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Apfelweibla, A Famous Door Knob and Mouth Blown Glass Ornaments - A strange Combination!
“What on earth is that all about?” is what went through my mind when I spied a mannequin in an antique shop only clad with two small metal plates with a funny face on each. When I approached for a closer look I noticed a whole tray of these same small metal face plates for sale. The sign with the explanation was only in German so I left baffled.
I was in Bamberg Germany en route to visit a supplier and stopped in the small city because I had seen pictures on Instagram that had impressed me. I was also there to check out the new Inge-Glas retail shop in the Altstadt (old city). I walked
into the shop and was greeted by the two lovely women working there that day. As I looked around at the myriad of fabulous glass ornaments what did I see but an ornament that looked exactly like those strange metal plates with the face. Fortunately for me the women at the shop spoke English and were able to explain the significance.
The ornament is a replica of a famous door knob in Bamberg. The face on the knob is that of an old woman who is known as the "Apfelweibla" or "Little Apple Woman". The story in which the Apfelweibla appears is called “The Golden Pot” which was written by E.T.A. Hoffmann. And why does that name sound familiar? He’s the guy that wrote the story upon which
Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet is based. The Golden Pot is a rather complicated and intriguing fairy tale that you can read more about in Wikipedia (The Golden Pot).
The story behind the story is that Hoffmann’s good friend Carl Friedrich Kunz lived in the house and it was his door that had this fanciful knob (I noticed as I walked the streets of the old part of the city that many houses had unusual door knobs). Kunz was a wine merchant and supposedly Hoffmann was a wine lover. Perhaps a couple of glasses of wine helped the unusual door knob come to life in Hoffmann's imagination?
The women at the ornament shop told me the story and gave me instructions as to how to find the door knob in the city. Following their map I found address Eisgrube 14 and there it was! It is actually not the original knob - the original (probably from about 1720 is on display at the Bamberg Historical Museum).
I took pictures of the door and the knob and was wishing I could somehow get a picture of me (and my new ornament as I had purchased an Apfelweibla ornament before I left the shop) in front of the door. But it was a quiet street on a quiet day and I was about to give up hope. But...
All of the sudden a Mom came walking down the street with her son. And I (using one of the few German words I know) said “entschuldigung” (excuse me) and asked her to take a picture of me in front of the door. She obliged and then she said “entschuldigung” to me explaining this was her house and she needed to get past me to get in!
It all seemed like so serendipitous and delightful that I just had to walk back to tell my new friends at the Inge-Glas Ornaments shop the rest of the story. Then I carried on walking the cobbled streets of this gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Centre visiting churches built up to a thousand years ago and tasting the local specialty Smoked Beer.
The Apfelweibla ornament is available only in the city of Bamberg! It is made by the old German company Inge-Glas that has its manufactory about 70 km north of Bamberg. Each glass ornament is mouth blown by the artisans at Inge-Glas and is treated with a sterling silver interior so that the hand painted finish shines brightly. The little star-shaped crown is the trademark of Inge-Glas. Read about y visit to Inge-Glas in my next Blog or check out videos and pictures of my visit on Facebook or Instagram. And see our whole Collection of Glass Ornaments by clicking here.
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