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

Instructions for sending photographs of your pieces with your question.

What American glass company produced more art glass than any other?

Mount Washington Glass
Boston & Sandwich Glass Co.
The New England Glass Co.
                     To see the answer

The Legend of Bohemian Glass:
A Thousand Years of Glassmaking in the Heart of Europe

by Antonin Langhamer

This book offers a comprehensive overview of the history and traditions of Czech art glass. Divided into 12 chapters, the book details the evolution and development of glassmaking as an art form from the earliest times, when the first glass beads appeared in central Europe, to the present.
More Books


The Art Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany

This video introduces the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, highlighting the expansive range of artistic objects created during his career. It also showcases Tiffany Studios' Favrile glass and provides an historical look at the life of Tiffany.

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 Fall Edition

of the



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

Expand your antiques experience.

Look for videos
in various

Just click on the
arrow to play.

Featured Antique

Bohemian Tango Cordial Set

It's Snowing Babies!


Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated by the little white porcelain figurines called “snow babies.” My mother had a number of them and would place them on the mantel above the fireplace nestled in a bed of fresh pine and holly. I can still remember handing them to her since I was too short to reach the mantel. What can you tell me about snow babies? How long have they been around? Are they collectible? If so, I’d like to start my own collection.



Believe it or not, snow babies have been around since the early 1890s. And, yes, they are very collectible. However, over the decades a number of different ones have been produced, not all of which are authentic. So unfortunately, it’s buyer beware.

Snow babies are small figurines, usually of a child, depicting a Christmas or winter sports activity. Like Hummel figurines, they emphasize the nostalgia of childhood and days gone by. But unlike Hummels, their manufacture wasn’t tightly controlled.

Since their introduction in the last decade of the 19th century, snow babies have enchanted collectors all over the world, especially during the holidays. They’re made of unglazed porcelain, also known as bisque, and show a children dressed in one-piece, hooded snowsuits covered in small pieces of hand-whipped crushed porcelain bisque, giving the appearance of fallen snowflakes.

The idea for snow babies evolved from early 19th-century German candy cake toppers, called tannenbaumkanfekt, used to decorate the tops of Christmas cakes and to decorate Christmas trees. Confectioners molded flour, sugar and gum for firmness into little figures, then painted them with vegetable dye. The best loved became known as zuckerpuppes or sugar dolls, which people used, along with igloos and polar bears, to create snow scenes under their Christmas trees. Later, confectioners began making them of marzipan, a mixture of crushed almonds, egg whites and sugar. They were especially popular with confectioners in Lubeck, Germany. One of them, Johann Moll, commissioned Hertwig and Company to re-create these adorable almond paste babies in porcelain bisque. The oldest ones were typically either all white with a painted face or painted in pastel colors.

Hertwig and Company began operation in 1864 in Katzhutte, Thuringia, Germany, making porcelain doll heads and bisque figures. However, the Hertwig snow babies didn’t thrill German children, who naturally preferred the candy version. But their mothers loved them and used them to adorn their trees and homes during the Christmas season. Then they could pack them up and save them safely for another year.

The first snow babies produced by Hertwig were one to two inches tall, but the company also made some five to seven-inch ones. As production increased, Hertwig began creating snow babies in a variety of winter activities, such as sledding, skiing, and tumbling. Eventually, the company’s artists made the figures’ hands and feet more clearly defined, and even gave their little figures shoes. Although babies predominated, Hertwig produced some older children as well.

Because of Hertwig’s success, many other German companies began to produce snow babies, including Wagner and Appel, Galluba and Hoffman, Bahr and Proeschild, Christian Frederick Klurg, and the Huebach Brothers.

In 1893, Josephine Peary, wife of the famous arctic explorer Robert, shocked the world by accompanying her husband to Greenland on his famous expedition to the North Pole, even though she was expecting a child. On September 8, 1893, Marie Ahnighito Peary, the first non-indigenous baby to be born that far north. The native Intuit came for miles to see the white-skinned baby they called her Ah-pooh-nick-ananny, Inuit for snow baby.

In 1901 Mrs. Peary wrote a book showing a photograph of her daughter wearing a white snow suit and called her a “snow baby.” Suddenly, the German-made figures were in high demand. For many years the Nuremburg firm of Craemer and Co. exclusively exported the figures from Germany. In the U.S., Scholl and Company and Westphalia Imports, both of New York, sold them, as well as confectionery and baking suppliers in the German communities of New York, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. They reached their peak of export to the U.S. between 1906 and 1910 as women’s magazines featured them as Christmas decorations.

In 1910, the R. Shackman Company of New York, an importer of fancy goods, toys and novelties, advertised and distributed them at 20 cents each. In 1914, Sears and Roebuck and Marshall Field, who called them “Alaska Tots,” sold them through their catalogs.

Prior to World War I, snow babies had highly detailed faces, with the paint fired onto the porcelain so that the color would be longer lasting. Some figurines had different pastel colors of ground bisque decoration while others were left all white except for painted faces. But then the Great War began and the export of snow babies came to a sudden halt.

When production resumed after the war, snow babies were smaller, usually ranging from one to three inches tall. Although the paint used came in vibrant primary colors, snow babies now had less facial detail than previous models. The paint was also less durable and prone to flaking. Models in more varied poses appeared, including children singing Christmas carols, riding polar bears, and building snowmen.

In the 1920s, Japanese manufacturers began to produce snow baby replicas, though they were generally of a lesser quality than those made in Germany.

The early Depression years brought a final group of snow babies from Germany. People once again used them to create Christmas scenes, as well as for package tie-ons and table decorations. There were babies riding airplanes, playing musical instruments, and riding polar bears. However, these later pieces lacked the detail of early snow babies and were less lovable, so their popularity declined during the 1930s and by the outbreak of World War II, snow baby imports stopped. Here in America, interest in snow babies declined from 1950 to the 1980s. In 1987, an American company, Department 56, began producing replicas of the original snow baby designs and had them made in Taiwan. This helped generate a new interest in them as well as in the early pieces.

Obviously, the most collectible snow babies are those produced before World War I. These generally sell for the highest prices. Any of the German ones are also collectible, but as a beginning collector, you need to be aware of cheaper versions made in Asia.

< Back to Readers Ask Archives                                       Next Article   

Antiques Q&A

Antiques and More on

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