Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's Groundhog Day! Well, it is on this blog.

OK, so I meant to launch this little Wagner Handwork (Kunstlerschutz) animal website on Groundhog Day. But I saw my shadow and retreated to my burrow instead.

However, having gotten over the horror of the aforementioned shadow, I've crept back out, and despite what the calendar says I'm going to feature the Wagner version of a groundhog as the first critter.

He's known as a groundhog (or woodchuck, or whistlepig) here in the United States, though it's unlikely that his creators called him that: they probably called this piece a marmot.

North America and Europe are home to various species of marmots (which are ground squirrels). The groundhog is one of several marmot species found in the United States.

In Europe, hedgehogs were traditionally the weather forecasters, but immigrants to the United States didn't find those prickly creatures here, so they substituted the groundhog. 

Because Wagner animals were handmade, each individual animal has its own appearance (sometimes quite a quirky one). 

In many Wagner species, however, it's easy to see a general trend as the piece evolved over the decades. The groundhog, for example, seems to start out portly and over time got a bit taller and leaner.

I would say, "That's odd," except it's already pretty odd to be taking pictures of small flocked animals and comparing them, so I'm not one to talk. However, it is surprising that some of the marmots seem to have an important marmotty part missing:
"No fair! How come he's got whiskers, and I don't?"


  1. What fun! Do you know anything about labels? I have several animals. Some labels say Germany and others say West Germany. Thank you! I look forward to future posts.

    From F O X

  2. I just found this information on another site:
    Labels that say Handwork Kunstlerschutz West Germany date the animal as having been made between 1966 and 1983; Wagner Handwork West Germany indicates it was made between 1983 and 1990; Wagner Handwork Germany means 1990-1998.

    WIll there be a mechanism where friends of the page can post photos of their collections?

  3. Do I know anything about labels :) Yep, I sure do! The Wagner family kindly sent me a sheet of labels with years attached. I'll put all the details in a future post, but the quick answer is if it says Germany, it was made after 1990 (when East and West Germany were reunited into just Germany). West Germany indicates it was made before 1990. They started production in about 1948, well after the end of WWII and the partition of Germany.

    1. Hi! I was wondering if that post showing the labels/information on dates will be coming soon?
      Did the family perhaps give you a list of all the animals they made?
      ...you know...since you seem to be the person with the most access to the history etc.
      maybe you should write a book!
      I know I'd buy it :)

    2. Oh, gosh, yes, I should try and get that done, shouldn't I! Yikes! :) Alas, they didn't give me a list of every animal they ever made...though they did send me a list of what stock was left, which was extensive, and an old sales flyer. About the book--I did write a book several years ago with another collector, but we only were able to print 50 copies and they are long gone...however perhaps someday we will be able to issue it as an ebook. Thanks for asking!

    3. Hi! Are you currently selling some of your animals on ebay as "cfbiff"? Just curious, because that person says they purchased some of the ones they are listing direct from the company.(if that is you) It would be great if you could give me a heads up when you are about to list more...LOL!

      I would be interested in the ebook...keep us posted!

    4. Hello! Nope, that is not me, but rest assured that I have bought animals from cfbiff in the past, and she is a totally reliable seller and did indeed purchase animals directly from the company when they retired, prior to my sleuthing them out and buying some from them.

      And if we ever do an ebook version of our publication I will be sure to announce it here! Thanks for your interest!

  4. Hello, Anonymous! LOL, that's my writing, actually--somebody copied it and pasted it into their website without attribution, apparently! Thanks for putting it here. I'd planned to add a page with label pictures along with this information.

    Photo-wise--I should look into setting up a Flickr page for people to upload pix to, then I could copy and paste them here once they've given permission for me to do so.

  5. Hello Christina. Please join us on Facebook group!
    Laurie T.

  6. Congratulations on the blog! Charming and informative as all your material. I plan to visit you regularly.