These early Santas were made of paper mache, with clothing of wool felt that was vegetable dyed. Some had mica on their coat and hood which simulates snow. A number of them are candy containers and separate at the waist, revealing a cardboard cylinder in which the candies were placed. In addition, sometimes the Santa would carry a bag or hold a tree with early glass ornaments.
The photo on the right shows an early German Santa riding a clockwork nodder donkey. Santa has an unusual hip length coat and holds part of an early feather tree with a piece of an old candle holder and carries a bag. These figures were often used in department store windows to attract shoppers. This stunning piece was recently sold to a very lucky collector at Bertoia Auctions in Vineland, NJ.
The closeup of the Santa face embodies all the details of the beauty of the paper mache face and artistry of the German masters. He has a long wool felt cap and goat beard. He has a short coat and his clothes are vegetable dyed. Note the details of the eyebrows and all the painting around the eyes. He is pictured with a popular paper mache and wood sheep from Germany. He dates from around 1912-19.
Chalkware Santas (pictured) are often seen and have become a collectible category of their own. Chalkware santas do not command the prices of older, German-made composite Santas and are a great collecting category of vintage Santas for both beginning and seasoned collectors.