Jacob (Jacques) Remy was born in 1568 in Lothingen, Alsace Lorraine, France, and in 1594, as a young man, he journeyed to the Höhr area. Johann Wilhelm Remy (1833-1911) was the first member of the Remy family to formally register a pottery firm. This occurred in 1864. Although beer steins were among their products during the first 20 years of operation, it was not until 1895 that large quantities of beer steins were exported worldwide. In the United States, the leading retailers were Macy’s and Gimbel’s. The Remy firm remained in the family. Johann’s daughter, Katarina Remy, married Wilhelm Kessler, and the firm was passed on to August, Karl, and Robert. Robert became the last manager and operator of the firm. Because of ill health, Robert Kessler closed the operation in 1966, and the firm’s molds were sold to Gilles & Sohn.
It is apparent that there are two distinctly different J.W. Remy character series, which are analyzed separately. It appears that one series was made at an earlier time, perhaps around the turn of the century, while the other might have been made later, possibly introduced between the two World Wars.
The first group was available three different ways. All were offered in either blue-grey stoneware, cream stoneware with simple accents of color, or in cream stoneware in full color. Most were mounted with pewter lid rims and all carry capacity marks. For the most part, these pieces are of high quality. The mold numbers are always three digits with numbers falling into the 700 or 900 series. The character steins that fall into this category include the following mold numbers:
|765 Man's Head with Flower in his Mouth|
|766 Woman's Head with Flower in her Mouth|
|971 Student Fox Holding Scroll*|
|971 Student Fox Holding Scroll*|
|* Seen only in catalogs, not surfaced as yet.|
A number of these character steins were reissued by M. Girmscheid after World War II. Some of the 700 and 900 series were produced without lid rims. It is possible that Girmscheid purchased these molds after the demise of J.W. Remy in 1966. These newer versions began to appear on the market in the 1970s. Girmscheid did not use the same numbering system. While the J.W.R. originals have three-digit numbers in the 700s & 900s, Girmscheid's numbers all were in the 800s. Those J.W.R. figurals included the following;
|OLD J.W. REMY||NEWER GIRMSCHEID|
The second group of J.W. Remy character steins also look different. Most were made without lid rims. All of them were made only in cream stoneware and generally carry only accented coloration. It is possible that any of these could have been made in full color. The ½ liter Bowling Pin, however, was offered in either cream color or brown wood grain. This character was also sometimes mounted with a pewter lid rim. None of the figurals in this series have been reported in blue-grey stoneware. This group is marked with a four-digit mold number on the base and, often, on the stein body itself. One interesting observation is that often there is a 1 inserted in front of the base mold number making it a five-digit number. Even though the base number might be 11299 the body number could be 1299. Why this system was used is baffling. Many of the figurals in this series were also made after World War II.
It is likely that this series was introduced between the Wars and production resumed soon after the end of World War II. The ones made after World War II are generally more brightly colored and have a glazed base. The earlier counterparts have unglazed bases. This category includes the following:
In both categories, the majority of the character steins were primarily made in the ½ liter size. Only the Munich Child and the Bowling Pin have been reported in more than one size. The smallest one cataloged is 1/8 liter and the largest is two liters.
MUSIC BOX BASES
To date, I have only seen one J.W. Remy character stein made on a music box base. This one is the earlier version of the Man's Head with a Flower in his Mouth. This full-color version sits on a deep, tapered music box base (see #___). It is possible that any of the early series could have been made this way.
Very few character steins are found with a factory mark. When they are, the most common one found on the early series is the J.W.R. in a rectangular box incised into the stein base (see #__). On post-War figurals, an attached JWR stamp is sometimes found (see #__).