Posted by: philipfontana | November 14, 2018





Philip Fontana


     Excuse us for living, but most everyone eventually has a collection of something. We call these precious possessions “collectables.” If you think about it and mentally survey the place in which you live, you might surprise yourself that you have something you collect, maybe more than one collectable! For me, it’s been German beer steins and assorted mugs and pewter tankards. For wife Geri, her number one collectable is Dalton porcelain ladies from the UK. But when we take full-stock of our surroundings, we realize we collect a number of other things. I covet my collection of every CD ever recorded by Michael Feinstein! And Geri has a lovely collection of Carnival glass pieces and a collection of assorted music boxes. I could go on, from books, naturally, to postage stamp album (remember those?), old vinyl records, to paintings, prints, and sculpture. – – And there’s more! – – That Dutch Delft china, white with blue markings! – – Enough! So take a look around your abode and see what collectables you have!

A SteinShelves

         This is the most updated photo of “the mother lode” of German beer steins I have collected. A few more have been added since this photo was taken. There are 116 beer steins in all, mostly German except for one from Belgium & another from Austria. The very first stein I collected is in the top left corner of the photo, the one without a lid! (Close up in a moment!)   I purchased that during my college years. – -More about that later! Then there are, picture coming up also, 24 college mugs & assorted other mugs from the Netherlands to McSorley’s Ale House in New York City. – – Plus add to that 10 pewter tankards & 10 Anheuser Busch-type steins. – – All totaled 160 steins & mugs, pewter, & counting! Geri encouraged me to pursue my interest & collection when we could least afford it in our early years of marriage with infrequent purchases at a flea markets & garage sales. As the years moved on we ventured into antique shops to find steins & mugs & pewter tankards. Even relatives & friends started giving me steins they owned! But the majority of the German beer steins came from “The Stein Man,” as we affectionately dubbed him! – – Allan Brody of Hammonton, New Jersey, about 30 miles west of Atlantic City, NJ. An antique shop proprietor introduced us to Allan almost 20 years ago. Allan sold steins at very reasonable prices. As the years past, Allan became a dear friend of ours, meeting, buying steins, & “doing lunch” during our stays in Atlantic City. The Stein Man’s prices became lower & lower as our friendship became warmer & closer. And so, over the years one lonely German beer stein from my college years grew slowly at first & then more rapidly into a collection!

B Top Shelf.JPG

        This top shelf of large steins is a very recent photo & right up to date. Almost all of them were purchased from Allan Brody, The Stein Man. As you can see, some of these steins are huge. Steins are measured by their liter capacity, marked on the bottom of the stein. As an example, the largest steins hold 3 liters of beer. The bottom of the stein also shows the marked symbol of the manufacturer, some more desirable than others, thus, adding to the value.

C First Stein

       My first stein purchase was made in 1968 while on concert tour with the Rutgers University Glee Club. While it is a German stein, it was purchased in a little shop in the small town of Echternach, Luxembourg, for $7.00 American. Despite the absence of a lid, it is one of the most beautiful steins in the collection, based on the sculpted facade of a hunting scene. It is quite unique among the other tavern-drinking & domestic scenes depicted on most other steins, with graphics accompanied by a written phrase or two in German, naturally.

D More Steins

       These shelves accommodate the “overflow” of steins from the larger wall-unit. – – Too much here to point out to you! The bottom left is the shelf of 10 Anheuser Busch-type steins. And that partially blocked dish, middle right shelf, is very special; it is from & all about Luxembourg. One scene on the plate actually depicts the town hall of Echternach where the Rutgers University Glee Club performed outdoor concerts during both 1966 & 1968 tours!!!

E NewestStein

This stein is unique & special to the collection. I purchased it while on a river cruise down the Rhine in 2015 in a shop in the Black Forest, the Schwarzwald, where it was manufactured. It is the only stein in the collection purchased brand new & in Germany!

F Mugs & Steins

        All the college mugs, assorted other mugs from the Netherlands to McSorley’s Ale House, some pewter, & my early purchases of German beer steins without lids are showcased on the old upright piano!

G PianoTop

      Here’s a close-up of the piano top with mugs & steins. Mostly college mugs are featured in the foreground. (Talk about collectables, that center watercolor portrait is an excellent likeness of my namesake paternal grandfather, Philip Fontana, painted by my professional artist Uncle Joseph Cali. And top right is a poster of the Rutgers University Glee Club from 1967.)

H CloseupMugs

     And here is a “side aerial view” of the piano top to see the depth of the collection here.  –Front right, that’s the mug from McSorley’s Ale House in New York City! –And front center, a Delft mug from the Netherlands! If you look closely, you’ll catch a huge pewter college mug halfway down, photo center…It’s a beauty from Syracuse University!!!


     Excuse us for living in our old 1885 Dutch Colonial for these 43 years. With the house presently hanging a “For Sale” sign out front, the present display of steins, etc., will sadly come to an end. But we plan to keep the collection carefully stored on basement shelves with a rotating display of selected steins in the living room or family room. Even now we have a few steins scattered throughout our rooms. – – Steins! – -My #1 major collectable! I’d be interested to hear from you in the comments section below!  What is your favorite “collectable”?

Sources: 160 steins, mugs, & tankards!

Comments: Please!



  1. Wow Phil

    You have quite a collection of Steins. It must be hard deciding which one to use when you decide to pop a cap of good German or American Craft beer. All those mugs brought back memories of cases of Budweiser, Millers, and Schlitz we got at the Cam Ranh Bay PX. They didn’t have pop tops back then so if you were lucky you had someone send you a church key from the world. If not you punched holes in the top as best you could with your trusty P-38. I remember one time we lifted a pallet of beer that was sent to our yard by mistake. 48 cases of beer we drank for weeks.

    • Bill Wonsik, Bill!!! Thanks for the great comment here! No, I rarely use any of them & if I do I use a small pewter one. Right, shopping for beer at the PX in Cam Ranh Bay! I don’t remember how we opened the cans!!! A pallet of beer with 48 cases????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow!!!! How great was that!!!!!!!!!! Phil

    • Bill Wonsik where were you in Vietnam and what unit I remember the guys getting a pallet of beer but I think it was Korean Beer. I was in the 155 Transportation

  2. Hi Phil
    What a story of your stein collection- loved reading about them and seeing closeups of your collection.
    I have a salt and pepper collection of places that Jim and I visited during our travels. But this collection is still boxed up in my garage! After I moved, I really didn’t have a place To showcase them- one day I will find something to place all of the salt and – until then they remain in the garage.

    • Margaret, Marg!!! Many thanks for your comments on the steins which you know so well in person & even gave me one of your dear steins from your Dad was it? And Erin gave me a small one from her other grandfather. How neat! –Salt & Pepper Shakers from your travels with Jim!!! You should make it a project to create a place to display them! I bet you have many other collectables! Think about it!
      Thanks for the nice comment & have a Happy Thanksgiving with the St. Jeans!!! Phil

  3. That is quite a collection, Phil!! I suppose the only things I have comparable are books. They’ve taken over my home!! My better-half continually asks me to organize, but who has time? 🙂

    • GP Cox, GP!!! Thanks for the nice comment! YOUR BOOKS!!! Me too with four major book cases! Organize?????? I bet you know where every book you want is located!!! Happy Thanksgiving! Phil

      • hahaha, yup I do. Some people just don’t understand ‘organized chaos’!! LOL

  4. GP Cox, GP! You’re right! Organized chaos! Like my workbench! It’s a mess! But I can go right to anything i need as good as any hardware store shelf!!! So let’s keep up our “organized mess”! Phil

  5. That’s some collections you have my friend! 🙂 I loved the photo’s and your story about them. ❤

    • Just Patty, Patty!!! Many thanks for looking at my collection of steins & story! If this house ever sells, we have a lot of things to move! Thanks again! Phil

  6. Philip Fontana thank you for buddy letter

    • Arnold Cooper, You got the buddy letter!c Great! And thanks for the “Friend” on Facebook! Phil

  7. I started collecting steins in 1973 when I went off to college and started traveling so much. I also started collecting scrimshaw. I had huge collections, but both got left behind in College Station in 1993 when I escaped Texas.

    • Russel Ray Photos, Russel, Your story of collecting steins is just like my story….1968 traveling through Europe I purchased my first stein. It’s been a hobby of love, all 156 beer steins, mugs & pewter goblets. Scrimshaw too!!! I never collected scrimshaw. Some must be worth a good amount. Left it all in College Station, Texas!!!! You didn’t keep anything? We moved to our new place with all 156 steins, mugs, & pewter. Geri & I made the move in two trips in our car!!! Some are already being displayed. More to come out of storage from shelves in our garage as we continue to set up the new place. Phil

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