This company is included here in order to clarify who they were and what their role was in the stein-making community. Through the years they have been referred to as a stein manufacturer. In their sales catalog dated 1912-1925, many character steins are illustrated, giving the impression that these were produced by Steinzeugwerke. Actually Steinzeugwerke was a marketing and sales agency formed in 1912 by four of the leading beer stein manufacturers: Simon Peter Gerz, Reinhold Hanke, Reinhold Merkelbach, and Walter Müller. At the time the group was formed, the market for beer steins in general had slackened and this sales group was an attempt by the manufacturers to combine their efforts in a unique manner. All of the beer steins offered were produced by one of the four partner stein makers. It is doubtful that this enterprise was very successful. According to Gerz, their affiliation lasted until after World War I when the Gerz factory closed due to the economic crisis. Reinhold Hanke stayed with Steinzeugwerke “for a short time.” In 1921, a fire destroyed most of Hanke's factory and limited future production. Reinhold Merkelbach was connected with Steinzeugwerke from 1912 until 1918. No information is available regarding Walter Müller's dates of affiliation.
Steinzeugwerke used no identifiable markings on any of the steins they offered. In addition, none of the steins belonging to any of the participating manufacturers carried specific markings. There is no way today that one can tell if the stein came directly from the factory or from this sales agency.
Concentrating strictly on character steins illustrated in the Steinzeugwerke catalog, it appears that most, if not all, were supplied by Reinhold Hanke. Reinhold Merkelbach, still doing business today, has stated that they did not supply any character steins to Steinzeugwerke. None appear to be from Gerz. Over the years I have had the opportunity to study most of the figurals illustrated. In studying their traits, numbering systems, etc., it is my opinion that they were manufactured by Reinhold Hanke and are labeled as such in this book. Future research may prove me wrong, but this is my belief at the present time.