I found a beautiful German antique apothecary glass jar that has a rhyme on it, written in what appears to be an old form of German. Can anyone translate it for me:

Do ho ich müß'n sechs Pfoff'n mol'n, mög sie olle d'r Teif'l hol'n.

There are hand-painted pictures of an oldish looking fellow with a large nose and wearing glasses, a strange long narrow hat and robe, carrying some sort of cane and holding a piece of paper in front of a snake wrapped around an apple tree. I would really appreciate any help you can give me with this.

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1 Answer 1


The inscription reads:

Do ho ich müß'n sechs Pfoff'n mol'n mög sie olle d'r Teif'l hol'n

We have a dialect transcription which in proper German reads as:

Da habe ich sechs Pfaffen malen müssen, möge sie alle der Teufel holen.

An English translation would then be:

So I had to draw six shavelings - shall the devil take them all.

  • Könnte hinkommen. Mein Versuch war ziemlich ähnlich.
    – PMF
    Dec 30, 2013 at 13:06
  • 1
    Good catch, the ß.
    – Carsten S
    Dec 30, 2013 at 13:18
  • 2
    @PiedPiper: thank you for the edit of the images to the question, great work. But with all respect I disagree here. Parson is not really better. A parson is a proper term for a usually protestant clergyman but Pfaffen is a derogatory term for a catholic priest. This would also hold true for a shaveling (sb. with a shaved head) but it may be a more British term.
    – Takkat
    Feb 15, 2019 at 22:41
  • Could you add, just for the record, which dialect it probably is?
    – Philipp
    Feb 20, 2019 at 15:59
  • @Philipp: unfortunately not - all I can say is that it is a dialect I am unfamiliar with... Frankonian?
    – Takkat
    Feb 20, 2019 at 19:31

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