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Dear lovers of the Ore Mountains folk art,

there are some regions where wooden toys have been produced for many generations. Nevertheless the „Erzgebirge“ region is one of the best known to this day because of its tremendous diversity of products.

Not only the extensive range of wooden toys is known beyond Germany, but also the „Erzgebirgische“  Christmas tradition, which was devoloped during the 19th century.

Light-bearing, candlestick figures like the miner and angel as well as the smokers, nutcrackers, pyramids, ceiling chandeliers, „Weihnachtsberge“ and also the well known „Schwibbogen“ have been vastly produced as early as the 19th century.

The creativity and craftsmanship of the common people is impressive. Often they became toy manufactureres, turners, carvers or painters because they were destitute.

The poverty of the population in the Erzgebirge region in the 19th century up to the beginning of the 20th century has been described in numerous historical documents, as can be read, for instance, in a toy catalog from the Chemnitzer „Sammellager Erzgebirgischer Erzeuger“ (consolidation warehouse of all the producers in the Ore mountains) from 1925:

„GOOD LOOK! is the greeting of the man of the Ore Mountains in remembrance of his ancestors who were miners. The treasures of the mines have come to an end, but new treasures have arisen in the Toys of the Ore Mountains.- These little works of art have been born, not in the narrow walls of a stuffy factory, but in the fresh mountain air; for this reason they are so immeasurably beautiful. With their fresh bright colors, simple pleasing form, not far-fetched yet artistic, they rejoice the hearts of little children.- The carver of the Ore Mountains is a poor man. His cottage is small, his field stony, and early snow with a long winter often spoil his harvest for him. His fortune lies in his turning-lathe and his skilful fingers. Father and mother, grandchildren and grandparents, all paint, carve, turn, and thus results through the many hands of the family, big and little, young and old, the toy from the Ore Mountains.“

Fortunately these testimonies of the traditional craftsmanship have been preserved over many generations. Many old pieces from the 19th century have become sought after collector´s items.

Unfortunately, the use over many years has left its traces on those old items. The people loved to repaint, modernize, or electrify them.

Rarely do those old objects exist in their original condition. Often several layers of paint have to be removed to uncover the original first painting.

Before a restoration can be started a precise inventory has to be made. Condition, period of production, and the identification of the regional manufacturer should be precisely analyzed. The decision if and how an object is to be restored is extremely difficult.

A restoration of the original condition or the preservation of the still intact substance should be the goal of every restoration. The use of color pigments, organic binding agents, layers of chalk and shellac coatings which have been used at that time is taken for granted. Although a restoration is very time consuming, it is worth the effort because it helps to preserve our cultural heritage.

Let us also respect and preserve the cultural objects of our ancestors in the future.