A major stein factory was founded by Reinhold Hanke in 1868 in the Westerwald town of Höhr. After his death in 1886, the company was run by his wife. In 1901, the Hankes’ two sons, Carl and August, took over the reins of the company. While Carl handled the marketing end, August, who was a designer, ran the factory. In 1912, they joined forces with S.P. Gerz, Reinhold Merkelbach, and Walter Müller to form the marketing firm Steinzeugwerke Höhr-Grenzhausen G.m.b.H. This partnership lasted for a short while. In 1921, a fire destroyed most of the Hanke factory and limited production. In 1938, after the demise of August, the factory closed. It shoud be noted that Reinhold Hanke was responsible for training many future competitors.

Reinhold Hanke produced many character steins. It appears that the majority of the figurals that appear in the Steinzeugwerke catalogs were made by the Hanke company. They were very versatile in their marketing approach. Those characters made of cream stoneware were often offered in a variety of styles. Some could be obtained in an overall cream coloring with the highlights accented. Sometimes they were offered with a minimum of color and also in full color. The styles varied from stein to stein. In this book some of the same figurals are listed separately for different colorations.


Reinhold Hanke worked in both cream stoneware and in blue-grey stoneware. In some instances, a given figural was offered in both materials, but they could also limit a piece to the material noted in this book. They are listed here the way they have been seen or reported. It is very likely that there are many variations as yet unreported.


As with most factories, the majority of Hanke’s figurals were made in the ½ liter size. Many of those in the master series of Knights were made in a larger size and, in some instances, the helmet lid is unmounted. It is interesting that, with the exception of the Munich Child figurals, most of Hanke’s character steins only were available in a single size.


Quite a few stein producers mounted their figurals with pewter lid rims. But there are certain series where no lid rim was deemed necessary. There does not seem to be a blanket statement that can be applied as to rims. It is necessary to check each character stein individually. When it is listed in this book a certain way, it is consistent from stein to stein. There are no known instances of a character being mounted both ways.


There is one series of ½ liter character steins made in either cream or blue-grey stoneware for which Hanke used the same stein bodies with different heads as lids. This series made the most of creativity by adding lids of famous German notables such as Bismarck, von Moltke, Wilhelm I and II, or Ludwig II, etc. This method is not unique to Hanke, but it was used very frequently by this factory (see figure__). There are collectors who make it a practice to accumulate as many of these sets as possible. It makes an interesting collection-within-a-collection.


The majority of the character steins made by Reinhold Hanke carry no identifiable factory marks. The only way to recognize them is to study their traits. They did occasionally use a simple incised RH or an RH in a circular basemark (see figure__).