The story of German wooden doll-making can be broken down into three phases. Crèche dolls, proper wooden dolls and Grodnertal dolls.
Crèche dolls are Catholic religious figurines that are most commonly associated with Italy for obvious reasons. However Germany has a strong and vibrant Crèche doll tradition as well. What separates a crèche doll from other religious figures is what they represent. A crèche doll is limited to the holy family and the birth of Jesus. When most people see one of these dolls they are usually part of elaborate nativity scenes.
As much of their doll-making resources were prescribed to religious figures the Germans fell behind others in mass produced general purpose wooden models. However because both are carved wooden models they were able to adapt rather quickly. In typical German fashion they closed the gap with quality and attention to detail.
Compared to their English counterparts the German models were made of higher quality materials and had better crafted features. By meticulously constructing the joints these dolls lasted longer and the overlay painting were of much finer detail.
Grodnertals are named for the valley from which many of them came. These dolls were signified by being of very high quality and became so desirable they were eventually exported around the western world including the United States.