Scrapbookpages Blog

July 9, 2013

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe cooled his tea in a saucer

I was browsing through some other blogs, when I came across a blog about cups and saucers, which you can read here.  This quote, from the blog, caught my attention:  “As the tea cup developed, the saucer became smaller, now functioning as a cooling place…”

This reminded me of my grandmother, who had tea cups with deep saucers.  She used the saucer to cool her tea.  This was back in the 1930s.  My grandmother was not an aristocrat; sometimes she drank the tea right out of the saucer, which I am sure was a violation of proper manners.

Several years ago, when I visited Frankfurt am Main in Germany, and saw the former home of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which is now a Museum, I learned that cups with deep saucers date back to the 1700s.  Goethe was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1749.

TeaSet

In the photo above, a tea set and some porcelain figurines are displayed in a small breakfast alcove in the house where Goethe was born. Notice the deep saucers used with the tea cups. The original purpose of the saucer was for pouring the hot tea out of the cup, in order to cool it.

The house where Goethe was born has been restored and is now a Museum

The house on the left, where Goethe was born, has been restored and a Museum, shown in the center, has been added

Silhoutte of Goethe, as seen through the door of the Museum

Silhouette of Goethe, as seen through the door of the Museum

So what does this have to do with anything?  Goethe is virtually the only famous German who is still admired, in a world where hatred of the German people predominates because of The Holocaust.  Goethe is no Wagner:  it is O.K. to read his books, and visit the house where he was born.

Johannn Wolfgang von Goethe was Germany’s greatest writer and lyric poet. The house where he was born has been faithfully restored to the original, after it was destroyed in 1944 by Allied bombs during World War II. Right next to the house is the Goethe Museum which first opened in 1863.

Front door of the Goethe house

Front door of the Goethe house

When I visited the Goethe house in Frankfurt several years ago, one of the attendants in the Museum tried to teach me how to pronounce the name Goethe correctly.  I was saying it wrong.  There is a park in Sacramento, CA called Goethe Park, and Goethe is pronounced Gate-ee.  I was told that the name should be pronounced something like Gurd-tuh.

Porcelain stove in the Goethe house

Porcelain stove in the Goethe house

Houses in Germany and Austria still have porcelain covered stoves, like the one shown in the photo above.

Looks like a bridge table with chairs

Looks like a bridge table with chairs; pretty fancy for the 1700s

Oh sure, they had nice furniture and fancy tea cups with saucers, but take a look at the kitchen sink, shown in the photo below.

Kitchen sink in the Goethe house

Kitchen sink in the Goethe house

Goethe was born into a wealthy and cultured family, but in spite of his upper-class upbringing, he became a rebel and a liberal thinker. As he matured, he developed the idea that Man must make himself worthy of the universe in which he lives by striving endlessly to better himself. This is the central theme of Faust, considered to be Goethe’s greatest work.

Visitors to the Goethe House must first go through the Museum next door. An exit door from the Museum leads to a small courtyard and garden, shown in the photo below.

Garden at the Goethe house in Frankfurt

Garden exit at the Goethe house in Frankfurt

The courtyard garden, shown in the photo above, has two iron exit gates. The gate shown in the photo above leads into the kitchen courtyard. The kitchen door, which is shown in the photo below, is the tourist entrance into the Goethe House.

Entrance to the Goethe house, for tourists, is through the kitchen door

Entrance to the Goethe house, for tourists, is through the painted kitchen door which faces the garden exit gate

Garden gate at the Goethe house in Frankfurt

The second garden gate at the Goethe house in Frankfurt

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was one of the leading Germany writers of the Sturm und Drang movement (Storm and Stress). This movement was a literary and political war against established authority. The movement stressed the rights of the individual, which was a radical idea in its day, and was based on the teachings of Jean-Jaques Rousseau. The Sorrows of Young Werther was an early novel written by Goethe in the radical days of his youth.

As a lyric poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has no equal among German writers. One of the greatest poems in the Germany language is Goethe’s Herman and Dorothea, which tells the story of the love of an inn-keeper’s son for a poor refuge girl.