History of German Nutcrackers- Get a Nutcracker for Your Home!
I love how the History of German Nutcrackers is tied up in a Fairy Tale….how perfectly German!
Once upon a time, a farmer offered a reward for anyone who could help him easily open the Walnuts from his tree. A Carpenter said he should saw them open. A Soldier told him he should SHOOT the nuts (I can’t imagine what he thought would be left of the nut…). Finally, a puppet maker brought him a brightly painted wooden doll with a strong jaw designed to crack the nuts. The Farmer was delighted! And rewarded the puppet maker with his own workshop.
And a cottage industry was born.
History of German Nutcrackers
German Nutcrackers in the shape of Soldiers or Kings have been in use since the 15th century! The unsmiling figures are thought to be lucky, and provide protection for the household as they stand sentry on the mantle. The most famous Nutcrackers come out of Sonneberg in Thuringia, and from the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains). The Erzgebirge originally made money from mining… but as the mines played out, miners used their wood-working skills to create toys and Christmas figurines that were sold at Christmas Markets around Germany. A “good” Nutcracker could be made from up to 130 carefully assembled pieces! Originally, the jaws were strong enough to crack walnuts. Today’s Nutcrackers are more decorative, only good for peanuts. (And if the Nutcracker belongs to my mother… you better not DARE put any nuts in its mouth!)
Nutcrackers are still assembled by hand in Seiffen
The Steinbach family was instrumental in spreading the popularity of Nutcrackers. In the beginning, most looked fairly similar… soldier, knight, king. Herr Steinbach decided to create Nutcrackers based on German Folklore or famous leaders from around the world. Then came the brilliant idea of “limited edition” Nutcrackers…. the first was King Ludwig II, and only 3000 were made. This marketing plan of scarcity made collectors mad for acquiring these special pieces.
Nutcracker collecting became a huge hobby for many who appreciated the hand carved and hand painted Nutcrackers. In the 1950s, the hobby spread beyond Germany.
Nutcrackers in America
Today, Nutcrackers are a common Christmas decoration here in the US, but how did that happen? In the 1950s Soldiers stationed in Germany started visiting the Christmas Markets. They were captivated by these brightly painted wood “Soldier” Nutcrackers, and brought them home. Right around then Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker Suite was becoming a popular Christmas Event, and so demand for Nutcrackers skyrocketed! Sadly, the increased demand means the market is flooded with cheap knock-offs from China… and the Steinbach family company, after over 250 years of creating hand-crafted works of art, declared bankruptcy and shut its doors for good in 2016. They have since re-opened!
Today Nutcrackers come in a wide range of styles… from the classic Red Soldier to a Camouflage Soldier... from King Ludwig II to Green Bay Football Nutcrackers. Whatever you choose, you can be sure that this little work of art will give you much enjoyment as it watches over your family during the holidays.
Clever Creations Classic Chubby German Nutcracker Wearing Lederhosen & Holding a Mug – Festive Collectible Decor – Perfect for Shelves and Tables – 100% Wood – 10 inches TallGerman Christmas Nutcracker King red – 27,5 cm / 11 inches – Authentic German Erzgebirge Nutcrackers – Christian Ulbricht
Where to Buy German Nutcrackers
Steinbach Nutcrackers come in a range of styles… from the tall slim to the shorter rounded “troll” style
Christian Ulbricht Nutcrackers
In 1928, Christian Ulbricht’s father Otto founded the Ulbricht‘s Workshop for Fine Wooden Crafts and Toys in the small town Seiffen, in the heart of the Ore Mountains. Although the family moved to the west after the War, in 1990, his son Christian Ulbricht brought the company back to its original home in the Erzgebirge. Today, “the family and their team create traditional wooden art that brings joy to grown-ups and children alike. And in every single piece the spirit of Christmas is alive.”
Kurt Adler Nutcrackers
The Kurt Adler company has been exporting German Christmas decorations to America for over 70 years. In the 1980’s, they introduced Nutcrackers to their line of goods… and added a twist! They sell “classic” Nutcrackers, as well as re-invented Nutcrackers like “Wizard Nutcracker” and “the Wine Grower Nutcracker.”
There are lots of beautiful Vintage Nutcrackers looking for a home
Vintage German Democratic Republic NutcrackerVintage Steinbach Volkskunst Germany Nutcracker Toy Soldier in Wooden BoxNutcracker – Made in Germany – Erzgebirge Nutcracker – Chimney Sweep NutcrackerVintage German Erzgebirge Nutcracker 14″, Natural Wood Nutcracker, Large Nutcracker, Carved Wood Soldier, Christmas Decor, Made in GermanyOriginal Steinbach Santa Nutcracker Germany 12″ Holding Sack of Toys