Not too long ago I found an interesting enamelware desk set at a yard sale. A tray and a letter opener. The tray is an off-white with black and gold gilt zebra stripe bands with a red paint droppings on a brown speckled metal back design. The letter opener has the same design on the handle. On the tray’s back is a sticker that said Steinböck-Email Handmade in Austria.
The letter opener is stamped near the handle with Austria on one side and Steinböck on the other. Before this purchase I rarely paid attention
Before this purchase, I rarely paid attention to enamelware goods. Enamelwares are often pricey, and while the colors are beautiful, I have mostly seen worn or damaged pieces at thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales. With this desk set something inside of me said it was special and for only a $1 it was worth the risk.
Like usual after a long day of yard sale hunting, I always have a few items I am very interested in searching and finding more information on. On this day was this desk set and information was difficult to find. I found random Pinterest pins with other Steinböck enamelware, some eBay and Etsy listings, and a few obscure forum or blog mentions.
It was not until I came across MissBarginHuntress blog with her post, Steinbock: Update from a Steinbock Family Member & More Information on Arta, Brimmer & Frey Wille, that I was able to find a lot more information on what I had.
Email Studio Steinböck History
From MissBarginHuntress blog I learned that Email Studio Steinböck was started by Vienna, Austria, Academy of Art students and brothers Hannes (John) and Haimo Steinböck. Both from Carinthia, the southernmost Austrian state. They began producing something that had not been seen before with their enamelware. Items they produced included trays, vases, jewelry, trinket boxes, platters, plates, and many other colorful pieces.
The studio became world famous and was supposedly a secret tip in many tourist guides. Some of Vienna’s famous artists such as Ernst Fuchs and Hans Staudacher did some work at the studio and experimented with the material. Up until the 1980s, they had about 100 employees who hand painted the wares. Later this fell to about 20 family members who switched to handprint with hand-painting. They continued to still use metals, enamels, and 24 karat gold print and plating.
A former employee of Studio Steinböck was Michaela Frey who later founded Michaela Frey Emaillemanufaktur which later became the famous Frey Wille that continues to make fire enamel jewelry and accessories. The Arta and Brimmer enamelware also have ties to Studio Steinböck.
Eventually, the two brothers, Hannes and Haimo Steinböck, retired leaving their sons Micheal and Peter to run the studio. After two more years, the studio was sold. In 1993 the factory was closed ending the more than 45-year successful studio run.
Steinböck Pieces and Where to Find Them
Many pieces of the Steinböck brand still exist and can be found on several sites. On Etsy, there are almost always a handful of pages of beautifully crafted and colorful dishes, bowls, trays, and trinket dishes. As of this post, I am currently offering the desk set for sale on my own Esty shop page.
On eBay, a search for Steinbock email or Steinbock enamel will turn up several results. An example is this . Other items include trinket boxes, dishes, trays, platters, bowls, and many other fine things through my affiliate links below.
If you are interested in jewelry from Steinböck there are a few options on eBay as well.
In addition, pieces are bound to show up at thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, auctions, estate sales, and antique stores. As with any item, the price paid will be reflected by where you find the given enamelware. Antique shops, auctions, estate sales, and knowledgeable thrift stores will be at a higher premium. However, things like flea markets, yard sales, and everything must go estate sales are a great place to find enamelware at a discount.
Decorating & Fashion
With the various vintage Steinböck fashion accessories such as bracelets, pendants, rings, and earrings that are for sale on the market, you can create a classy and stylish statement. There are many abstract and artistic designs that have a 24 karat gold inlay as a part of the design that will match most outfits throughout the year.
For home decorating, there are many options with these artful and colorful pieces. For the larger dishes, bowls, and trays a unique decorative centerpiece for a table can be arranged using the Steinböck enamel as the centerpiece or point of focus. If your place of residence has a foyer a smaller enamelware dish would make a great place to put your keys or coins at the end of the day. Other pieces could be used to add color in the bed on nightstands or dressers with the trinket box enamelware. Fireplace mantels make a great location to display the various candle holders or larger colorful pieces to help add color to a room. With the intricate and abstract designs, these enamelware items can be conservation pieces for your guests.
Why is it called Email?
Being in the digital age this word seems out of place as it has nothing to do with electronic mail. Email Studio Steinböck was in Vienna, Austria. In Austria, they speak German along with several other languages. In German, the word email or emaille means enamel in English. So if fully translated to English it is Enamel Studio Steinböck.
Share your Steinböck Enamelwares
After diving into the colorful world of Steinböck enamelware I am looking forward to finding more pieces at yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets.