Embossed metal picture

karinlNovember 8, 2009

This is an odd thing I found in an antique/stuff store today. It looks old... anyone have any idea when this might date from? Or what kind of metal it is? It is quite heavy.

What really baffles me though is that it has a small shaft sticking out of it (my close-up photo didn't turn out but I can post one if needed - it's directly up from the big sailboat in the sky) on which something was obviously originally threaded. What on earth might this have originally been? I thought of a clock, but it has no numbers and the shaft isn't centred. Or a music box? I suppose if I take off the back (leather, nailed on) I might find out, but I'm a bit reluctant to disturb it. (Actually, looking at the picture... the shaft is below what is just a disassociated wing alongside two full birds, so it might have been a mechanical or at least 3D bird).

The only thing I do know is that the caption is in German (AUF REISEN) and it means "on travels" or "on vacation." depending on how you translate. Other than that, I'd appreciate some help!


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have an embossed copper pic but it is nothing like yours. Is there a knob anywhere else to turn the missing bird on or maybe you just did something to the bird & it started to fly??? Heavy so pewter or pot metal or a Britannia type metal which is a mix. Doubt it would be silver. Can't tell from pic. can't be too old as has a train in it,can't tell if steam engine, no sign of steam so probably not. Maybe this was novelty item like TV lamps make like ships, moving water pics etc. I have a lot of antique books & don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Do you know what a saying I have on a little stein is??Dann spiel und Iach---C rest mach dein Sach The C has a F inside of it.spent 6 hours looking at German steins 1 night & finally found out words can change meaning by way you say them. I had 1 yr of German but don't remember many words any more. Oh, with leather on back of yours sounds like there is a clockworks type thing in back that probably has gears(like a watch) to make the bird "fly" might tell you more but if the leather is not in good shape could crumble if you mess with it. Hope someone has some answers for you!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 1:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


When you turn the shaft, what happens? Your idea of music box and articulating bird seems reasonable, I searched and couldn't find anything like it. There's probably a term for this kind of thing. Seems like there are a lot of souvenir German music boxes.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help, but it is an interesting find. I like it just from the decorative appeal, which is why you bought it I'd guess. I love things with character (and a little mystery, too). It will be a conversation starter for sure.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 11:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks so much to you both for trying to help. Sunny, you made me laugh at myself, because until your remark about the train it never dawned on me to use the actual image to assess the date. It is clearly a steam train, and a train buff could probably date it, but the sailboats may be a bit more modern - I have no idea how long they've looked like this. And Jill, yes I bought it because it appealed to me to actually hang up, and it wasn't expensive, though I'm guessing it is an earlier era's version of the black velvet painting :-) Well it's providing me with some fun doing the sleuthing anyway.

I spun around ebay for a bit looking for similar items and "3D metal" finally netted me some almost identical items with very different images; a pair of pictures of Jesus and Mary made in Chicago in about 1900, and what really struck me was that they were in almost identical frames to mine. Those, however, had a very worn paper backing and a wire hanger similar to the one on the sampler being shown just now in another thread. Mine has a more modern triangular hanger (appears factory installed), and my backing is maybe not leather but a fake leather of some sort.

I also found the term "stamped metal" on ebay, as in "stamped metal buttons" (those are really cool, like my picture in miniature) and that led me to some Russian cigarette cases from the 1960s, with stamped metal designs including one showing the Sputniks! So clearly this "art form" crosses a fair chunk of time. But it must be hand crafted at some level even in the 1960s; how else besides a carving that the metal is hammered/stamped/molded over would you make something like this?

I'll get the backing off sometime and post what I find inside. I'm guessing that you spun the actual bird, and then it either flew or played music. At the moment the shaft spins freely.

Sunny, regarding your beer stein, it is probably written in old German script, as shown in the link below. That may make it easier to decipher. If you can read the words, I can translate for you, or if you prefer, take a picture of the words - I can read the script with some difficulty, but my parents can if I can't.

Thanks again,


Here is a link that might be useful: old German script

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 2:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

All I can say is....you have the first piece of a collection!!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 11:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A collection of one then...!

Sunny, I have been thinking about the inscription on your stein. I couldn't make sense of what you said about the strange letter, but now I think I have it; You had a couple of spelling differences that threw me off.

I think the right transcription might be "Dann spiel und Lach, Erst mach Dein Sach," meaning is something like "Then play and laugh, First do you your thing."

What confuses me is that it sounds like the clauses are in the opposite order that would make sense, but there may be some colloquial interpretation that I'm missing. I'll ask my parents when I next see them.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 2:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Looks like a steam engine to me!! Couldn't see it before! My 5 1/2 in stein is topped with metal top that hooks around a ceramic handle. It is cobalt blue where sky is &says Gruss aus Heildelberg & shows a large building or maybe area of the town.Green,cream & that German caramel color are on that area & around bottom is the caramel on 1 side of handle in Fraktur script is Dann spiel und Iach (the 1st letter of that word looks like a capitol I with the 2 top & bottom parts of letter tipped toward the left,I didn't see that on the script page) 4 words on right side of handle say Crst mach dein Sach. Other stein is same height & has lithophane in bottom of it when you hold up to light of little girl feeding ducks (I discovered that when I washed it)Outside is white with decal of dwarfs with ducks, almost didn't get it but the 2 daughters said their mom had visited Germany some years before. I asked how much& they said $1 each. I knew it was an estate sale as it was all women's things & they kept saying "mom got that when"I figured the steins were made for tourist trade as most on stein site I went to were 1/2 liter or larger. I've had them for at least 8 yrs. Seems like they said mom went to Germany in 70's. I usually put whatever I know about them with the item. Would love to know what the 1 says. Thanks! I can't post a pic until my DD gets here & gets my pics so I can get to them. She can find them, I can't. Sorry!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 2:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Embossing copper into pictures had a long history: starts in the Arts and Crafts movement era and dies out in the mid 1950s.

I have one piece, magnolia blossoms with a hammered background done by my great-uncle during the Depression.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 8:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sunny, even without a photo, I'm positive your beer stein message is "First do your work, then play and laugh". It must be meant to read that way, not the way you've transcribed it, because it just doesn't make sense otherwise. The word you've transcribed as "Crst" has to be "Erst" (First), and the last word of the other clause has to be a small L because there is no other word like that that makes sense.

Hope that helps...

and thanks, Lazy Gardens, for that additional information.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 2:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Karin, Thanks so much for the info. That sounds like it would be right! As a tourist the lady had done her work & the trip was her reward so the stein would be very fitting to have a saying like that. I put a paper in it with your translation on it. Glad to have that solved! The lady had a lovely house in the area of San Fernando I love to go to as all the houses are beautiful & yards are perfect. I always drive down there & go through slowly at xmas as it's so pretty with all the nice decorations in the yards,but not overdone! Jan

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 12:37AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Are garage sales a thing of the past?
Years ago when my mom and I had garage sales, our yard...
camelback sofa
Hello there - could anyone help me to identify the...
Help Glassware/Stemware Experts
Please help....do any glassware experts out there know...
Antimassacars and tablecloth
I found a cache of embroidered and lace furniture accessories...
Not sure what it is
Would like to restore this piece. Not sure of the age...
Sponsored Products
Juno 6101 6" Beveled Frame with Frosted Dome Lens Trim
LBC Lighting
Ambiance Small Ambis Sconce
$149.40 | Bellacor
Area Rug: Fun Time Primary Hopscotch Multi Colored 19" x 29"
$11.97 | Home Depot
Merrick Picture Light
Frame Mirror - 18 inch - Fferrone Design
$2,032.00 | HORNE
Vibe Direct Wire Picture Light by WAC Lighting
$229.00 | Lumens
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™