Nutcracker Museum

Bavarian Leavenworth, Washington

November 2016 Newsletter

Betel Cutters

Betel cutters have been known to exist in the Asian societies of India and neighboring countries since 1500.  The designs differ from region to region, and although they are not truly nutcrackers they are included in most collections. 


17th C. Betel Cutter made of iron and bone

This hinged instrument is used to slice the areca nut which is then wrapped in a betel leaf along with lime from seashells.  Other ingredients such as tobacco or spices may be added.  The quid is then placed in the mouth between the gum and the cheek and is left there for hours.   This produces a large amount of red saliva which in turn discolors the user’s lips, gums and teeth, like ‘Bloody Mary’ of the South Pacific stage play and movie. 


18th C. Betel Cutters from Ceylon, Borneo, Indonesia

At one time it was believed that nearly a tenth of the world’s population was addicted to betel chewing.  Today most modern young people have turned away from the habit, especially in the more industrialized areas. 


19th C. India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan

The medicinal qualities of the addictive areca nut is questionable, but it gives a feeling of euphoria, therefore is used by many to ease anxiety or pain.  The betel cutter played a major role in many facets of life such as entertaining, marriage, and the etiquette of the courts.


19th C. Betel cutters from India

The betel cutter may be made of various metals, traditionally the cutting blade is iron.  Today many early cutters are duplicated entirely of brass for the large tourist trade.  Although these all-brass are beautiful, collectors must be careful in their selections.


20th C. India

Arlene Wagner, The Nutcracker Lady

Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum




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Federal ID #91-2143303

A Non-Profit 501(c)3 Organization


Contact Us

735 Front Street
P.O. Box 2212
Leavenworth, WA 98826

(509) 548-4573

Open 7 Days a Week
1:00PM - 5:00PM

Nutcracker Museum Mission Statement:

"To foster and encourage the interest of the general public of the importance of nuts in the diets of humans throughout history and in the evolution of the nutcracker. No other tool or collectible has shown such a wide diversity of material and design as the implements used to crack the hard shell of a nut".

Museum Admission:

Adults  - $5.00  (Ages 17 - 64yrs)
Seniors - $3.50  (Age 65yrs +)
Youth   - $2.00  (Ages 6 - 16yrs)
Child    - FREE   (Ages 0 - 5yrs)
Military & Families - FREE