Beyond visions of sugar plum fairies and wooden men with white beards, the nutcrackers featured in The Art and Character of Nutcrackers are elegant, sophisticated, rustic pieces of useable art steeped in history and tradition. Beautifully photographed, rare, and valuable, these nutcrackers from around the world are collected and celebrated in one place for the first time ever. What began as an innocent purchase during a production of the Nutcracker Ballet has blossomed into a world-renowned collection almost 40 years in the making. Arlene Wagner (also known as The Nutcracker Lady) and her husband have amassed more than 5,000 pieces. Housed in the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, which is also a National Heritage Foundation site, the Wagner's collection is on display to the public. A status sign for royalty and the wealthy in sixteenth-century Europe, delicately carved, ornate pieces were intended more for show than for function, while simple, sturdy designs reflect the basic utilitarian nature of nutcrackers. Collectors and average folks alike will appreciate the beauty of the book and its subject.