|• Mayor||Heinz Seidler|
|• Total||12.43 km2 (4.80 sq mi)|
|Elevation||650 m (2,130 ft)|
|• Density||190/km2 (490/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
The town of Seiffen is located in the district of Erzgebirgskreis, which is the south-center of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. The earliest record of the town is from 1324 when it was referred to as "Cynsifen".
Seiffen sits in the heart of the Erzgebirge, or the Ore Mountains, which are famous for many Christmas traditions. As the silver and tin deposits declined, former miners had to look for new ways to feed their families. In addition to lace making and weaving, the inhabitants went into wood carving. Nutcrackers, "smoking men", "pyramids" (carousels with figures of the Christmas story or from mining) and Schwibbogen (wooden arcs with candles in the windows, symbolising the opening of a mine) are some of many Christmas goods made in the Ore Mountains. Seiffen is a centre of the wooden toy industry.
The history of Seiffen started when miners opened up the district 700 years ago. With the recession of ore-mining in the area, Seiffen turned to wooden toy manufacture as a matter of economic survival. In 1699, Seiffen resident Johann Friedrich Hiemann took Seiffen toys to market at Nuremberg. Nuremberg was a toy distribution market for much of Europe at that time. Seiffen was able to break into this large toy market due to two factors. First, the low cost of living and economic depression in the Erzgebirge allowed prices much lower than the rest of European toy manufacturers selling at the Nuremberg market. Second, the high quality of toys being produced in Seiffen.
A major development in toy manufacturing got its start in the Erzgebirge, and came in the form of the Hoop Turning or Gap Ring. This method, usually used for making wooden animals, allowed for greater accuracy and quality in much less time than it took to hand carve the entire piece. In 1890, an export tax was changed from being based on value, to weight. This meant that wooden toys were now much more expensive to buy anywhere but the German state of Saxony. Undaunted, the Seiffen toy makers developed the Miniature in a Matchbox. This ornament sized toy was very small, so it could be exported cheaply. It also used many parts and is very detailed. The Ore Mountain Toy Museum is an internationally known toy museum that displays a large collection of typical Ore Mountain wooden toys and similar items.
Media related to Seiffen at Wikimedia Commons
- Seiffen Homepage (German)
- Seiffen Toy Museum
- German Toy Town - article
- Webcam portal with various town views and weather images of Seiffen (German)