Mary Morrison's German Snow Babies
Old German Snow Babies
If you get your snow baby history from ebay or from some of the popular magazines, you might think that snow baby production started sometime in the mid-eighteen hundreds. I often wonder where such notions come from. When I began writing about German snow babies, I scoured libraries, looked through mountains of old magazines, and generally made a nuisance of myself to doll museum people. The result was that the very earliest documentation I could find for white-snow snow babies was just a little before 1910. I would be very happy to have some evidence of earlier snow babies. The Galluba blue-snow figures were probably a little earlier. I have dated them by fitting their incised numbers between the numbers of other Galluba figures that have been accurately dated. This could prove to be wrong, but so far it seems accurate.
The pre-WWI snow babies are usually quite beautiful and also quite stationary. They have a serene or tranquil quality about them. The paint was carefully applied, and then the piece was put back into the kiln for another firing, making the paint more or less permanent. In that sense, they were made to last -- to be reused year after year on mantle pieces, cakes, or as table decorations. The dividing line between the production of "old" and "newer" snow babies, is about 1912 to 1922, and it is usually easy to determine if a piece was made before or after the War.
Snow baby production stopped for perhaps as long as ten to fifteen years around the time of that War. When the new snow babies came to market, they were very different in style and production. They were more fanciful, and the figures were often active. They were brighter in color and sometimes humorous. In addition, a different kind of paint was used. It was a paint that was applied but never fired. This saved an entire, expensive step. However, the paint was not waterproof, and was very easily damaged. Obviously the manufacturers were not intending these pieces to be long lasting.
A few years before WWII came the end of snow baby production in Germany, although there was at least one factory in West Germany that began producing unsnowed pieces using some of the same poses and perhaps some of the same molds as the later pieces. This factory belonged to a man named Röhring. The pieces were finished with an enamel paint and have a glossy look to them.