"Tale of Two Diesingers"

The "Good Judge" mug
I began collecting northwest Breweriana in the early '80s, and my first NW beer stein¹ was the fairly common Rainier version often referred to as the "Judge” stein. I was later to learn that this ¼L stein was made by Aldolf Diesinger, ca.1903.

Since this had been a fairly common stein I didn't pay close attention to the design details. I finally noticed that the frieze band below the lip was not the same on all of the "judge" steins, and have since found four different variations. 

In my early years of collecting (prior to eBay) I subscribed to numerous breweriana mail auction catalogs, including the stein auction catalogs. Sometime in the early '90s I found an auction listing for a ¼L Rainier stein that I had never seen, but had similarities to the "Judge.” 

Two Rainier Beer steins by Diesinger, ca.1902
Subsequently, I was outbid but thought it was no big deal and that I'd just be more aggressive when the next one turned up. I waited over thirty years before I found another one (plus a variation) and they're now in my collection.

An example of this stein has the base marking: "D.R.G.M 154927 - Gesetzligh Geschutzt - Germany." D.R.G.M. 154927 was issued to Adolf Diesinger on 9 April 1901, and refers to the use of an outline around the figures.

Side panel for Rainier stein c.1902

I was puzzled by the choice of subject matter so I did some research, and found some interesting connections. First, I found that the design for this  side panel was made by the Binner Engraving Company.

Pabst Malt Tonic ad by Binner Engraving In 1895 this agency undertook a magazine ad campaign for the Pabst Brewing Company. The public’s response to these striking graphics, and the success of similar ads for Pabst, propelled the Binner Co. to the top ranks of the country's ad agencies.

Rainier Beer ad by Binner Engraving The Seattle Brewing & Malting Co. was also impressed with Binner's work and contracted with the company to produce display ads for their Rainier Beer. This large graphic is one of the first examples. The Binner company name can be found in the lower right-hand corner.

1902 ad for Rainier by Binner Engraving
In 1902 Binner began a series of smaller ads for Rainier and their first was the basis for the figure on one of the side panels that I had puzzled over. The Binner mark is in the lower right of the black boarder.

Strangely, the other side panel has the figure of the Münchner Kindl², or Munich child. This iconic figure was rarely used by any U.S. brewery, but when it was, it was usually the Pabst Brewing Co. They used this version of the Munich child on both a beer tray and on a post card.

Side panel for Rainier stein c.1902The Munich child has never appeared in any other Rainier advertising – in this or any other pose. However, the version that appeared in this Pabst self-framed sign (below) was an exact match to this one on the Rainier stein.

Pabst's Munich child from painting by SchwartsIn 1896 the German painter, Alfred Schwarts, painted this version of the Munich child as part of a set³. It appears that Binner later "enhanced" the print, adding the Pabst logo to the uplifted stein and imprinting Pabst identification to the butt end of the keg.

This adoption of Schwarts’ image was probably done first for the Rainier stein, and when the design was not to be used in any Rainier print advertising, the alteration of the painting was then done for Binner’s other client, the Pabst Brewing Co.

A good Judge knows Rainier by Binner-Wells c.1903 In Oct. 1902 Oscar Binner gained a partner and the company was reorganized as the Binner-Wells Co. The following year they published this ad that was the inspiration for the “Judge” stein (top of the page). While the ad doesn’t depict a wigged magistrate like the stein, the tag line is essentially the same. The 1903 ad displays the new Binner-Wells logo in the lower left-hand corner.

Rainier ad, c.1908 by Binner-WellsSeattle Brewing & Malting stayed with Binner-Wells until 1908, when they went with a local company, Western Engraving & Colortype, for their Rainier ads. But not before Binner-Wells produced this powerful graphic for a 1907 magazine.


¹  Through common usage it's understood that a stein has a lid, and a mug does not. However, a stein may have lost its lid or was issued without one - as is often the case, but it's still a stein. So, for the purpose of this discussion we'll call these steins.

²  The Münchner Kindl is the name of the figure on the coat of arms of the city of Munich - the beer capital of Bavaria.

Since the 13th century the figure has been that of a monk holding a book, but by the 16th century it evolved through different portrayals into the figure of a small child wearing a pointed hood, often shown holding a beer mug and a radish.
The gender of the figure has also changed over the years: from an adult male, to a gender-neutral child, to a small girl.

This updated version of the Munich child is widely used, yet Munich's original coat-of-arms is still that of a monk holding a book.

³  Munchner kindl pair by Alf SchwartsMany stein collectors will recognize these images as the basis  for the figures atop a pair of steins created by Schierholz & Shon.

Article by Gary Flynn

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