The nutcracker (nussknacker) is one of the most popular German souvenirs to bring back…but where can you buy an original German made nutcracker with all the cheap China made products flooding the market? I did a bit of research about this and came out with two locations in Frankfurt am Main.
Germany has a long history of making quality wooden toys and the nutcracker was originally made in the rural areas of Germany. It’s usually shaped as a soldier and has a large mouth which can be opened with a wooden lever at the back of the doll. You can insert a nut inside the mouth and push down, cracking the nut – although the figurines are mostly used for decorative purposes now.
Steinbach is the most premium manufacturer and all their nutcracker dolls are hand carved. These would run in the hundreds of Euros for just a small figurine. It’s not about the size (haha, no really) but the quality! There are huge 1 foot nutcrackers for 20 Euros but those are mass produced China made dolls.
I couldn’t afford a Steinbach but I still wanted a German made nutcracker so I went with Seiffener Volkskunst instead. These nutcrackers are not only handmade, but also hand painted in Germany! That’s why every nutcracker looks a little different – the paint on every single one isn’t the same. Their wooden toys are all individually made and painted!
I got a 1 foot nutcracker for my dear as a souvenir for 48 Euros. The nutcracker dolls can run from 50 Euros – 200+ Euros, depending on the size and detail. There are two shops in Frankfurt which is reputable – the big Handwerkskunst am Romer and the smaller, more cottage industry-like Handwerkskunst Ulrike Scheit.
The prices are same in both – avoid the tourist traps that sells souvenirs, these are dedicated stores which sells wooden toys and only handmade wooden toys. I went *twice* (running up a 30 Euro taxi bill each way) so I could get another nutcracker doll for my dad. Old German folklore says the nutcracker dolls are keepsakes to bring good luck to your family and protect your home by guarding your family from evil spirits and danger.
“Don’t be afraid, my beard is long, my head is large, my look is grim but that matters not. I won’t bite you. In spite of my big mouth and grim appearance, I look with my heart for your happiness.”
Posted: 6:13 pm Frankfurt time (GMT +2) on the 14th April – we’re still one day behind and it’s our last day in Germany!
Updates on our 10 day vacation through Germany and France:
22 thoughts on “Nutcrackers and other wooden toys from Germany”
I love nutcracker… my parents have a few in their house…I wouldn’t mine those cheap China made ones… they are just so cute and reminds me of Xmas! 😀
Yeah, I love the story behind it! 🙂
I wanted to get an authentic hand-made and hand painted German one since it’s our first Europe trip and the old families that handmakes the wooden toys have a long and stories history.
It’s quite expensive though – the one I got my dad was 129 Euros for a 15″ nutcracker!
Ooooo…lovely toys! So pretty! Hmmm…what nuts are you going to crack with those? Muahahahahaha!!!!!
Haha! Hopefully not my own! 🙂
They’re too fragile and the imagery of going into the nutcracker’s mouth is too weird in too many ways! LOL!
Yeah, they’re pretty compared to the mass produced China ones that all looks the same. However, have to fork out a lot for the handmade ones though, but it’s worth it since we only got one souvenir and we wanted it to be authentic.
Aiyo…. didn’t know they even import from China ! Lol…. I think I also had the nutcracker before and all this while, I thought it’s made in England. Thanks for sharing.
Yeah I used to think it was made in England too coz of the way it’s painted – like the classic English soldier. 🙂
However, I found out during my first trip that it’s Germany who makes them and they’re famous for hand making miniature wooden toys – some that fits into a box of matches!
There’s a famous Frankfurt Christmas Market where you can get it cheaper but the established German companies sells it all year long.
I love these nutcracker toys! They always look very unique and avant garde to my eyes. Truly European!
Lovely quote – I look with my heart for your happiness.
Yup, they’re truly a wonderful souvenir from Germany! 🙂
Especially since Germany has a long history of making wooden toys and I wanted to get a nutcracker for my dad too. The German made ones aren’t cheap though – the 15″ nutcracker I got my dad (it’s Konig – or King, with a staff) costs 129 Euros!
Have a great, safe trip! greetings from TX, usa
Thanks James! 🙂
We had a wonderful time together in Germany and France!
i remember the story always used to freak me out a little. very weird story. lol.
Haha! Me too! 🙂
The nutcracker is a classic Christmas story but a little weird when I read it as a kid too!
I always wanted one though – couldn’t afford to get 3 so I got one for my dear and one for my dad. I will be able to see both anyway.
so cute.. but one for 48 Euros?? O.O
but then again.. if i’m there, i wouldn’t mind to pay that much to get one as souvenir.. not like i’ll go back there again anytime soon.. haha..
Yeah, that’s the minimum price for a real hand-made, hand-painted German nutcracker! 🙂
The one I got my dad is 129 Euros but it’s from a more established maker and it’s bigger at 15″ (which is almost 1 1/2 feet tall).
It’s the only souvenir we got so I figured might as well spend a little bit more to get an original and authentic one since we’re already in Germany. The most expensive one I got was nearly RM 700 (!!!) but it’s for my dad so it’s okay.
The doll looks really good. The price is reasonable I guess for a handmade souvenir. HAHA! 😀
Yup, it is worth it for a hand-carved, hand-assembled, and hand-painted nutcracker! 🙂
The history of German wooden toys, especially the nutcracker, makes it heresy if we bought a 20 Euro China made one. Haha!
We just got one souvenir so might as well make it an authentic nutcracker.
cute but the price is so not wallet-friendly!
but since it’s completely handmade, i wouldn’t mind someone buying it for me LOLOL. what, poor student i am ma 😛
The bigger ones are more expensive! The one I got my dad was almost RM 700! 🙂
It’s completely handmade, every single one, so there are differences and each one is original, up to the pasting of the hair, so every nutcracker looks a bit different.
I thought it was worth the price – got one for my better half and one for my dad and not enough money to get one for myself. Haha!
Love the nutcrackers you got for me,dear. Simply the best birthday gift from Germany. Come to think of it, we were lucky to pass by this shop and got this awesome souvenir. Thanks dear. Hugs**
Yeah, coz we missed the one in Romer! 🙂
It must have been the crazy guy that distracted everyone. Haha!
Glad you liked it dear, I think it’s a special gift, everything is handmade in Germany unlike so many things from China now.
Happy birthday dear! <3
handmade and hand painted that is something to be cherished. 🙂
Love the last line . May both of you have happiness always
Yup, considering the cost of labor in Germany! 🙂
It’s a labor of love too, all these old wooden toy companies still making nutcrackers! The one I got my dad was 129 Euros but that is larger – almost 1 1/2 foot. My dear didn’t like the large ones that shows Konig (King), she prefers the Knight and Soldier ones.