Belsnickel is part of the Christmas lore of Germany, other German-speaking countries and the Pennsylvania Dutch, a community in the United States since the 1830s. He is a companion of Saint Nicholas, but while Santa carries a bag of gifts for good children, Belsnickel spreads candy for good children then beats the bad children with his whip. Today’s Santa Claus is fat and jolly, and dressed in a red and white outfit. Belsnickel wears a ragged beige coat with a rope belt and a fur collar.
Collectors of antique Christmas decorations look for old ornaments and figurines of Belsnickel used in the 19th century. They are often made of papier-mache. He has a long tongue and carries a sack of candy in one hand and a whip in the other. Christmas legends in the 19th century included other dark characters, including Krampus.
This antique German Belsnickel with a painted face and white beard is wearing a hooded white robe. It was auctioned at Cordier Auctions in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The unsigned figure sold for $168.
Q: I have a bust of Madonna holding baby Jesus, which is marked “Goldscheider” over a large letter “G,” with “U.S.A.” underneath the letter. Below that, it has the copyright symbol and “American Goldscheider Corp.” What’s it worth?
A: Frederick Goldscheider started a porcelain factory in Vienna in 1885. When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, the factory was taken over by the Nazi regime. Frederick’s son, Walter, immigrated to the United States in 1940 and founded Goldscheider-U.S.A. in Trenton, New Jersey. The company became Goldscheider-Everlast Corp. in 1941. From 1947 to 1953, it was Goldcrest Ceramics Corp. The Goldscheider factory in Vienna was returned to the family in 1950. The business in America, now called Goldscheider of Vienna, is a wholesaler of religious statuary, including Madonnas that are imported from Italy. Your bust probably was made in 1940, before the company changed its name. Value depends on the size. Medium-size busts of Madonna sell for about $125.
Icon, silver, Mary in red robe, holding Jesus, halos, high relief borders, 7 1/2 x 6 inches, $225.
Christmas tree, stainless aluminum, silvered finish, 91 branches, tripod stand, in original box with tubes for branches, Evergleam, 1960s, 72 inches, $240.
Judaica, menorah, golden gate, scripture, swiveling arms, dove, marble base, Frank Meisler, 11 x 15 1/2 inches, $1,375.
Santa Claus lamp, figural, red robe, mound of snow, glass, opalescent, nutmeg burner, Consolidated Lamp & Glass Co., c. 1894, 9 1/2 inches, $3,240.
TIP: Dust glass Christmas ornaments with a feather duster.
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