I just do not have the time. My web site was really started as an informational site for beginning beer stein collectors that would be looking for the info and not the general public. This So if one put in “Wood Steins” or “Hand painted steins,” it
What you bought, is where you were, when!
[With my sincere apologies to Dr. Morris Massey.] Or AKA : Okay “newboy” this is how this stein collecting business really works!
I first became aware of this “Chain link” phenomenon at an antiques show in the Columbia Maryland Shopping Mall many years ago. I saw a “piece of something” I liked at a booth and asked the price. The dealer told me he had just purchased it for ‘1$s’ amount at this same show the day before. He “really didn’t want to sell it” … BUT if I gave him ‘2$s’, then he would sell it to me, right then and there!
I spent the better part of five hours there walking around the show and just learning about things and took some time out to eat. As I started cruising again, low and behold, I saw another one of the same thing again. This time it was marked ‘3$s.’ I laughed when I picked it up and the dealer said “what’s funny?” So I asked him, “Did you just buy this from “Mr. So and So”, the dealer within the last few hours? and truthfully he said “yes, he had.”
So that is when I started thinking about the theory of the “Antique Chain and its links”, and what one has to pay for something depends mostly on what “link of the chain” you come in on; or . “WHAT YOU BOUGHT, IS WHERE YOU WERE, WHEN!”
In the case above, the original dealer had to buy the piece at say ‘1/2$s’, at an auction perhaps to have it for sale at ‘1xs.’ Perhaps the person that put it into the auction bought it for ‘1/4$s?’
Being a new collector and dealing with beer steins this finding and recognizing “the chain links ” are mostly hard to recognize. That’s because of a lot of reasons. Two of which are:  a lot of steins are now sold from one SCI member directly to another SCI member, either at local Chapter meetings, mini conventions, or stein table sales at the SCI conventions.  Some of the dealers (and part time SCI dealers) have friends or families in Europe and buy the steins at the large flea markets and sales and then send them over here for the “wealthy Americans” to buy. It is impossible to tell where some steins came from and at what original purchase price = ‘1$s’, or “the first link.”
Then there are the eBay beer stein sales (a recent one is what prompted me to write this little discourse.) There are lots of ‘eyes’ out there on eBay and those eyes might have more resident knowledge about a specific type of stein than you do.
Case in point [A], [B], & [C] :
An eBay seller, Mr. X, whom I have dealt with for years now, listed a small (about a ½ liter) silver Estonian stein. I thought I might be interested in it (until I realized it was only a few years older than me! Ha, we can’t have that!) This seller has a family member in Europe who buys steins, etc, and ships them here to the USA, then Mr. X lists them, and so forth, and the profits are shared when the items are sold. Well in this case I think the start, or ‘1$s’, was different! It was actually another eBay sale.
[A] The original sale on eBay: The silver 1934 Estonian stein sold for $1500.00. This is now the ‘1$s.’ link on a “new chain.” (I am assuming that Mr. X bought it for that amount but perhaps he bought it later from someone else, which would make it yet, one more link. Only Mr. X knows.)
[B] My friend, Mr. X then listed it months later, and was asking a minimum of $2400.00. This is now the ‘2$s.’ link on the chain! It did not sell at the ad’s minimum price on eBay. I asked him months later if he still had it and he did not.
[C] So I could hardly believe it when about a year later I saw this same stein posted and for sale on eBay no less at a start price of $4500.00. This is now the ‘3$s’ link on the chain. It too did not sell on eBay! I wonder now, when I will see it next? Perhaps at an antique Russian silver shop in New York, or at the Great Baltimore Antique Show for sale, now at ‘4$s ?’
Second case in point, [D], [E]: I only realized this example existed while sorting out my silver file photos for the above pages. Interestingly enough, the examples are both about silver Estonian steins from the early 1900’s.
Now as only one side is shown on each and I can not compare the names engraved on the body, I can only assume it is the same stein; and I think it is. $311.00 for a silver stein, regardless of what year, was a give away – and some dealer (or me) should have grabbed it up!
All in all, most new stein collectors will most of the time find it takes a lot of effort to find out what link you are on before you buy a stein. I agree, it is a bit of trouble, but sometimes keeping all those back issues of stein auction catalogs and prices realized lists will assist you later. Also developing a computer log / file on what certain pieces (you like) sold for, is really a good idea, especially for all you “new guys.”
[END – SOK – RD – 05]
“There is great need on my computer for a sarcasm font!”