerstrasse 3 or Bayerstr. 3. At times, they left a rear base panel blank and applied their name, Jos. M. Mayer Bierkrugfabrik. They would also vary the rear panel inscription to suit their fancy. These markings only added to the steins’ charm. Cream stoneware figurals were incised Josef M. Mayer München, in two lines. As mentioned earlier, the Mayer name is also found on pewter shanks. A mold number has never been seen on any of their steins.