German Nutcrackers in the shape of Soldiers or Kings have been in use since the 15th century! The unsmiling figures are thought to be lucky, and provide protection for the household as they stand sentry on the mantle.
A “good” Nutcracker could be made from up to 130 carefully assembled pieces! Originally, the jaws were strong enough to crack walnuts. Today’s Nutcrackers are more decorative