Paper soldiers were a popular children’s entertainment or decoration beginning in the 1700s, rising to a height of popularity in the mid-19th century, before all but dying out after the Second World War. This small collection typifies the range of materials on offer from the late 1800s into the post First World War period from German printers (two of the companies were in Germany, the third was in the Alsace region, which at the time was under the rule of the German Kaiser). Some are printed on heavy card (soldaten auf karton, eg. item 1) while others on thin newsprint. There are examples of a number of styles, including simple cut-outs, others that could be glued together to create three-dimensional landscapes and objects, as well as black and white images for children to colour (eg. item 13). There is also one example of the scheibenbilder (target picture) style (item 16). German is always the first language on the sheets, but many included French and English, and some Italian and Spanish, showing the world-wide market for the material.
The Carl Joseph Scholz company of Mainz (founded 1793 and still in existence as of 2015) has a long history in both the printing industry and paper soldier manufacture. At one point their distribution of toy soldiers went as far East as Russian, and west to Great Britain and North America. The company stayed in the Scholz family at least until the Second World War.
Hohenstein & Lange operated in Berlin from 1876-1906. In 1898 the company became a joint-stock company and the inclusion of Druck und Verlag, Aktiengesellschaft Berliner Luzuspapier-fabrik vorm Hohenstein & Lang on item 11, date it to this later period.
There have been many iterations of Carl Burckardt’s original company, but they all maintained a variation of the name. The paper soldiers in this collection are all printed under the Druck u. Verlag v. C. Burckardt Nacht in Weissenburg (Elsass) imprint, which existed from 1890-1906.