Links to some
restored examples.

Heinrich C. Preis, West German Maker/Distributer

September 2021

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 About Heinrich C. Preis

Heinrich C. Preis made or distributed Christmas-related handcrafted items in West Germany. Since there is currently nothing about his operation on the Web, I'll share what I know. Unfortunately, this is very little.

The idea has been suggested elsewhere that Preis may have only been a distributer of the items bearing his labels. I can't prove or disprove this. It seems reasonable that the items he signed were possibly made by him. It's also possible that some or all of the items could have been imported from China or elsewhere.

My best guess is that Preis began making or importing craft items sometime in the 1980s. The range of his items included nutcrackers, incense smokers and Christmas pyramids. My first exposure to them were the green and red Nutcrackers on this page. At the time I acquired them, I couldn't identify the source. I compared decoration styles, paint pigment and even attempts to cover up imperfections, on known Preis items. Then I found a German price tag on one. I concluded they had at least been sold in Germany and the most likely distributer was Heinrich C. Preis.

Preis used at least three different rectangular labels on items that he sold. Apparently he worked and/or distributed items from at least three locations in Rhineland-Palatinate Germany. These were; Drehenthalerhof, Schweisweiler (late '90s) and Dannenfels.

Two of his nutcrackers that I've seen, closely mimic HoDreWa nutcrackers but are more crudely finished. Another resembles a Christian Ulbricht nutcracker. Still another attempts to emulate a VERO Blue King but is all wood with hand carved eyebrows and mustache.

SignaturesSome of Preis' items were signed and dated with a Sharpie-type marker under the base. The most recent date I've found is 2005. He also used a Sharpie to add lettering, inscriptions and decoration to some things.

Upon examining these items, the thing that will occur to you instantly, is that this is not factory work. Not only are these items scarce but many show signs of having been completed, then reworked before leaving their point of origin.

I have one nutcracker which had the height of its boots repainted. You can see the lower line of the previous height under the paint. Another had a split in the wood filled with a glued rag and painted over. Two others had some rough end grain under the head and body, spackeled over with something like joint compound and painted over. With time, this has deteriorated and started to flake off. Another I've seen has an extra piece added to the lower jaw which apparently didn't close completely after attaching the lever. This makes the lower teeth appear very long. Most examples aren't quite symmetrical, having arms or other parts that don't exactly match each other.

As far as I'm concerned, these touch-ups and irregularities add character to these items and I admire their uniqueness. Regardless of their origin, they are obviously hand made.

The Heinrich C. Preis craft items pictured below were currently available in online auctions as I wrote this. A search may turn up more examples as time progresses. Gotta' love the smoking nurse.


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