Nutcracker Museum

Bavarian Leavenworth, Washington

FAQ ~ Wooden Toy Soldier Style

Why are they called wooden toy soldier nutcrackers?

The popular nutcrackers we see at Christmas time are designated as Wooden Toy Soldier Nutcrackers.  We call them this because the first nutcrackers were made as replicas of soldiers and other figures of authority.  The common folk took great enjoyment in having the ruling people working for them, cracking their “hard nuts of life”.  The term “wooden toy soldier” differentiates this type of nutcracker from the other types—antique carved, screw, percussion, mechanical, etc.  The parts are turned on a lathe and typically they will have a handle at the back that opens the mouth to receive the nut. 

Are these nutcrackers handmade?

Even though the parts for the wooden toy soldiers are turned on a lathe, they are considered handmade as trained workers assemble, paint by hand and make and add various accessories. 

Who made the first wooden toy soldier nutcrackers? 

Although Seiffen in the Erzgebirge region of Germany is generally considered the birthplace of the wooden toy soldier nutcracker, many authorities believe it first appeared in Sonneberg in theThuringia region of Germany.  Wilhelm Füchtner of Seiffen is known as the “Father of the Nutcracker” as his basic design was used by most makers in the area.  In 1872 he began the first commercial production making multiple figures of the same design and adding various accessories to make different characters.

Why are the German nutcrackers so expensive?

It takes 130 steps to make a nutcracker from the cutting of the wood to the finished product.  The German nutcrackers are made from quality products and by skilled makers who have trained for several years in the craft.  Also the German workers are paid a fair wage for their work, and you can be assured of a superior product.

Do the wooden toy soldier nutcrackers actually crack nuts?

Initially all the wooden toy soldier nutcrackers were made to open the hard shell of the nuts, and since they actually were used to crack nuts for the family, it is very difficult today to find an old nutcracker in good condition.  It was only after people started collecting nutcrackers as a hobby that many companies started making them solely for decoration.   Today, there are several makers who still make them study enough to crack a nut, although most people do not want to have the paint damaged and therefore use a mechanical cracker to do the work. 


Quick Links

Federal ID #91-2143303

A Non-Profit 501(c)3 Organization

 

Contact Us

735 Front Street
P.O. Box 2212
Leavenworth, WA 98826

(509) 548-4573

MUSEUM HOURS
Open 7 Days a Week
1:00PM - 5:00PM

Nutcracker Museum Mission Statement:

"To foster and encourage the interest of the general public of the importance of nuts in the diets of humans throughout history and in the evolution of the nutcracker. No other tool or collectible has shown such a wide diversity of material and design as the implements used to crack the hard shell of a nut"

Museum Admission:

Adults  - $5.00  (Ages 17 - 64yrs)
Seniors - $3.50  (Age 65yrs +)
Youth   - $2.00  (Ages 6 - 16yrs)
Child    - FREE   (Ages 0 - 5yrs)
Military & Families - FREE