Was Your German Stein Really Made In Germany?
by Evelyn Whitaker
I'm sure you've all seen it, you look at the bottom of a stein or German made product and it says "Made in Germany". You think you've acquired an item that was made in Germany. Right? Not necessarily so!
Whether you are aware of it or not, there are some German manufacturers that actually have their steins manufactured in China! They are then shipped back to Germany where the relief decoration, pewter lids, etc. are applied and before the items are put on the shelf, they are labeled "Made in Germany".
This practice was only discovered during the late part of last year. A company by the name of Ziler and Born, along with their attorney wrote to all the companies involved and threatened legal action. So far, two of these firms, Armin Bay Keramic & Prasente GmbH and DOMEX Geschenk-Manufactur GmbH, just recently settled out of court after admitting to what they were doing wrong. They have also agreed to pay approximately $26,500 for each future violation.
You may now be thinking that you have nothing to be concerned about, but you should be aware that the agreements signed by these two companies have no application in the United States and you, as an American consumer, really have no protection against the mislabeled steins.
So how do you deal with this problem? The best way is to limit buying steins to those that have the marks of German manufacturers who are well known to be making their own products. Avoid the companies that are known to be outsourcing their steins to China or elsewhere. Below you will see an Armin Bay logo on the bottom of a Chinese made stein and also a picture of a DOMEX logo which came from a stein also manufactured in China.
Another way to be safe about making sure you are getting a stein that was really made in Germany is to make sure that the "Made in Germany" is etched or embossed into the clay. This has to be done before the stein is fired and it is illegal to import into Germany any product which already bears the words "Made in Germany".
In an article dated May 21, 1999 of the Westerwald Zeitung in Germany, the following was published (this has been translated from German to English):
"Gerz Sells, Only the Name Remains
SESSENBACH/HILLSCHEID. The name of the beer stein manufacturer Gerz, who went bankrupt in Sessenbach, remains preserved, however, apparently not the production. As the Westerwald Zeitung found out yesterday, the DOMEX Geschenk-Manufaktur GmbH in Hillscheid bought the Gerz "mark".
This means that in the future DOMEX will sell ceramic vessels with the name Gerz. However, these products will no longer be produced in Sessenbach. Oliver Sahm, Managing Partner of DOMEX: "The production is Sessenbach is not profitable. We will purchase the Gerz articles worldwide and finish them in Hillscheid. As much as possible we will use local suppliers for that." Sahm initially expects to create ten new positions in his company. At present he has sixty employees. In their heyday, Gerz employed more than 200 people.
These steins have already begun to reach the marketplace. Buyer beware!
Evelyn Whitaker writes articles for German Toasting Glasses http://www.german-toasting-glasses.com which specializes in custom engraved wedding gifts from Germany.