Many character steins have been seen with the familiar T.W. incised basemark. The T.W. basemark is often observed on souvenir-style character steins. Especially common are the Bavarian landmark buildings such as the Nürnberg Tower and Munich's Frauenkirche Church Tower.
In an advertisement for Nürnberg Tower steins found on a porcelain kiosk stein (see figure__), Theodor Wieseler was portrayed as a Nürnberg glass manufacturer. They saw the opportunity to cash in on the growing souvenir frenzy by selling character steins to retailers, including Wieseler’s retail outlet, Wieseler & Mahler. Since they were not ceramic manufacturers, Theodor Wieseler commissioned Merkelbach & Wick as well as other Westerwald stein makers to supply them with stein bodies.
Even though Wieseler did not produce any of the ceramic character stein bodies, I will be referring to them throughout this book as a manufacturer. Steins bearing their marks are special order pieces that are not part of the general product line offered by their supplier. Therefore, because of the fact that these character steins were designed, commissioned, marketed and distributed by Wieseler, I consider them to be the manufacturer. When known, I will also list the producer of their designs.
The majority of Wieseler’s character steins were the landmark tower steins noted above. All of these were made of blue-grey stoneware. These were in competition with the cream stoneware towers marketed by Felsenstein & Mainzer. Theodor Wieseler also offered the Nürnberg Iron Maiden in blue-grey stoneware. You will find a few others throughout this book made from cream stoneware, and even one made out of porcelain.
All of Theodor Wieseler’s tower steins were made with fancy pewter lids that formed elaborate roofs. The onion-domed roof formed Munich’s Frauenkirche Church Tower lid. A fancy Munich Child thumblift was also present. An octagon-tapered, turret-like roof formed the lids on the Nürnberg Tower figurals. It is likely that Wieseler had the pewter work done locally.
It seems that the Nürnberg Tower steins were offered in almost all sizes ranging from one-eighth liter up to 2½ liters. The Frauenkirche Church Tower was also available in many sizes. The Iron Maiden was only available in the one-half liter size.
Theodor Wieseler had the initials T.W. incised into the base or incorporated into the design of every character stein sold (see figure__). Many of these appear to have been produced by Merkelbach & Wick for Wieseler. On occasion the T.W. mark was incised in a different manner, probably by a different ceramics supplier.