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“The Boys With the Grapes.” What is That All About?

A 14.2 in. ht., clear blown and engraved glass Pokal, Silesian, circa 1730.  AFG!!   [Photo comp of ‘New England Glass Auction,’ 6-13]

Perhaps you collectors have seen scenes on steins and other drinking vessels with two children carrying a very large cluster of grapes and wondered what is going on in that picture? Here’s the answer:

A .5 liter enameled glass. Unknown maker or decorator’s shop. German, Circa 1885.

A grouping of individual (versus commercial) small salt glazed wine jugs, made by “Wick-werke.” Two quarter liters and one each, half liter and liter. Circa 1930-50.

Below is one biblical reference to the occasion that spawned these scenes:

At last they came to a place just on the border between the desert and Canaan, called Kadesh, or Kadesh-barnea. Here they stopped to rest, for there were many springs of water and some grass for their cattle. While they were waiting at Kadesh-barnea, and were expecting soon to march into the land which was to be their home, God told Moses to send onward some men who should walk through the land, and look at it, and then come back and tell what they had found; what kind of a land it was, and what fruits and crops grew in it, and what people were living in it. The Israelites could more easily win the land, if these men after walking through it could act as their guides, and point out the best places in it and the best plans of making war upon it. There was need of wise and bold men for such a work as this, for it was full of danger.

So Moses chose out some men of high rank among the people, one ruler from each tribe, twelve men in all. One of these was Joshua, who was the helper of Moses in caring for the people, and another was Caleb, who belonged to the tribe of Judah. These twelve men went out, and walked over the mountains of Canaan, and looked at the cities, and saw the fields. In one place, just before they came back to the camp, they cut down a cluster of ripe grapes [162] which was so large that two men carried it between them, hanging from a staff. They named the place where they found this bunch of grapes Eshcol, a word which means “a cluster.” These twelve men were called “spies,” because they went “to spy out the land.”
“TWO SPIES AND THE GRAPES” –  Shows the two Jewish men: Joshua and Caleb, carrying the grapes back from the “Promised land.”
After forty days they came back to the camp; and this was what they said:  “We walked all over the land, and found it a rich land. There is grass for all our flocks and fields where we can raise grain, and trees bearing fruits, and streams running down the sides of the hills. But we found that the people who live there are very strong, and are men of war. They have cities with walls that reach almost up to the sky; and some of the men are giants, so tall that we felt that we were like grasshoppers beside them.”
One of the spies, who was Caleb, said, “All that is true, yet we need not be afraid to go up and take the land. It is a good land, well worth fighting for. God is on our side, and he will help us to overcome those people.”
But all the other spies, except Joshua, said, “No; there is no use in trying to make war upon such strong people. We can never take those walled cities, and we dare not fight those tall giants.”
Small,  1/4 liter,  salt-glazed stoneware personal wine pitcher, Circa 1870’s
German pewter plate showing the scene. Circa 1920’s.
Brass , bronze finish. Wine cup 4.75 inches new from Israel .

On this set the two boys carrying the grapes are only on the one liter pitcher. The smaller one still has the boys but are on the sides holding the grape cluster. Notice the visual reference to the “Fox and the grapes” fairy tale on the bottom.

It wasn’t long before the commercial side picked up on these little guys. Here below are a few  quarter liter examples of an individual sized wine pitcher from “The Bremer Ratskeller.” They sold these = great advertising  back then,  but of course very many “walked” out the door. The grapes and leaves design seen on the bottom of the Wick-Werke examples with the two thieves (above) is carried out around the sides of these.

Two versions of essentially the same pitcher but by different makers / or a different time [?] Showing “Baby Bacchus” sitting on a large wine barrel with the City of Bremen’s Coat of Arms on it. I am assuming there was a real barrel

Same as above photo (right), only finished in green, and another with the full arms of the City of Bremen, with the reversed wording: “Ratskeller Bremen.”

Another set showing a young Bacchus sitting on a barrel.

Below ▼: A very interesting variant was listed in a US stein auction years ago. See middle jug = a Nazi one. I have never ever seen another one listed or in person. The irony behind  the original scenes and this one pitcher, just makes me laugh and wonder how it ever came to be?!


Below: Some of the “newer” wine jugs available that use essential the same body style as the earlier “Two Boys” jugs.

Unknown maker.

Quarter  liter,  newer version by Wick-werke. Cica 1960-1990.

Made by “Original “King’ this jug stands 7.8 inches tall = one liter of wine.  Circa 1970-2000.

One of the Thewalt’s versions – a one liter. The “two boys” meaning is lost in this new context and the grape vine cluster is a bit overpowering.  Circa 1970-2000.

Two one liters, modern. Circa 1970-2000.


The two jugs on the right (and top right one above) have POG center scenes advertising various towns that are known for their wines.

Some much older personal wine jug versions are shown below ▼:

Westerwald or Regensburg, Circa 1870-85. Notice on the left one, the “finger hooks” on the handles, an age giveaway.
Another similar Westerwald/ Regensburg, same age. .25 Liter  


Most probably from Regensburg. Circa 1890.

A character wine jug, large table size, from Hungary. About one liter. Circa 1950- 1980. They made much older versions of these; I just do not have a photo (yet!)

BELOW ▼: Some “Wine Steins”  – or beer steins that celebrate the drinking of wine.

A large, newer POG pottery stein, celebrating the wine growing regions along the Rhine river in Germany.

A very nicely done  German, one liter pottery relief, Circa 1890 with a scene showing dwarfs, not the two boys, carrying the large grape cluster, plus baskets of grapes on their shoulders.


Two examples of drinking wine shown on “incised” pottery beer steins. [L] Mari and Remy. {R] JW Remy.

A multitude of wine drinking  of  scenes are shown on “dwarf’ kinder mugs and steins.

See the tab:

And should you wish to acquire a “small”collection of these personal wine jugs (as I did), here are just some of what is available to you. You may wish to think twice before starting! Like rabbits, they multiply at night when the lights are out!



For those that are interested, the cabinet is from Italy, late 1500’s (windows replaced).

[END -SOK — 49 – R5]

“Reality is only an illusion that occurs due to a lack of alcohol.”






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