As a child growing up in the Amana Colonies, a German-speaking community in Iowa, the highlight of Christmas each year was when my mother would bring out two large boxes filled with small, painted wooden toys which had been sent to her in the early 1920's by relatives living in Germany. They were vibrantly painted and simple - yet, at the same time, intricate - little wooden tin-wheeled vehicles, carousels, market stands, animals and people. My sister and I would spend hours creating little scenes with them underneath the Christmas tree. Back then, they had no name - but I knew I LOVED them! Somewhere along the way, I learned they were called "Erzgebirge," literally translating to "Ore Mountains," which is the region they were - and still are - made in Germany. I knew I had to have more, but I wasn't prepared for what all lay in store. The region began creating these wonderful pieces in the early 1800's and even earlier in, of course, a more primitive form that one can see evolve over the years to the pieces still being produced to this day.
What I find most fascinating is the reason why so much Erzgebirge can be found in Pennsylvania in particular and the northeastern United States. In the early 1900's just after World War 1, little Erzgebirge toys were sent by the Germans to their transplanted relatives in the United States as "thank you" gifts in return for food and supplies which the Americans had sent to Germany during the years of hardship after the war. Consequently, Erzgebirge can be found more easily in areas having a large German-American population, especially in the Northeastern US, specifically New York and Pennsylvania.
Wooly sheep are especially sought after by collectors. These are three unusual examples of Erzgebirge sheep on rocker, mother and baby as pull toy, and a sheep nodder on wheels.
Wonderfully primitive and early (ca. 1870's) Erzgebirge angel candle holder made with Brotteig (bread dough) arms and lovely painting. Note the sponge painting technique used on the apron and around the base.
Don't think decorating your kitchen with original antique prints is out of your budget. The top pastry chefs in Germany in the late 1800s and early 1900s (J.M. Erich Weber, Adolf Heckmann and Carl Krackhart, along with countless others) all published wonderful cookbooks rich with original prints at the back of the cookbook perfect for framing, as they were only printed on one side. Later editions of the same cookbook often had those same prints in black and white, but the earlier editions of the cookbooks published the prints in color. The printing company of Heinrich Killinger in Leipzig and Nordhausen specialized in pastry cookbooks, and the illustrations are gorgeous. Although an original Heinrich Killinger cookbook may set you back around $200, the cookbooks can contain dozens and dozens of prints (I love to cost average!) bringing the cost per print to even under $10. The Killinger publishing house also published other specialty and "how to" books, and they are often full of beautiful prints. And, of course, the added bonus is you have a wonderful recipe book full of of hundreds and hundreds of pastry recipes from the top Konditors/Pastry Chefs in Germany in the early 1900s (in German, of course, but if you can't translate you can go to any one of a number of websites out there that will translate for you like www.babelfish.com. Try looking for the cookbooks on eBay or a website specializing in antique and hard-to-find books like www.zvab.com.
Welcome to Living Tastefully's "Antique of the Week" page. Our love of antiques is reflected in every aspect of our everyday lives. We are passionate about collecting and also love functional antiques that can actually be used and not only admired. Hopefully we can inspire you to incorporate antiques in your home and your life to add charm and beauty to your surroundings.
I love to use antique light fixtures wherever I can in my home. As you will soon be aware, eBay has become my most favorite source for antiques for the past five years, and it is no exception when it comes to light fixtures. For this article I will concentrate on light fixtures I have purchased on eBay Germany (www.ebay.de). They are reasonably priced and easily found. (However, with the weak dollar and reports of a weaker dollar to come, buying on German eBay is not the antique heaven that it used to be.) My favorite fixtures have quickly become those with the marbleized glass shades popular in Europe in the 1920's - 1950's. And don't worry if only the glass shade is available and none or only some of the parts, such as the ceiling canopies, etc. All the better! You can get the shade for a steal and create a lovely fixture finding the necessary parts at antique salvage houses or shops specializing in light fixtures. A good source for me for vintage lighting parts has been Art & Architecture, Inc., 3338 University Avenue, S.E., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414, #612/904-1776. I prefer to have brass finishes on all my lamp parts, but if nickel finishes are your preference, that is also not a problem. Should any of my restoration parts not be solid brass or need a new finish, I take them to Blakley Polishing, 3102 North Dixie Drive, Dayton, Ohio, #937/274-8448. Larry specializes in plating auto parts but does a wonderful job on any antiques I bring him for restoration. He's so good, Jerry Seinfeld personally drove out one of his vintage Porsches from New York City to Dayton just to have Blakley Polishing restore all the nickel plating on his car and flew back to Dayton again to pick it up when it was finished. If you'd rather have someone in your area do the work, just look under "Plating" in your local Yellow Pages to find someone to help with your project. Then all you need is someone to rewire the fixture, and you're on your way to putting the finishing touch to any room, entryway or hallway!
Welcome to Living Tastefully’s “Antique of the Week” page. Our love of antiques is reflected in every aspect of our everyday lives. We are passionate about collecting and also love functional antiques that can actually be used and not only admired. Hopefully we can inspire you to incorporate antiques in your home and your life to add charm and beauty to your surroundings.