Nutcracker doll

A variety of nutcracker dolls

Nutcracker dolls, also known as Christmas nutcrackers, are nutcrackers figurines most commonly made to resemble a toy soldier. In the German tradition, the dolls are symbols of good luck, their teeth scaring away bad spirits.[1][2]


Original nutcracker dolls from a museum

The origin of nutcracker dolls is the late 17th century Germany, particularly the Ore Mountains (German: Erzgebirge) region. area.[1] One origin story attributes the creation of the first nutcracker doll to a craftsman from Seiffen.[2] They were often bought and given as gifts, and at some point they became associated with Christmas season, and particularly in the United States are seen as a Christmas decoration.[1] They grew in popularity around 19th century, and spread to nearby European countries.[1] As the demand grew, nutcracker doll production also begun on the mass scale in factories.[1] Wilhelm Fuchtner, known as "father of the nutcracker", begun the first mass production of the design (using a lathe) in 1872.[3][4]

A collection of fairy tale nutcrackers

They were popularized by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky adaptation of the The Nutcracker and the Mouse King play, which featured a character that is the toy soldier nutcracker.[1] The play was a hit in the United States, where it popularized the nutcracker dolls, almost a century after they became a regional hit in Europe.[1]


An average handcrafted doll is made out of about 60 separate pieces.[2] The nutcracker dolls traditionally resemble toy soldiers, and are often painted in bright colors.[1] Different designs proliferated early, by the early 19th century there were ones dressed as miners, policemen, royalty or soldiers from different armies.[2] More recent variations have been made to resemble various pop-culture or historical figurines, from Benjamin Franklin to Desert Wars-uniform American soldiers.[1][2]

While nearly all nutcrackers until first half of the 20th century are functional, significant proportion of the modern decorative nutcrackers are primarily decorative, and not able to crack nuts.[5]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nutcracker dolls.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Malone, Noreen (2010-12-16). "In a Nutshell". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2016-07-22.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Ballet, The Australian. "The nutcracker doll: a history | The Australian Ballet". Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  3. "NM The History of Nutcrackers ~ Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum". Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  4. Maureen Stanton (9 June 2011). Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: An Insider's Look at the World of Flea Markets, Antiques, and Collecting. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-101-51605-8.
  5. "Why Fancy Nutcrackers Don't Actually Crack Nuts | The Plate". 2014-12-08. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
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