Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The,, Elk...OK, Carireindeerbou of Wagner!

The Wagner crafts workshop liked deer. Oh, my, did they like deer! The craftsmen and craftswomen produced deer in all the Wagner sizes from tiny one-inch critters that could fit inside a glass Christmas bulb to robust animals standing about 8 inches tall. They crafted standing deer, lying deer, running deer, and grazing deer.

Though they're often marketed as reindeer on eBay, most of these deer look more like your average white-tail. Many are peppered with white spots, and so would seem more likely to be fawns (though some species, such as sika deer, are spotted as adults, too).

Some Wagner deer clearly have a beefier look to them, with bigger antlers and thicker barrels; they appear to be elk (also called "wapiti" in North America). These animals can pass for reindeer in a pinch, particularly the gray and white variations.

I assume the latter are an example of the workshop's reuse of a mold with different flocking to produce a new species, just as the same mold was used to produce tigers, leopards, black panthers, and one version of the lioness.

But none of these Wagner deer are actually classic Christmas reindeer; they don't have the bulky bodies, big feet, or the rococo antlers of a reindeer or caribou.

What with Germany's treasure trove of Christmas lore and tradition, it does seem odd that Wagner didn't produce a really, truly reindeer for the American market.

Still, the Wagner deer are happy to pinch-hit for their Arctic cousins--and since most illustrated versions of the Santa story feature giant white-tail fawns as the "eight tiny reindeer," they won't look out of place in your Christmas village scene or on the mantelpiece hauling a sleigh.

And even though this red-nosed variant is decidedly not Rangifer tarandus, he reveals that Wagner did have the American market in mind because they went to great lengths to produce "the most famous reindeer of all"!