Today's post will break down the creation of Nutcrackers with each week, telling the story of how these beautiful and handcrafted collectables came to be. Today I want to speak of the Steinbach family and their historical contribution to the carvings we now know today as nutcrackers. It all began way back in the 13th century. Many of the Steinbach family were successfil architects, merchants, and city officials including judges, others had special talents as wood carvers. One member of their famous family, Erwin, was responsible for planning and building the Strasbourge cathedral which is belived to be the very first piece of Steinbach artin the world. During medieval times the Steinbach family were not isolated from economic problems. Like other families in their area,they were persecuted and feared for their lives due to wars and religious beliefs and ultimately decided to relocate to the German area of Erzgebirge.
The Erzgebirge is a mountain range in eastern Germany, drawing its name from the translation, "Ore Mountains," The Erzgebirge today is a region in the state of Saxonia, Germany that was once part of the German Democratic Republic until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The area of Erzgebirge is roughly 90 miles long and 30 miles wide and its rough climate is the target of cold and bitter Russian winds. The countryside is a beautiful collection of castles and other ancient structures. These along with the wonderful snows that the region is blessed with during the winter months makes it a very popular German vacation area. The cultures and traditions of this area date back to the first settlers in the 13th century. During the 16th to the 18th centuries the Erzgebirge region was a very wealthy area due to the large deposits of silver and tin. The mining industry was very lucrative during this time. When the metal mines wound down, miners were forced to search for other ways in which to support themselves and their families. Many of the miners had taken up woodcarving as hobbies and when they searched for alternate sources of income, the woodcarving became their livelihood. The traditional methods of creating nutcrackers, candle arches, Christmas pyramids and incense smokers paved the way for the beautiful German collectibles that now has collectors from around the world.
The Steinbach Company or, Steinbach GmbH – Vereinigte Werkstaetten Deutscher Volkskunst, maintains two production workshops to produce its beautiful and whimsical nutcrackers. There is an older plan in Hohenhameln in northern Germany. This plant was opened after the Steinbach family moved from the Erzgebirge region at the end of World War II. During that time the region was under Soviet rule and small business owners were seeing a fair share of problems. After the end of communist rule in Europe, Christian Steinbach built a second factory in Marienberg which lies at the very heart of the Erzgebirge region.
The Steinbach family has endured persecution, relocation and a world of other trials in their nearly 200 years of production. Their beautiful nutcrackers today are among the most popular German treasures. Besides the popular nutcrackers, the Steinbach Company also produces incense smokers, music boxes and an array or ornaments.
In February 2007, Herr Christian Steinbach, who had led the company for several decades, passed away. It was he who made the Steinbach name the popular and highly known name that it is today. Karla Steinbach, Christian’s daughter, is now responsible for the Steinbach GmbH. She is the sixth generation of Steinbach’s to head the family company.
The Steinbach nutcrackers are a very popular source for collectors. With their elegant and beautiful designs and their sometimes downright whimsical and comical expressions, these collectibles are known the world over and the Steinback name only ensures that they are made with the utmost quality in mind and centuries of tradition. From the early days in ancient Greece when Aristotle created an instrument in which to help break the hard shell of edible nuts, nutcrackers have been a popular instrument. With the implementation of design and hand carving, the Steinbach’s have made them a treasured decoration. With the Nutcracker Suite being so vastly popular, nutcrackers have gained in popularity as well. Many museums in the Erzgebirge area offer a glimpse into the earlier versions of the nutcracker, most in the form of authority figures such as kings and soldiers. While these are still popular items today, the nutcrackers that the Steinbach Company produces also take on the shapes of famous characters such as Civil War heroes, US Presidents, the Phantom of the Opera, and fairy tale characters such as Alice in Wonderland, Hickory Dickory Dock and Old King Cole. Some say that there is a nutcracker for everyone. No matter what interests you, there is a great possibility that you will be able to find a nutcracker that is perfectly suited to your own style and taste. It is because of the creativity in designing these nutcrackers of various people and styles that has made the Steinback Company so widely popular and well known. During the 18th and 19th centuries most were simply depicting authority figures. Once Herr Christian Steinbach widened the range of nutcrackers that the company produced, their popularity gained in significant waves.
Steinbach pushed his family’s business over the top with regards to fame. With this creative mind and his ingenuity he ensured that the nutcrackers produced by the Steinbach Company were unsurpassed with regards to design and beauty. With his eye for quality and insistence on using methods that invoke tradition, he ensured that all customers of Steinbach products would always return for more. Many nutcrackers from the Steinbach name are exclusive and limited edition which only helps to propel them into popularity. Their value increases and collectors strive to find just one piece of an exclusive line in hopes of adding it to their already full nutcracker shelves.
It has been noted that Herr Christian Steinbach brought the Erzgebirge nutcracker to a completely new level. Each year new models and designs are produced and each is a huge success. Herr Christian Steinbach was a man of great honor and great vision. He is credited with the success of the Steinback name and spent many hours signing his nutcrackers for collectors all over the world. Spending time with nutcracker collectors was a joy for Herr Christian Steinbach and he is a man who is sorely missed among collectors and manufacturers alike.