Mike Wald began researching HR steins back in 1973. In 1980, his book, "HR Steins," was published by Stein Collectors International. For ten years this book was the HR collectors bible. Then, in 1990, Mike came up with a new theory stating that HR had never actually manufactured steins, but had ordered blanks marked with the HR logo from other factories, and simply decorated, and applied the pewter to them.
In a series of Prosit articles, Jack Lowenstein and Lotti Lopez took issue with Mike's new theory. Jack and Lotti's views were based upon the findings of Werner and Irmgard Endres, and Drs. Herbert Hagn and Erwin Neumair. Those findings resulted from evidence unearthed during two "digs" in Freising; one in 1988 the other in 1990. In a short article, in the March, 1992 Prosit, Mike tried, without much success, to explain away the findings.
At the time his book was published, Mike believed that the HR factory was founded in 1876, that the practice of marking the country of origin on products didn't begin in Germany until 1895, and that all stoneware, and porcelain, HR steins, were produced concurrently. Because Freising had only one kiln, and because the HR mark is found on steins of three different materials, stoneware, ivory stoneware and porcelain, Mike doubted, and rightfully so, that Freising was the source of all HR steins. By 1990, unable to reconcile the problem, Mike came to believe that HR was a finishing shop only, importing stein blanks from elsewhere. However, by 1992, Mike had softened this stance a little, and conceded that HR might have produced porcelain steins. We can now conclude from our findings that HR not only purchased, and decorated blanks from another manufacturer as Mike suspected, but that they were also a stein manufacturer in their own right, producing both stoneware, and porcelain.
Depending on how you count them, there were either four, or five, different production periods in Freising between 1876 and ca.1907. Freising produced both stoneware and porcelain, but NOT at the same time. They produced stoneware from 1876 to 1886, and porcelain from 1886 to ca.1907. In Germany, marking products with the country of origin began, not in 1895, but in 1887, as a requirement of the "Merchandising Marks Act of 1887." This last point is one of the keys to determining what happened in Freising.
Mike passed away in 1998 without providing any further updates on the HR factory and their products. Collectors today, because of the contradictory information they have received, are as nearly in the dark concerning HR, as they were before Mike published his book.
When I started this project I wanted to show that Freising was a producing factory and that Hauber & Reuther was more than just a finishing shop, that they indeed manufactured steins, but it quickly turned into something far more complex than that.
Trying to get a handle on the Freising factory question, is like trying to catch a greased pig; just as you think you have it firmly in your grasp, it slips away and is off in another direction. Mike called it a "can of worms."
The problems arise from the apparent diversity of products from such a small factory. They had only 30 employees and one kiln, but we find steins in three different materials, as well as custom decorated pieces in all three materials. Even the factory marks have been a challenge. In his book Mike reported three different marks, and to date I have identified six different marks, four of them, with two or more variations. As I write this, I am pondering a combination of body style and marks that should not be found in combination, yet here it is and... oops, there goes the pig again.
As you might have suspected this is very much a work in progress. It is far from being finished and in fact may never be finished, but I felt it was important to get what is known, or suspected about Hauber & Reuther, and the Freising factory, before collectors so they can see where the research stands and perhaps help bring this work to a conclusion. Thanks to the Internet, a new model or variety surfaces about once a week, and with virtually each new piece comes new questions. Sometimes though they provide answers, or verification of what was only suspected up to that time.
Because there are no factory records or catalogs much of this work is theory, based on logically arrived at conclusions, derived from the facts and physical evidence that we do have.
Unfortunately, over the past twenty years there has been little or no open discussion on Hauber & Reuther, or the Freising factory, and it is time that there was.
I know there are collectors out there who probably have opinions on this subject, so why don't you share them with us? Marty Cameli got things off to a good start in the September, 2000 PROSIT with his article "Rare and Unusual Hauber & Reuther Steins."
Don't let it end there.