beaker with a portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm and the outline of the battleship, Wilhelmshaven, Germany, around 1900, pewter.
In the summer of 1900, during a period when the greater part of China was dominated by Western imperialism, the German kaiser dispatched a flotilla of battleships to suppress a Chinese uprising (the “Boxer Rebellion”) against the Western occupiers. At the send-off for this expedition, in the port of Bremerhaven, Kaiser Wilhelm II gave his notorious “Hun speech,” in which he called upon his troops to take no prisoners.
On board the battleship was an “Oberbottelier” (the chief steward petty officer, also responsible for the ship’s finer beverages). The pewter beakers were presented to him as souvenirs of that expedition (pewter tarnishes heavily, thus only with effort and imagination can you make out the likeness of Kaiser Wilhelm and the outline of the battleship).