Cool find. It’s a works canteen bottle deposit token. Ebay sellers often claim it to be WWI era, but it isn’t. It dates from the 1950s. This from the TAMS Journal - October 1985, Volume 25 Number 5:
One of the first large industrial complexes to rise out of the ashes of a devastated post-WWII Germany was Hoechst Farbwerke of Frankfort am Main. Hoechst AG is now a multinational manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, paints, resins, plastics, dyes, and film, with subsidiaries on all continents; in 1984 its worldwide revenues rose to nearly $20.0 billion. But in 1945 it was a shattered concern housing the American military occupation forces, the headquarters of General Eisenhower and the 1G Farben Control Office, an organization that would begin reconstruction of Germany’s chemical industry in the “American Zone.” Not until December of 1951 did this giant of a chemical research firm get entirely back on its feet. When it did, however, Hoechst not only walked proudly back into the field of its specialty commerce, it outran German, and much of the world’s, competition.
A company that proud of its tradition and its workers could also be mindful of the more mundane, daily necessities in the plant’s ongoing work. Hoechst early in its productive life provided all employees with safe, clean working conditions and, especially needed for a paint and chemical factory, bath houses and company canteens:
“The hygiene-conscious works management was no less proud of its baths than it was of the canteen whose almost clinical cleanliness became a byword at Hoechst. The management was very strict about this canteen. They declared ‘Workers are not allowed, under threat of penalty, to bring food or drink into the factory. The factory has its own canteen. Food and drink are provided for all workers and will be eaten in a special dining room.’ The Hoechst works canteen was administered entirely by the workers themselves.” (A Century of Chemistry: Hoechst AG; Dusseldorf, Germany, 1968, ppgs. 255-256.)”
From that traditional company “kantine” came a 23mm, brass, bottle check, or “Flaschen-Marke,” its reclining lion image holding a shield scripted with the “MLB” initials of Meister, Lucius and Bruning. (See fig. 2.) It is typical of “factory pieces” and worked much like token coinage in mints or prisons or other limited circulation circumstances. The Hoechst worker drank his beer or milk or schnapes, brought back his bottle, and received his token so that he might later use it for another bottle of his favorite beverage. It had no value other than the proof of a returned bottle. The token, issued sometime after 1951 when the American Military Government reorganized the firm, appears fairly frequently in trade and price lists. The company’s name was changed from “Hoechst Dye Works” to Hoechst AG (or Inc.) in 1974, when it entered the conglomerate, world-corporation scene.