This Is Why I Don’t Try To Steal His Beer

From today’s Washington Post:

Something wasn’t quite right about the pewter flagon on the auction block in front of Donald Herr.

The antiques expert knew it was authentic, and the “1762” marking in front attested to its age. But something about the pitcher’s feet — tiny cherubs’ heads — jogged Herr’s memory.

Normally, the flagon would have two feet in front and one in back to make the container easier to tilt forward for pouring Communion wine into goblets. But this flagon was different: It had one foot in front and two in back.

Just like a flagon that was stolen from the Historical Society of Frederick County 30 years earlier.

Herr rushed home to look at pictures of the stolen decanter. He had collected the images long ago while writing a book about pewter church antiques, and he found that the two flagons were identical, down to the dents and the initials of its creator, Johann Christoph Heyne, an 18th-century German craftsman in Lancaster, Pa.

Donald Herr is my father-in-law.

The Post article leaves out most of the story, but he went to some pretty remarkable lengths to make sure that nobody unknowingly bought a stolen item, and that the decanter got back to its rightful owners. Due to staff turnover, nobody at the historical society even remembered that it had been stolen. Neat stuff.

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9 Responses to “This Is Why I Don’t Try To Steal His Beer”

  1. Scott Wickstein Says:

    Well, after stealing his daughter’s heart, it would be most ungentlemanly of you to steal his beer as well.

  2. caltechgirl Says:

    cool! Nice job on his part!

  3. sulizano Says:

    Will, you folks getting any weather over there?

    It’s kickin’ up like crazy here.

    Suli (Huntsville AL)

  4. Will Collier Says:

    Just a little rain this morning, Suli. I heard north Alabama got a few tornadoes, but it’s been pretty quiet this far east.

  5. Slartibartfast Says:

    Hmmm…Herr…Pennsylvania…does your wife have any relatives that live in Orlando? I know a Jeff Herr.

  6. John Says:

    Interesting piece; I live in Frederick County. Did the piece originally belong to a local church?

  7. jmaster Says:

    Now I know this sounds corny, but is your father in law THE Donald Herr? The author of this book?

    http://www.tarmans.com/si/000038.html

    I

  8. Will Collier Says:

    Questions, I get questions:

    jmaster, he is indeed “the” Donald Herr, or at least the one who wrote that book, and probably the only person in the world who could have instantly identified the stolen flagon.

    Slartibartfast, I don’t believe Beth has any close relatives in Orlando, but if he’s originally from PA, Herrs are as common in Lancaster County as Chins in China (okay, perhaps a bit less common than that), so it’s possible It’s a BIG family.

    John, yes, the piece originally came from a Frederick County church, if my memory serves.

  9. jmaster Says:

    Cool. What a small world.

    Not to turn this into the Pewter Pundit blog or anything, but maybe you could pass along to him another theory on the reversed feet.

    Instead of being a mistake built on a bad day, maybe the

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