Saturday, June 13, 2015

Echte Wagner advertising card featuring Die Heinzelmännchen

This old advertising card, featuring a group of Heinzelmännchen (brownies or house gnomes) fleeing a house, is just one in a long series of collectible cards published by German company Echte Wagner in the first half of the 20th century. Echte Wagner made margarine, and it made a lot of trade cards. The one shown here is the sixth card in the eighth series of the third album. So, yes, there were many. If you do a Google Image search for Echte Wagner cards, you'll see what I mean. Pictured at right is the cover of the second Echte Wagner album.

There were hundreds of Echte Wagner trading cards, and they were focused on numerous topics, including folklore, transportation, outer space and more.

According to one poster in a forum on
"The Wagner company issued several albums of cards between the wars. Some cards are Liebig-sized, others are smaller. Generally they were in sets of 6 like Liebig although they are usually referred to by the album number. ... The so-called Kaufmannsbilder, which you could translate as merchants cards, i.e. trade cards, were very common in Germany pre-ww1. Larger companies produced their own. Smaller companies could have their names printed on 'generic' cards. Individual retailers could buy blank cards and apply their rubber stamp to them. ...

Wagner issued:
1928 Album 1 180 cards
1929 Album 2 216 cards
1931 Album 3 216 cards
1932 Album 4 "Aus Forst und Flur" 240 cards
1932 Album 5 "Wilde Tiere in ihrer Heimat" 240 cards
1932 Wagner's Märchenbuch 24 cards

They also issued some albums post-war in 1951
Schelme und Narren 96 cards
Deutsches Denken und Schaffen 96 cards
Wer lacht mit, lustiges Sprichwörterbuch 144 cards
Abenteurer und Entdecker 1 96 cards
Abenteurer und Entdecker 2 96 card"
So, this Die Heinzelmännchen card was just one of 216 published in 1931.

There's a short story on the back of the card, in German. The title is Die Heinzelmännchen kommen nicht wieder, which translates to "The brownies will not come back."

According to Wikipedia:
"The Heinzelmännchen are a race of creatures appearing in a tale connected with the city of Cologne in Germany. The little house gnomes are said to have done all the work of the citizens of Cologne during the night, so that the inhabitants of Cologne could be very lazy during the day. According to the legend, this went on until a tailor's wife got so curious to see the gnomes that she scattered peas onto the floor of the workshop to make the gnomes slip and fall. The gnomes, being infuriated, disappeared and never returned. From that time on, the citizens of Cologne had to do all their work by themselves."
So that's clearly what has happened in the illustration on this card, as the woman has spread peas all over the floor, bringing an end to the good times for Cologne.

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