Archive for December, 2004

Chinese pirates batter German toys

Volker Flath’s workshops are a hive of Christmas activity. In one corner, he turns out Christmas trees that are each just a few centimetres tall, while nearby a colleague works on a noisy lathe producing parts for a Christmas pyramid.

Elsewhere, an employee sits furiously painting hundreds of Santa Claus figures in minute detail.

It is like this every year for the woodcarvers of Seiffen, a village of just 2,000 people, which has around 100 producers of wooden toys and ornaments.

“We’ve got three generations working in our business,” says Mr Flath.

“My father still works here, I do, and my son is an apprentice. The training period lasts three years.”

Seiffen has been home to the woodcarving industry since the tin mines were exhausted in the 18th Century.

Now though, the tradition is coming under threat from cheap Chinese imitations.

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