It was never my intention to collect nutcrackers. In fact the collecting of them has been a byproduct.
Although retired, my training has been that of a Restoration Carpenter. I've studied and employed the period joinery techniques of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
A few years ago my wife brought home a wood nutcracker of Chinese origin. She had purchased it for a few dollars in an after-Christmas sale. It appeared too lightly made to actually crack nuts. It had several loose and ill-fitting joints and some missing parts. I repaired and reworked it and it sat on our mantle for Christmas the next year.
Looking at that nutcracker and its shortcomings, I decided to see what real German nutcrackers were going for on eBay. This, combined with the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, began a new hobby of purchasing damaged nutcrackers and restoring them. It's kept me occupied while socially distant.
For me, being an interactive kind of guy, the satisfaction I get has always been more about the restoration than the collecting.
All but a few of the nutcrackers on these pages are from the former German Democratic Republic. Three East German examples, postdate reunification. There's also one West German maker represented.
I have nothing against West German crafts. I have an admitted fascination with the craft tradition of the Erzgebirge mining region and just prefer the typical minimal-frills approach to those vintage nutcrackers.
To my knowledge, I don't have any German heritage. I've never been to Germany. I don't speak or read the German language. If I did, the information here would undoubtedly be more complete.
All the same, I've learned some things about these little figures, in tidbits, over time and I'm pleased to share that information here.
For those companies which are still in business, you'll find links to their websites. Most sites have links to company histories. For those who aren't currently producing or I can't identify, I've shared as much information as I've been able to observe in person and compile from the Web.
I can't guarantee that every bit of information is accurate. It certainly won't be the complete story but you might gain a starting point for further research or hopefully, learn something new from perusing these pages.
Almost all of the East German production wood crafts, prior to reunification, carried an Expertic label, until they frequently fell off. Often, this is the only indication of origin on these items. This leads some uninformed sellers to believe that Expertic was a maker.
Expertic could be loosely described as a kind of guild or union. It promoted and in some ways protected crafts producers in the GDR. An Expertic label was a seal of approval. These labels varied over time and it might be possible to narrow a production date by the type of Expertic label. This however, is beyond my abilities to research.
Please note: None of the nutcrackers on these pages are for sale. In fact, some have already been given as gifts.
Another note: I can't appraise your nutcracker. Check the completed online auctions for an idea of what it was worth to someone.
A note further: I don't offer a restoration service for vintage nutcrackers. For what I would have to charge for the usual sorts of repairs to factory-made examples, you could buy at least one or likely more of the same model in good condition.