Friday, April 13, 2018

Vintage German Beeswax Ornaments

       One of my girls purchased these small beeswax ornaments from an estate sale very near our home. These decorations were in a large flat box along with some papers saying they were from Germany. Germans often trimmed their feather trees with beeswax poured into Springerle cookie molds and then painted these with whatever sort of paint they had at hand.

The wax here was dyed brown in order to imitate gingerbread. Then the ornaments were
 painted with trimmings made to imitate almonds, raisins, cloves and icing.
The wax in these ornaments was dyed red and then the carved designs were highlighted
 with gold toned gilding paint.
This hunter dressed from head to toe in German costume holds a rifle and is trimmed in gold
 metallic paint. Many beeswax ornaments like this one are painted with meticulous detail,
particularly if the ornaments is poured with white or ivory wax.
More gingerbread ornaments: Santa, Christmas tree, and star. Springerle molds are
hand-carved for the expressed purpose of shaping gingerbread cookies. So it is only
natural that "wax" gingerbread should be a theme for the production of such pieces.
Red Star of Bethlehem was painted with gilding paints but most of it has worn away.
Beeswax ornaments from Germany often are cast in the traditional red color of
the Christmas holiday.
An ivory colored wax ornament, green leafy cross and gold painted relief work. This decoration may
have been crafted foran Easter egg tree.
Below and above you can see how different crafts peoples interpreted the wax castings from the same mold.
One set is in red with gilded highlights and the other set is cast with white wax and painted naturalistically.
In the past, Germans crafted these very delicate, light weight figures from their Springerle molds for their feather trees.
I have two versions of this same rocking horse. Here is the casting done up with red wax. It is
then washed with a black paint so that the design of the carving may be fully appreciated.
This ornament is two-sided. Some Springerle molds are two sided and some have flat unadorned
 sides with detailed carvings on the front.
I love the tiny details of this molded, wax steam engine!
Here is the second version of the toy rocking horse shown above in red. Here it was poured with white wax
and painted with traditional green and red colors. You can see tiny flecks of gold paint on it's surface; most of
this paint has worn away with handling over the years.
This angel carries tulips and candles. Tulips in early Christian cultures were symbolic of
The Holy Trinity. This is why you will find many old Christmas figures that carry them.
A wax figure of an angel carries two burning candles and she has gilded features.
Tiny wax soldiers dressed in old German uniforms; blue coats, gold buttons and trim, plus rifles,
boots and gold trimmed hats finish off the details.
A jolly St. Nicholas dressed in red and trimmed with gold highlights.
A gilded wax basket holds brilliantly painted flowers in rose, blue and yellow.
A wax pony with a red saddle and gold trimmed mane, hooves, and tail.
A sweet little buro surrounded by flowers and a brilliant sun, may have been cast for an Easter egg tree.
Small, authentic German feather tree candles. These are trimmed with green and red molded wax boarders.
The Virgin Mary holds baby Jesus and she is dressed in a traditional blue headcovering and a white gown.
Her baby wears nothing.
Baby Jesus has a halo and is wrapped elaborately in a blue, red and gilded blanket.
This tiny wax figure has a broken wing, but still plays her merry heart out!
A tiny, red wax angel sports very little of the gilded paint she was once trimmed with.
These three wax ornaments are probably modern.
Wax gingerbread man and woman trimmed with almonds, raisins and colored icing.
My daughter says these versions are a bit spooky and cheerful at the same time?
Wax figures such as these were painted to imitate gingerbread cookies.
A red beeswax Christmas ornament holds a tulip.
A wise man or king carries a flaming candle.
Yet another wise man carries a Christmas candle with a halo surrounding it.
The angles figures here were cast in white wax and then their gowns were painted bright blue.
Their wings and dress details were then gilded. Their hangers are made from gilded twine as well.
This tiny wax rabbit is painted very realistically compared to the other figures in this collection.
 It looks more contemporary to me. Perhaps it was made at a later date?
Small, white beeswax candles are traditional decorations on a German feather tree. These frequently decorated with some sort of molded wax applications in green, red or gold. Included in the photo are the metal clamps used to attach these candles to a feather tree. It is not unusual to find these candles unused in many owner's collections. Often times this is due to the desire for authentic decorations without the addition of authentic candle burning. No one wants to see their home, let alone their antique feather tree go up in flames!
A red beeswax angel plays a horn. She was cast and hand-painted in Germany.
Two more gingerbread stars poured from wax and painted to look like the real thing.


  1. I found these ornaments really interesting. Do you know of any books that discuss the history of such ornaments in the United States? I'm trying to determine whether they would be appropriate for a historic site?

  2. I'm going to refer you to a group called the Golden Glow of Christmas Past. They would know the best books and articles for your historic research. Go to


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