Friday, March 5, 2010

Erzgebirge Flower Children From Germany

A trio of flower children from the Erzgebirge

What could me more charming that the combination of children and flowers in spring?

From the Erzgebirge come delightful figurines of children holding single flower stems. The Erzgebirge is a tiny region of eastern Germany, bordering on Czechoslovakia. It is mountainous and for a time ore deposits supported the region. As the mining declined, cottage industries developed to replace it. Among the most famous are the folk art style wooden toys and religious figures, nutcrackers, and figurines the folk art style wooden nutcrackers, toys, and these captivating little figures, the so called blumenkinder. These are the type of old fashioned toys one sees in illustrated picture books of “The Night Before Christmas.”

Great attention is given to the hand painted details of Erzgebirge wares.

These wonderful little figures are of a naïve simplicity. They are made of wood and finished with fresh, high gloss enamels. The facial features are carefully painted in minute detail. As children became enamored with American style toys of plastic, and in the last decade, electronic games, these very simple toys have become increasingly out of fashion. For many adults however, Erzgebirge figures and toys are collected as reminders of simpler times. The figurines are somewhat expensive, and not easy to find. There are numerous shops in German towns and cities that have many visitors from abroad. They can also be found in German specialty shops and markets during Advent.

Snowdrop flower child from the Erzgebirge

Most people are likely more familiar with the products of the Erzgebirge in the form of the soldier doll nutcrackers seen in the Tchaikovsky ballet, and in illustrated children’s books. Both the flower children and the nutcrackers are now being very poorly reproduced in China, and care should be taken so that one buys originals. While new figurines are expensive, Erzgebirge can be bought less expensively from reputable sellers on eBay.

They make wonderful gifts for gardeners, horticulturalists, or those who love flowers, especially if the figure selected holds a favourite flower or one of significance to the recipient. They are little bouquets that never wilt, and will remain long after a special occasion. In Germany, they are favourite gifts for this reason, and over the years I have been delighted whenever I received one on my birthday or at Christmas.

Miniature Erzgebirge angel musicians are very popular at Christmas.

The Erzgebirge flower children make a wonderful collectible. They hold their value if you ever decide to sell them. They take up very little space. A collection is easily liquidated or amended. They bring a touch of the garden indoors, and as our cities become more and more populated, they are a reminder of the simple beauty of small flowers, and the importance of preserving it for the younger generation today and of tomorrow.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Uta Wichmann (1935-2009), who first introduced me to these delightful figures, and treasured her collection of "blumenkinder" that over the decades were given with love by her husband, family and friends.

© 2010 Square With Flair™


  1. I have a lot of these figures for sale. If you happen to be interested...