Links to some
restored examples.




VERO Nutcrackers

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 About the VERO Nutcrackers

VERO (Vereinigte Erzgebirgische Spielwarenwerke Olbernhau) was a huge, partly government owned, conglomerate with nutcrackers being just one of many production items.

The company operated from several locations simultaneously and went through more than a few evolutions. It cut back operations just prior to reunification before ceasing operations altogether in 1990. The trademark expired a few years later.

The nutcrackers, for the most part, can be described as variations on a molded body and head. Their construction isn't exactly traditional but they were produced with an impressive variety of appealing designs in massive numbers.

The conspicuous features which identify them are: Curved jaw levers, blue eyeshadow and plastic mustaches, and eyebrows, on most. Since these brittle plastic parts stick out in some cases, they are prone to being broken or accidentally pried off and lost. I know of only one design which had mustaches and eyebrows made from a material which resembles, or is, human hair.

There are several designs which were also made in smaller, 9 to 10-inch versions.


 Construction

The bodies and heads of most, are made of a composite consisting of sawdust and resin. You can see a circular injection point on the rear of the body under the lever. Front and back halves are joined together. Paper reinforcement is glued to the sides where the arms are doweled. A wood nose is added, then the body/head assembly is drilled, lacquered and detailed prior to the other lacquered wood, felt, fir and plastic parts being added.

There were a few designs with wood bodies. These had shorter legs and longer bodies, representing robes or overcoats.

Wood nutcracker bodies can be turned quickly by a copy lathe, even rapidly hand turned by an experienced craftsman. You might wonder what benefit could come from casting the bodies. It does make use of an abundant waste material, sawdust but resin and hardener aren't without cost. Mixing, molding and setting aside for hardening, takes labor and time. I have no information about East German lumber supply or cost, so I don't know if that was a factor. It's clear that this material wasn't commonly used by other nutcracker manufacturers at the time.

Due to the composite bodies and heads, these nutcrackers tend to be heavier than similar sized wood nutcrackers of other makers. If the composite bodies sustain an impact, they don't dent or chip like wood. They tend to crumble in the area of impact.

Otherwise, the VERO composite material usually holds up well over time. Occasionally you will find examples that, possibly due to an error in the mixture, have started to crumble all by themselves. This can be very obvious disintegration or take the form of paint that is blistering and flaking off in places. There is no remedy for this problem.

Since the properly formulated molded bodies and heads are dimensionally stable, unlike the wood parts, lacquer doesn't usually flake off with age. Unfortunately, because the dowels used in the joints are wood, it's this same stability which contributes to glue joint failure, not that the joints in all-wood nutcrackers don't fail. They surely do.

Sometimes you'll find a penned mark or initial under the base along with an "Expertic" approval label. I have one VERO example which has stamped instructions for cracking a nut, in English, under the base.


 Other Companies Using VERO Parts

GothaThe chipboard manufactory, VEB Spanplattenwerk Gotha appears to have used some VERO parts for a few of their nutcrackers. Pictured is a Gotha Jaeger-style nutcracker from eBay. It has the VERO body and the same plastic mustache, eyebrows and wood feet but a different nose from the VERO examples. Although the company still appears to be in business, I haven't seen anything related to crafts or nutcrackers among the products they produce now.

After reunification, Christian Ulbricht moved back to Seiffen and took over the VERO craft operation. Ulbricht continued to make several models that were identical to, or were heavily based on, the VERO nutcrackers. The Ulbricht versions often had straight jaw levers and had an oval gold-colored label under the base.

Christian Ulbricht currently makes a few all-wood nutcrackers in their Klassik (Classic) line which have elements of, or closely resemble the old VERO nutcrackers. Except for the natural wood finishes, their Musketeer is almost a direct copy. These more recent Ulbricht nutcrackers are often branded "S N" (Seiffener Nu▀knackerhaus) under the base.

What the relationship with VEB Spanplattenwerk Gotha to VERO was, I can't say. The facts of that situation will be for you to research, if you are so inclined. I've gone on about it more than long enough.


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