With an upsurge of nationalism, pride in the success of the Franco-Prussian War, and a young, popular EmperoróKaiser Wilhelm IIóGermany began an expansion of its military system in 1888.
Military service was obligatory for men 17 to 45 years old, the primary exceptions being criminals or others without civil rights. The tour of active duty was three years for cavalry and navy and two years for the other services, with the exception of one year for certain professionals or volunteers. Upon completion of their active duty, these men became reservists. It was the reservists, and not the career soldiers, who ordered souvenirs such as steins, pipes, flasks, beakers, cups, and swords.
All reservists reported to their units in October and all graduated with the same class in September. The cost of Regimental beer steins, deducted automatically from wages, was very high, generally about two or three times the cost of a Mettlach stein. But the men had great pride in their class and unit; some cases have been recorded in which all the reservists in a given company ordered steins.
There were several branches of the Army: infantry, cavalry, artillery, Pionier (engineering), Jager (hunter or rifleman), and the military train. There were also technical service units such as railway (Eisenbahn), telegraph, aviation, and airship (Luftschiffer). Volunteers from all of these units were provided to the colonial troops (Schutztruppen). The Navy was separate from the Army but had all the same types of souvenirs.
Regimental steins are usually made of porcelain.