The Steinbach Family
The Steinbach name is recognized around the world as leaders in collectible Christmas nutcrackers. The tradition of handmade nutcrackers has been passed down from generation to generation. The Steinbach family hails from the Erzgebirge, a mountainous mining region in Eastern Germany. Centuries ago, families in the area turned to wood-working as the mining industry slowed. Limited permits were established for the native craftsmen and their families. Out of this industry, the Steinbach family name became synonymous with nutcrackers.
Herr Christian Steinbach - a fifth-generation nutcracker maker - passed away in 2007. His daughter, Karla Steinbach, has taken over operations of the company that continues to export Christmas cheer worldwide. Karla’s daughter, Karolin, is also carrying on the tradition.
A History of Decorative Nutcrackers
Wooden nutcrackers from the Erzgebirge region became part of the German Christmas tradition. German legend states that a nutcracker represents power and strength, guarding families from evil spirits and danger. Decorative nutcrackers traditionally represented authority figures such as kings, soldiers and policemen.
Decorative nutcracker popularity soared in the US in the 1950s due to American soldiers stationed in Germany. At the same time, Tschaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite, an adaptation of an 1816 Christmas story called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King proved to be an immensely popular ballet in America. The tradition of the nutcracker during the holidays has become as much an American Christmas tradition as a German one.
Steinbach Nutcrackers are the most popular collectible nutcracker in the United States. Going beyond traditional authority figure archetypes, Steinbach expanded their range of nutcrackers to images of legends, German folklore and popular culture icons. The Steinbach family's role in contributing to the rising popularity of nutcrackers cannot be overemphasized.
How Steinbach Nutcrackers Are Made
Made from fir wood that has dried for several years before it is cut into the sizes needed for production, Steinbach nutcrackers are still quite labor-intensive to make. The major processes still include cutting, shaping, hand-turning, lathing, carving, polishing, drilling, priming, spraying and painting. Usually standing on a base and created from on average 60 pieces and 100 processes, these nutcrackers are carved and painted by hand to provide the high-quality finishing touches expected of a Steinbach nutcracker.
The Steinbach family of artisans takes exceptional pride in their craftsmanship and superb quality. The value of a Steinbach Nutcracker is both in its unique design and its attention to detail.
What Makes Steinbach Nutcrackers Unique
Beyond the traditional soldiers, Steinbach has created new ranges of nutcrackers from Civil War Generals to American Presidents and characters from movies and novels. The Wizard of Oz collection, for example, is extremely popular.
Steinbach has also created excitement with their limited edition releases. The first limited edition Steinbach nutcracker was King Ludwig II with 3000 pieces. This created a tremendous increase in the Steinbach nutcracker fan club. Still today, Steinbach has created limited editions of nutcrackers such as the Christmas Legends Nutcracker Series. Collectors of Steinbach Nutcrackers clamored to find the next newest releases year after year.
For most of two centuries the Steinbach family has been producing fine wood products and their role in contributing to the rising popularity of nutcrackers cannot be overemphasized. Always changing with the times but still keeping the traditional values of exceptional craftsmanship and superb quality, a Steinbach Nutcracker continues to remain the leader in the nutcracker industry.