HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT ANTIQUES OR COLLECTIBLES?

Send me an E-mail
(Please, no questions
 about value.)

Instructions for sending photographs of your pieces with your question.
 

Who was one of the most versatile artists of the Art Nouveau Movement?

Victor Horta
Vincent Van Gogh
Emile Gallé
                     To see the answer

Art Nouveau
by Uta Hasekamp

Art Nouveau was a phenomenon with many faces. Between 1890 and 1910, artists developed a variety of styles from the plant-like forms of the Belgian-French Art Nouveau to the ornamentation of the Viennese Secession. They were all striving to create a new, modern style and pursued a comprehensive renewal of art and, in some countries, a renewed national identity.


                                   
More Books

 WATCH VIDEOS

Art Nouveau—
Goodbye Art-Academy

Although the Art Nouveau style wasn’t around for a long time, its influence affected every form of art, from architecture to pottery to furniture design and even glass and pottery. This short video gives a brief overview of the Movement.
 

Click on the title to view.


And look for other videos in selected articles.
 

Have Bob speak
 on antiques to your group or organization.

More Information

Can't find what
 you're looking for?

Go to our Sitemap

Find out what's coming in the
2022 Summer Edition

of the
THE ANTIQUES ALMANAC

"Splendor in the Glass"

COMING IN
July

Share pages of this ezine with your friends using the buttons provided with each article.


Download our
Decorative Periods and Styles Chart
 

Read our newest glossary:

Antique Furniture Terminology
 from A to Z

courtesy of AntiquesWorldUK

Videos have
come to


The Antiques
Almanac

Expand your antiques experience.

Look for videos
in various
articles.

Just click on the
arrow to play.


Featured Antique




La Plume Poster Alphonse Mucha
 

Sweet Sweet Santas
by Bob Brooke

 


Of all the holiday decorations produced since the mid-19th century, few remain as cherished as early German Santa Claus candy containers, called springheads. These little novelties feature a Santa wearing a red-flocked coat and a cone-shaped hat, carrying a small Christmas tree decorated with colored beads. These handmade characterizations of Father Christmas remain a popular collectible.

The manufacture of Santa candy containers began in the 1880s. Makers sold them to an eager American market. By the end of the decade, U.S. retailers offered their customers German-made Santas in a variety of sizes and styles.

Selling for a mere five cents, these Santas represented old Kris Kringle in snow-covered garb. Sometimes makers added gold tinsel to represent sparkling snow. Santa containers came in a variety of sizes, from five to seven-and-a-half inches tall. Santa, himself, had a finely painted red face and white beard and wore a heavy coat. Other Santas wore felt robes trimmed with lamb's wool or felt. Purple crepe paper sometimes lined the inside of the outfit. Some of the Santas carry a tiny wicker basket at their waist or on their back.

The Germans couldn't make them fast enough. The making of these early candy containers involved eight to ten families, each responsible for different areas of production. One family might fashion the boots, another would create Santa's clothing, while another would add Santa's rabbit-fur beard. But the most important step involved painting the face.

Over the years the details of Santa’s face changed. One of the biggest influences was the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” that portrayed Santa as a jolly old elf with a thick, flowing white beard and a white fur-trimmed suit. The public's impression of Father Christmas as a stern, thin old man changed dramatically in the late 19th century when Thomas Nast began illustrating St. Nick as a fat, jolly elf-like character for Harper's Weekly.

People originally saw St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, as a gift-giving old man who rode a white horse and gave goodies to children. Father Christmas took the initial image of St. Nicholas and gave it a twist, making him an old bearded man who doled out punishments as well as rewards.

Residents of certain parts of Germany saw Christkindchen, the German Christ child, as a gift giver. The English butchered the pronunciation of the name, so that today he’s popularly known as Kris Kringle. This figure traditionally wore a white robe and a white jeweled crown, traveling the countryside on a mule. He was said to have been accompanied by Pelze Nicol, a boy with a blackened face. Yet even Pelze Nicol developed into his own personality, becoming Belsnickle, a sinister-looking Santa who punished bad children.

Important scientific discoveries have also been incorporated into these Christmas figures, the most notable being the invention of the light bulb. Between1907 and 1910, the Germans made Santa candy containers featuring an electric lantern strapped to Santa's chest. The figure also held a feather tree decorated with three electric bulbs. A battery operated all four lights.

Likewise, Santa's means of transportation hasn't remained static over the years. Some candy containers show Santa on a sheep, donkey or mule, while others had him riding a sleigh made of moss. The Germans crafted log sleighs with the bed of the sleigh large enough to hold both candy and small wooden toys known as Ergebirge.

Where makers placed the candy and dried fruit and how they made them accessible varied from one container to another. Santas also carried different types of baskets. Some simply had a cloth or felt bag for goodies. Some candy containers came in two pieces, having removable heads or a cardboard tube that separated when Santa's legs and torso, enabling them to be pulled apart. Other examples, such as those showing Santa on a chimney, had a plug on the bottom or a paper seal.

Regardless of the type, people gave Santa candy containers mostly as gifts. After the receiver ate the candy, they used the container as a holiday decoration. Even though people brought out these Santas for the holidays each year, they could be easily damaged not only by overzealous children allowed to play with the Santas, but also by prolonged exposure to sunlight. While children might physically destroy the candy container, the sun did consider-able harm by fading bright-red coats to a light-brown or turning the interior of the garment from purple to blue.

What destroyed the great artistry of German candy containers, however, was competition from foreign countries. By the 1920s the public was more willing to accept plainer-looking Santas, and the Japanese provided them. Although the Japanese based their candy containers on German examples, the fine details soon became too expensive to produce. The public accepted cheaper imitations, trading savings for a loss in quality.

It's that loss of true artistry over the years that makes vintage German-made Santa candy containers so collectible today. Prices begin at about $375 but rarer ones often sell for several thousand dollars.

< Back to Collectibles Archives                                      Next Article >

FOLLOW MY WEEKLY BLOG
Antiques Q&A


JOIN MY COLLECTION
Antiques and More on
Facebook

LIKE MY FACEBOOK PAGE
The Antiques Almanac on Facebook

No antiques or collectibles
are sold on this site.

How to Recognize and Refinish Antiques for Pleasure and Profit

Book: How to Recognizing and Refinishing Antiques for Pleasure and Profit
Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

Read an Excerpt

Auction News
Get up to the minute news of antiques auctions around the country and the world.

Also see
The Auction Directory

Antiques News
Read breaking news stories from the world of antiques and collectibles.

Art Exhibitions
Search for art exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world.

Home | About This Site | Antiques | Collectibles | Antique Tips | Book Shop | Antique Trivia | Antique Spotlight | Antiques News  Special Features | Caring for Your Collections | Collecting | Readers Ask | Antiques Glossaries | Resources | Contact
Copyright ©2007-2019 by Bob Brooke Communications
Site design and development by BBC Web Services