Vintage Hand Carved  German Nutcracker - image 1 of 6

This hand carved German Nutcracker gnome is not just for Christmas! This adorable piece of folk art is a working nutcracker. The naive quality of the carving is what gives this little fellow his charm. This substantial nutcracker is crafted in hardwood, dons a red cap with green trim and stands very nearly 10" tall by 3" wide.

It is said that these nutcrackers are known to scare off evil spirits. He looks like he can do the job! He comes to us from our dear German client who brought her collection with her when she moved to the US many years ago. She absolutely loves hand carved Black Forest objects and only downsizing would cause her to let go of her collection. But her downsizing gives you the chance to own an authentic piece of German Folk Art and pass it to the next generation of collectors!


...During the Victorian era, fruit and nuts were presented at dinner and ornate and often silver-plated nutcrackers were produced to accompany them on the dinner table.[1] Nuts have long been a popular choice for desserts, particularly throughout Europe. The nutcrackers were placed on dining tables to serve as a fun and entertaining center of conversation while diners awaited their final course. At one time, nutcrackers were actually made of metals such as brass, and it was not until the 1800s in Germany that the popularity of wooden ones began to spread.[4]

The late 19th century saw two shifts in nutcracker production: the rise in figurative and decorative designs, particularly from the Alps where they were sold as souvenirs, and a switch to industrial manufacture, including availability in mail-order catalogues, rather than artisan production.[1] After the 1960s, the availability of pre-shelled nuts led to a decline in ownership of nutcrackers and a fall in the tradition of nuts being put in children's Christmas stockings.[1]

...Nutcrackers in the form of wood carvings of a soldier, knight, king, or other profession have existed since at least the 15th century. Figurative nutcrackers are a good luck symbol in Germany, and a folktale recounts that a puppet-maker won a nutcracking challenge by creating a doll with a mouth for a lever to crack the nuts.[3] These nutcrackers portray a person with a large mouth which the operator opens by lifting a lever in the back of the figurine. Originally one could insert a nut in the big-toothed mouth, press down and thereby crack the nut. Modern nutcrackers in this style serve mostly for decoration, mainly at Christmas time, a season of which they have long been a traditional symbol.[11] Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker, based on a story by E. T. A. Hoffmann, derives its name from this festive holiday decoration.

The carving of nutcrackers— as well as of religious figures and of cribs— developed as a cottage industry in forested rural areas of Germany. The most famous nutcracker carvings come from Sonneberg in Thuringia (also a center of dollmaking) and as part of the industry of wooden toymaking in the Ore Mountains. Wood-carving usually provided the only income for the people living there. Today the travel industry supplements their income by bringing visitors to the remote areas. Carvings by famous names like Junghanel, Klaus Mertens, Karl, Olaf Kolbe, Petersen, Christian Ulbricht and especially the Steinbach nutcrackers have become collectors' items.

Decorative nutcrackers became popular in the United States after the Second World War, following the first US production of The Nutcracker ballet in 1940 and the exposure of US soldiers to the dolls during the war.[12] In the United States, few of the decorative nutcrackers are now functional, though expensive working designs are still available.[12] Many of the woodworkers in Germany were in Erzgebirge, in the Soviet zone after the end of the war, and they mass-produced poorly-made designs for the US market. With the increase in pre-shelled nuts, the need for functionality was also lessened. After the 1980s, Chinese and Taiwanese imports that copied the traditional German designs took over.[3][12] The recreated "Bavarian village" of Leavenworth, Washington, features a nutcracker museum. Many other materials also serve to make decorated nutcrackers, such as porcelain, silver, and brass; the museum displays samples. The United States Postal Service (USPS) issued four stamps in October 2008 with custom-made nutcrackers made by Richmond, Virginia artist Glenn Crider.[13]

According to Ireland Bedinghaus, 3/09/19:

Steinbach Nutcrackers

Originating as a cottage industry in the rural areas of Germany, the carving of nutcrackers has become widespread. The most popular and famous nutcracker carvings come from Sonneberg in Thuringia and form the Ore Mountains. The most famous carvings came from Herr Christian Steinbach. He is also known as the “King of Nutcrackers,” as he started the tradition of handcrafting and carving nutcrackers. The Steinbach name is recognized throughout the world for the unique design of the wood-carved Steinbach creations. The unique tradition of handcrafting nutcrackers is continued by Herr Steinbach’s daughter Karla Steinbach and granddaughter Karolin Steinbach. Karla Steinbach, Vice President of Operations, is the 6th generation to lead the company.

Good Luck Symbols

According to German folklore, nutcrackers bring good luck to your family and protect your home. A nutcracker is said to represent power and strength, serving somewhat like a watchdog guarding your family against danger. A nutcracker bares its teeth to evil spirits and serves as a messenger of good luck and goodwill. Long ago, rare or unusual nutcrackers were part of the social dining tradition. Serving as whimsical conversation pieces, guests lingered at the table enjoying shelled treats such as pecans and hazelnuts.

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Folk Art


Vintage Hand Carved German Nutcracker

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