Steinbach Nutcrackers - made in Erzgebirge Germany
The following text gives you some information about the Steinbach nutcrackers, the Steinbach company and the Steinbach family.
The Steinbach family originally comes from Austria. The history of the Steinbach's dates back to the 13th century. Some of the family members were successful architects, judges and merchants. One family member has even become famous. Erwin V. Steinbach was a very successful architect in the 13th century and has built the large cathedral in Strasbourg called the Münster which probably was the first piece of art by a Steinbach - long before the first Steinbach nutcrackers was crafted. But like many others the Steinbach family faced huge problems during medieval. They had to fight hard just to stay alive. Their life was threatened more than once because of permanent wars and religious persecutions until they decided to move somewhere else and chose the German Erzgebirge.
The Erzgebirge is a mountain range in the eastern part of Germany. Translated into English Erzgebirge means Ore Mountains. Today it is part of the German state Saxonia a region that was part of the German Democratic Republic until the fall of the Berlin wall 1989. The Erzgebirge is about 90 miles long and 30 miles wide. Its rough climate is influenced strongly by the cold Russian winds that blow from the east. The wonderful country side, many castles and much snow in winter have made it a popular German holiday region. The culture and traditions go all the way back to the first settlers of the 13th century. The region has become very wealthy during the 16th to 18th century because of rich deposits of silver and tin. The mining industry also is the source of all the wonderful wooden items that the German Erzgebirge is world famous for - and of course the Steinbach nutcrackers. The miners enjoyed wood carving during their spare time. When the mining industry broke down in the late 18th century many started their own wood carving workshops and handcrafted items for a living. All the wonderful nutcrackers, Christmas pyramids, candle Arches and smoker men have originated from these traditional roots.
The complete name of the Steinbach company is Steinbach GmbH - Vereinigte Werkstaetten Deutscher Volkskunst. It has two production plants that produce the wonderful Steinbach nutcrackers. The older plant is located in Hohenhameln, a little town in northern Germany. Originally the Steinbach company comes from the Erzgebirge but left the region because it was under Soviet control after WW2. Right after the end of Communism in Europe Christian Steinbach had built his second factory in Marienberg. Marienberg is a small town in the heart of the Erzgebirge.
For almost 200 years the Steinbach family has been producing beautiful nutcrackers, other wooden items and collectibles. Nowadays besides the nutcrackers Steinbach crafts incense smokers, music boxes and ornaments. Herr Christian Steinbach who was in charge of the company for decades has passed away in February 2007. He has made the company one of the most successful Erzgebirge manufacturers and will never be forgotten by his business partners and enthusiast of Steinbach nutcrackers around the world. Now his daughter Karla is responsible for the Steinbach GmbH. She was the former Vice President and will be the 6th family generation that leads the Steinbach company.
The Steinbach Nutcrackers
A nutcracker is a device to crack open the shell of a nut to get to the delicious inside. The Greeks have invented nutcrackers for this purpose more than 2000 years ago. The decorative nutcrackers have appeared first in the 16th century in Europe. In middle of the 19th century an Erzgebirge craftsman named Fuechtner created the first Erzgebirge nutcracker. Some of the first nutcrackers can still be viewed in museums around the Erzgebirge and are always worth a visit. The looked close to the classical Erzgebirge nutcrackers that are still available today (policemen, kings and soldiers) and expressed some protest about the rulers or other state authorities. The work procedure of a modern Steinbach nutcracker is also close to the very first nutcrackers with sometimes over 100 work procedures until the nutcrackers are ready to be shipped around the world and sold in retail stores or Christmas fairs. The Erzgebirge nutcrackers became world famous when Tschaikowski's Nutcracker Ballet premiered in many countries from 1892 to 1950. Most people who think about a nutcracker think about the grim look and the big mouth of a typical Erzgebirge nutcracker.
What is so special about the Steinbach nutcrackers?
It is the quality, the design and the value of those wonderful items that make them unique. The large number of collectors gives evidence for that. Thousands of nutcrackers enthusiasts around the world collect Steinbach nutcrackers and wait for the newest models that come out every year.
How did the Steinbach nutcrackers become so sought after?
As mentioned above the classical Erzgebirge nutcrackers are portraits of authorities from the 18th and 19th century. Most are policemen, kings or soldiers. Herr Christian Steinbach has widened his range of nutcrackers enormously. He has created nutcrackers that portrait famous persons, legends and characters from art, literature & folklore. His Characters are not only famous in his home country Germany but in many other countries around the world. Also he has crafted many nutcrackers specifically for the US market such as generals or US presidents.
Some examples of popular Steinbach nutcrackers:
- The Phantom of the Opera
- King Ludwig II
- Generals Lee, Jackson and Sherman
- President Roosevelt
- Hickory Dickory Dock
- King Arthur
- Alice in Wonderland
- Mad Hatter
- The Thief of Bagdad
- Humpty Dumpty
- King Cole
- Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson
Steinbach's ingenuity and exceptional quality helped the Steinbach nutcrackers become that famous. But another fact also contributed. Herr Steinbach limited his nutcrackers and only produced a certain number of pieces. This made his nutcrackers even more interesting for collectors because usually an increase in value is the consequence of limitations. A very logical consequence if one considers that the offer is limited as soon as the demand reaches a certain number. It is fair to say that Herr Christian Steinbach has brought the Erzgebirge nutcracker to a different level. Every year Steinbach presents new models on the market and most are a success. Mr. Steinbach also deserves personal credit for that. He was also a wonderful person who enjoyed talking to every Steinbach nutcracker enthusiast. During many visits in the USA he has signed thousands of nutcrackers for collectors.