Photo album "Beer mugs from the museum Collection repository” for the Day of the Russian brewer

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!
(Robert Burns John Barleycorn)

Every year, on the second Saturday of June, Russia celebrates the main holiday of domestic beer brewers – The day of Russian Brewer. It was established by the decision of the Union of Russian Brewers on January 23, 2003. The history of Russian brewing spans more than one hundred years, as evidenced by documentary chronicles and tsarist missive letters; it acquired the industrial scale in the 18th century. In general, in world history, the earliest evidence of beer brewing dates back to about 4-3 centuries BC, which makes this profession one of the most ancient.

Beer appeared in Europe thanks to the legendary German king Gambrinus, who married Isis - the Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility that was skilled be skilled in the art of brewery. Beer is a lofty drink, with its history and certain consumption rules: beer drinking is a ritual with definite aim - to enjoy. In the opinion of our ancestors, the basic premise is the following - one should drink beer from a mug.

A beer mug has rich history. Nowadays, brewing companies apply their logos to modern glass mugs, it is a souvenir product, but its shape did not change essentially. A mug has a handle, which prevents the contents to warm up from hands. Utilized as common crockery initially, in the long run, beer mug developed into the museum item became the object of interest for collectors. In catalogs it is designated by the word Stein, which means "stone". It should be noted that initially the word was used to define a peculiar beer mug with fixed hinged lid and thumb ramp. What was the purpose for creating such mugs? The 14th century was a period when the raging plague epidemic engulfed entire European towns. The plague forced the German principalities at the legislative level obliged manufacturers to produce containers for cooking and storing food only with lid, which will be a shield to prevent pests from contact with the food and beverages. It was just a sanitarian guideline, but was dealing with beer vessels directly. One might say that wholesale deaths contributed to the development of crafts. The first beer mugs were originally made from wood (similar with barrel or keg). Later, mugs were made from clay, but they absorbed moisture and acquired unpleasant smell. Most common and convenient were the mugs made of tin. At that time, beer mugs were a luxury. They were hand-made, made to order or small quantities by single purpose workshops. By the end of the 17th century, the so-called regional style developed in Europe, which made it possible to establish the area where this or that item was made. Thus, in Scandinavia the mugs were traditionally made from wood, with the lids fixed on wooden brackets. For a time, the shape of beer mugs and glasses was the main differentiating feature. For example, the mugs made in Austria and Bohemia had wide and rather bulky outlines, while those that were made in England and the northern regions of Germany they had more refined form.

With the time, mugs were made not only from tin, but from crystal, porcelain, ivory and silver as well. It is worth remembering silver masterpieces created in the 18-19th centuries in the Russian Empire, - the items created by Ivan Khlebnikov and Pavel Ovchinnikov factories.

The more expensive was a mug, the more elaborate and luxuriant was the lid. The lids were enchased with gemstones, engravings, and genre sculptures. Such topics as army, hunting, sports, fishing, caricature and animals were especially popular. Beer mugs could perform a representative function - they were ordered for certain occasions (mustering out of service, anniversary, wedding, retirement, etc.). For storing such "personal" utensils, the owners of drinking places allocated special lockers for the habitual frequenter. Personal beer mug with lid became the claim for fame and important trophy asset.

In the second half of the 19th century, industrial methods of images application were implemented for beer mugs and glasses production. Thus, manual finishing seized to be required. It was the time when beer mugs became similar to those that we use nowadays. Presently, the attitude to beer mugs and tankards is different. Mugs perform decorative function and are produced as souvenirs. The historical items (similar to modern works of art) become museum items and are sought for by collectors.

We posted photo album comprised of multifarious mugs – the museum Collection exhibits, manufactured in various countries at different times.

* Item from the museum Collection exposition is on the cover:
Beer mug. Russian Empire, Moscow. 1874. Pavel Ovchinnikov.