Nutcracker Museum

Bavarian Leavenworth, Washington

September 2016 Newsletter


What a pleasure it was to spend several hours with Helgard Petersen at her home in Germany!!  We have known her for many years, and entertained her here in Washington for a signing in 1992.  Such a lovely lady she is, and you can tell by her nutcrackers that she is very creative with a superb sense of design.  Helgard always painted with Paul’s designs in mind, but her inspiration came from fantasy.


Paul Petersen served in the German Army station in Norway.  With no action, the soldiers were offered classes in handicrafts.  Here Paul made his first nutcracker, and this nutcracker now resides in the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum for the delight of the many Americans who collected Petersens.


After the war Paul made nutcrackers in a different style using raffia from brushes and brooms for the hair and beard.  His design had an inset nose and ears, and a lever with shape and position that does not smash the fingers when a nut is cracked.


Later he made nutcrackers and sold them to the American servicemen stationed in Germany. His first wife, Charlotte, helped with the painting, and these are identified by their big eyes and fierce looking curled eyebrows.  Raffia was replaced with a special lambs wool from Tuscanny.


After Charlotte’s untimely death, Paul hired Helgard Handrik to paint for him and later the two were married.  As Petersen Design, they displayed at the Frankfurt fairs.  Retailers from the U.S. purchased their nutcrackers and introduced them to discerning American collectors. (This picture is from the 80’s)


The ‘King’ and ‘Ivan’ are the two most popular of the Petersen Design line.  Ivan with the round ball atop a pointed hat measures 15”.  The King has been made in 3 sizes: 11”, 24”, and 4 were made measuring  6’ tall.  One of these giant nutcrackers now resides in the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum.


The ‘Old Style’ has a flat hat and is about 10 inches tall.  This is Helgard’s favorite.  The ‘Little Nut Men’ have round noses, rounded hats, and are about 11 inches tall.


‘Cracker Max’ has a tall hat and round nose, and measures a little over 11 inches tall, and the ‘Cylinder Shape’ uses only round balls for arms.


The ‘Weight Lifter’ designed and painted by Paul measures 12” with weights.  Of all the Petersen designs, this unique nutcracker has been the hardest to find.


Arlene Wagner, The Nutcracker Lady

Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum




Would you like to receive our monthly newsletter by email in your Inbox?  (We will never spam or give out your information)

Sign Up Today!

* required


Email & Social Media Marketing by VerticalResponse

Do you need to unsubscribe to our monthly email newsletter? We hate to lose you, but we understand.  (We will never spam or give out your information)

There will be a link at the bottom of your next newsletter you receive. Simply click on the unsubscribe link and you will be automatically removed from any future mailings.

Quick Links

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)
Active Military - FREE (Spouse & Children Free with ID)