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Collecting Toy Soldier Nutcrackers

Collecting Toy Soldier Nutcrackers – Nutcrackers have been popular since the 19th century, with some seemingly enchanted creations gracing our shelves for generations. These unique wooden figures represent traditional German life, making them a timeless piece of home décor. Collecting these iconic carvings is both an art and a hobby; for many collectors, the breadth of designs refines their knowledge on different cultures and times. Traditional nutcrackers are valued by many from around the globe; it is said that giving them as holiday presents symbolize good luck and fortune in the coming years. We take a look at the History of the Nutcracker and in particular Toy Soldier Nutcrackers along with some various examples with their value.

Collection Of Toy Soldier Nutcrackers
Collection Of Toy Soldier Nutcrackers

The history of the nutcracker can be traced back to the early 1800s in the Sonneberg and Erzgebirge regions of Germany.

The first documented reference to a figural nutcracker dates back to the year 1802, when a German carpenter named Philipp Stulpnagel created a wooden figure of a soldier with a movable mouth. This particular nutcracker was designed to crack nuts by placing them in the figure’s mouth and then pressing down on its head. The nutcracker became popular among the upper class and soon spread to other parts of Europe.

A traditional 19th century Nutcracker
A traditional 19th century German painted wooden Nutcracker (Nussknacker). Sold for 2,700 Euros at Auktionshaus im Kinsky, December 2020

It is believed that the original nutcrackers were actually meant to represent different professions, such as kings, soldiers or farmers. However, over time, they became more associated with Christmas and began to take on festive designs. Today, nutcrackers are widely available in a variety of designs and styles. They remain popular Christmas decorations and are often given as gifts. Nutcrackers can be found in homes around the world, bringing holiday cheer to people of all ages.

The term “Nussknacker” first appeared in the dictionary of the Brothers Grim in 1830.

The term “Nussknacker” is derived from the German word “Nussknacker”, which literally means “nutcracker”. The first known use of the word was in the Brothers Grimm dictionary in 1830. The Nussknacker is a traditional German Christmas decoration, typically made of wood and featuring a figure of a man with a large mouth who holds a small hammer. The figure is designed to crack open nuts, which were once a staple food during the winter months. Today, the Nussknacker is chiefly considered a decorative item and is often used as a holiday table centerpiece. It is also popular as a children’s toy, as the act of cracking open the nut can be quite entertaining for youngsters.

Despite its charming appearance, the Nussknacker has a dark history that is steeped in legend and folklore. One popular story tells of a young girl who received a Nussknacker as a gift from a mysterious stranger. Upon opening it, she found that it contained a curse that caused her to grow old and wither away before her time. While there are many different interpretations of the Nussknacker story, one thing is certain: this unique Christmas decoration has been delighting and frightening people for centuries!

In 1872, Wilhelm Fuchtner made the first commercial production of nutcrackers using the lathe to create many of the same design.

In 1872, Wilhelm Fuchtner made the first commercial production of nutcrackers using the lathe to create many of the same design. The design was thought to be based on an earlier story by Dr Heinrich Hoffmann, the author of the notorious Struwwelpeter. The originality and accuracy of these first wood carvings were so impressive that they caught the eye of King Friedrich August II of Saxony. The King was so pleased with the work of Wilhelm Fuchtner that he appointed him as the official court nutcracker maker. From then on, the small village of Seiffen in the Ore Mountains became world-famous for its handcrafted nutcrackers.

Nowadays, there are many different kinds of nutcrackers available on the market, but the traditional style that was popularized by Wilhelm Fuchtner is still one of the most beloved. These nutcrackers are typically crafted from wood and painted in bright colors. They often feature whimsical designs, such as soldiers, kings, and animals.

Collecting Toy Soldier Nutcrackers

They really became popular in the US after World War II  when GIs stationed in Germany bought nutcracker soldiers in the Christmas markets as gifts for their families back home. The popularity of nutcrackers has only grown in recent years, thanks in part to their appearance in popular holiday movies like The Nutcracker and The Polar Express. Whether they’re used as decorations or given as gifts, nutcrackers are a cherished part of Christmas tradition for people all over the world.

David Linley a carved and painted wood nutcracker in the form of a soldier in a blue tunic
David Linley a carved and painted wood nutcracker in the form of a soldier in a blue tunic. Sold for £180 at Bigwood Fine Art Auctioneers, January 2022.

The Nutcracker Ballet

The Nutcracker Ballet is a beloved holiday classic full of beauty, magic and music. It tells the story of Clara, a young girl who dreams of a handsome prince in her living room on Christmas Eve — and gets much more than she bargained for. When hundreds of fantasy creatures appear to come alive, it sets off an adventure full of fairies, toy soldiers and two unlikely allies battling giant mice with swords and canons. Eventually, they defeat the evil Mouse King and all ends well with Clara being reunited with her beloved nutcracker transformed into a real prince. It’s truly a magical experience that will never be forgotten.

Nutcrackers remain a popular holiday decoration and symbol of Christmas cheer around the world.

The Christmas season would not be complete without the sight of beautifully decorated nutcrackers. These charming figurines have been a part of holiday tradition for centuries, and their popularity shows no signs of waning. As the years went by, nutcrackers evolved from being simple carvings to becoming more intricate and detailed works of art. They also became associated with Christmas trees and other holiday decorations.  Today, nutcrackers come in all shapes and sizes, from traditional German designs to fun and festive novelty items. Whether you’re looking for a classic wooden nutcracker or a festive new addition to your holiday decor, there’s sure to be a nutcracker that’s perfect for you.

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