Originally from Austria, the Steinbach family dates back to Erwin Steinbach, the famous architect and master builder who became Munster in Strasburg in 1284. Through a series of wars, the Steinbach family, which included architects, builders, salesmen, judges, politicians, clothiers and military men, were forced to relocate several times. The story states "If one does not work hard to earn the heritage, one will perish in the end or at best hold the stirrup for those who are on their way up".
The Steinbach family found themselves in Erzebirge, Germany were mining was the main occupation. Mining naturally developed because of the rich deposits of silver, iron, tin and nickel but also because of the huge abundance of timber needed to support the ceilings of the mines. Erzebirge was named by combining Erz (meaning ore) and Berg (meaning mountain). Mountain streams provided a resource for producing power required for the pumps in the mines and for the mechanical equipment needed to remove the remaining ore.
As the once limitless supply of metal depleted the working families were forced to turn to other professions. Woodworking was a logical choice for many miners who were gifted wood- carvers. Many miners carved items for practical use, then began to master the art of ornament carving and the modeling of wooden figures. Over the years a cottage industry was formed with men carving the wood and women painting it. In the 11th century in northern Europe, wood- carving thrived, supported by church patronage, wealthy merchants and private patrons.
The Steinbach family started their business by purchasing a timber yard and operating a wood sawmill run by steam and eventually began making nutcrackers and other fine wood products. For most of two centuries and through seven generations, the Steinbach Family has been working, planting and harvesting the finest wood from old, strong trees in the forests of Germany. The Erzgebirge region of Germany has for many years, produced some of the most beautiful wooden items in the world. Always remaining true to the making of products, the Steinbach's continue to be masters of their craft.
The Steinbach Company ( Steinbach GmbH- Vereinigte Werkstaetten Deutscher Volkskunst) contains two plants; the older of the two is in Hohenhamein (a small town in Northern Germany) and in Marienburg (a small town in the heart of Erzgebirge). The company was originally located in Erzgebirge but they left due to Soviet control after World War II. When Communism came to an end in Europe, Herr Steinbach built a factory in Marienburg.
Under Herr Steinbach the company saw much growth and expansion. He widened the range of the nutcrackers that where developed, in the past the nutcrackers where mostly carvings of authorities from the 18th and 19th centuries (such as policemen, kings and soldiers). Herr Steinbach began to create nutcrackers that portrayed famous legends and characters, coming from art, literature and folklore and from the all over the world.
Steinbach's resourcefulness and outstandingly high standards helped his nutcrackers become world famous. Another key factor came into play, Herr Steinbach began to limit the amount of nutcrackers that where being produced. In doing this, he made his nutcrackers more interesting and special. Herr Steinbach deserves personal credit for each of the nutcrackers success, for he traveled and participated in signing events all over, promoting his unique nutcrackers.
Herr Steinbach's daughter, Dipl.-Ing. Karla Steinbach was born on November 23, 1957 in Kirchberg, Saxonia, were she lived until 1990. Kirchberg, Saxonia is in the Eastern part of Germany. Her profession there was a Statiker (an Engineer specially trained in Statics), giving her the title Dipl.-Ing. (this title is the American equivalent of a Masters Degree).
Due to the events occurring in Germany in the 1990's Karla was able to begin her work for the company by being the General Manager as Herr Steinbach went on the signing tours throughout the entire U.S. Herr Steinbach enjoyed seeing his beloved fans and the owners of the shops while promoting the Steinbach brand.
Herr Christian Steinbach passed away in February 2007. During his many years as the president of Steinbach, he made the company one of the most successful in Erzgebirge, Germany. Those who worked with him, his family and nutcracker enthusiasts the world over will never forget Herr Steinbach.
Today, Karla is the owner of the Steinbach Company and still can not believe that she is the lead designer of all the beautiful collectibles and nutcrackers that the factory produces. Karla continues to work on their new designs, so you can be sure, that the Steinbach Company will be turning out a beautiful line for many years to come.
Karla's two children, Karolin (born 1983) and Christian (born 1985) have already began to help out in the factory. Karolin currently holds the degree of Dipl.-Ing. much like Karla. On April 1, 2008 Karolin became the General Manager in the Steinbach Company. Karla and Karolin, as always will participate in the signing events. They are both looking forward to meeting their best collectors and friends.