I wanted to share with you a recent find! I was beyond excited when I came across this little fellow at a recent antique show here in New York.
Made in Germany around 1900, this Santa on reindeer was made as a holiday toy for some lucky child. Metal wheels and an oil cloth rein allowed the child to pull the reindeer as though it was helping Santa deliver gifts to all who were good!
The deer itself has a compostion body, glass eyes, oil cloth dressage, felt and Dresden trimmed saddle and lead antlers. He is covered in a realistically colored flannel with painted hooves and a nose.
The Santa Claus is attached and bears a feather tree twig in his right hand. Faded blue pants and a snow dusted red coat and hood keep him warm on his long winter journey. His face, hands and boots are composition. His beard is rabbit fur. My biggest criteria for purchasing any antique is, first and foremost, condition. When it comes to Santa's the second most important criteria is the expression. In this case, both the reindeer and the Santa have the most winsome expressions! A small handwoven basket is carried upon Santa's back to hold all of the toys yet to be delivered.
Overall, about 11" high and 10" in length.
Should you come across something like this Santa Claus, there are a few things to remember as the market is being flooded by some very good reproductions.
-Lift small areas of the coat or fabric pants. Oftentimes, there should be a richer color in the folds where the light has not had a chance to fade the material.
-Rabbit fur, goat hair and the like become dry and brittle with age and tend to shed their fur. As seen in this example, all that is left is the hide. This in no way detracts from the value and is a good clue as to age.
-The composition faces, hands and boots are often crazed with fine lines. Fine lines are alright and, again, don't detract from the value. What you want to watch for is large flaking or separating of the paint from the composition. This is a condition that is irreversible and will get worse over time.
-Finally, look for a country of origin mark. Many times "Germany" will be stamped on an inconspicuous area. While not a guarantee of age or authenticity, it is again a small idicator in the larger whole.
Happy hunting and feel free to share your finds in the feedback section. Happy Holidays!