Tuesday, April 2, 2013

And March Goes Out Like a (Wagner) Lamb

OK, technically it's now April, but this is the follow-up post to my one about Wagner lions and March roaring in like a lion!

Which truly has happened in my neck of the woods...the last weekend in March has been full of fluffy, woolly clouds in a brilliant blue sky and sheep-like flocks of blossoming cherry trees.

The Wagner company was certainly fond of sheep.

That's good news for people who like to set up Christmas village putz displays, Nativity scenes, and Easter scenes.

And though sheep are THE image for depicting mass, anonymous, unthinking obeisance, the Wagner crafters always  managed to imbue each sheep with its own little personality because of each piece being hand-painted and hand-crafted.

The standard sheep is the typical Wagner animal that's just shy of 3 inches tall or so. Most of the sheep have a vinyl collar held in place with a silver pin. The collar is typically green or red.

Newer ones often lacked the collar, but seemed to have somewhat chunkier bodies.

The typical sheep are colored either white or beige. Old sheep are often rather grubby, either from  handling or from dust or both.

Black sheep are rare. They don't show the dirt, but they have their own problems. Baa, baa, black sheep! Have you any lint?

Wagner also made sheep in other positions, such as the head-down variety...

and the lying-down variety (shown here in two sizes).

Wagner also made little lambs. These didn't have glasslike bead eyes but just painted-on ones. Personally, I don't like the look this gives them...just don't seem as personable to me.

Wagner didn't want the ewes to be lonely, so the crafters also made rams.

Here are two rams, one with bead eyes and one without. Don't know why,  how often, or when they  made the switch.

The ram also came in a super-sized form. Kind of cool but not my favorite piece...I guess the fabric wrapped around the body, instead of flocking, makes him kind of generic, plus he's got such ostentatiously plastic horns.

Probably all that plastic made him an easy one to copy; here's a vintage piece, a knockoff with its own kooky charm.

"Boo! Boo! Creepy sheep! Have you any ghoul?"


  1. I keep up with your posts. Very interesting and informative. I had no idea they made so many sheep. The rams are so nice! All my animals hang on a little Christmas tree that I will probably post on my blog next year. Most of my animals came with a red hanging cord to be used as ornaments. Some of them are just sitting animals. If you would like to see photos of the animals I have, just e-mail me and I'll send them to you. I'm happy to share.

    1. Hello, Sherri! I'm planning at the suggestion of one reader to set up a Flickr site so we can all share photos. And then they can be put on here too. How can I find your blog? Just by clicking your name? I'll try that :)

  2. Just click on my name that should get you there OR


  3. Very charming with the floppy little ears! Speaking of lint, do you have any tips for cleaning Wagner animals?

    1. Hi Janna,
      Well...I sure know NOT how to clean 'em...based on various accidents! As a kid I tried to doozy up a white horse with Tame creme rinse, believing the ads about the product...all it did was make my horse's tail fall off and her hindquarters turn pink. Oy vey.

      Water as you might guess is not good at all for flocking (not that I ever tried it, except by accident; I once filled a vase with water and was very surprised when two Wagner mice bobbed to the top and fell out...I'd forgotten I dropped them in the vase to get them away from my cats).

      To be honest, I've never tried to seriously clean up any Wagner animals--but I think a soft toothbrush would probably work well to get lint off them. It's just not a task I've set aside time for.

      Tape lightly daubed over the surface gets lint off, too.

      I don't know how to get real grubbiness out of flocking--suggestions welcome. It's tricky stuff as any scrubbing or cleaner tends to make the flocking come off. I once reflocked some truly grimy white animals but they didn't regain their even Wagner-applied flocking, they looked lumpy. I wonder if a cleaner used on Steiff animals would work or if there is some non-liquid agent that could be used.