Swedish Dala Horse by Nils Olsson
- Vintage item
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The firm of Nils Olsson in Nusnäs in the Swedish heartland has made Dalahästar (Dala horses) since 1922. The Anders brothers began carving the painted wooden horses to add to the family's income. In 1928 they took out a loan to buy a saw (Nils was 15 and Jannes was 13!) and they started a small factory. The brothers' descendants are still in business today, using wood from the surrounding forest to make the horses, each one unique.
This Dala horse is certainly one of the most unusual we've seen. It's very large and flat; it's only 3/8 inch thick and stands on two legs. It is 19 inches long from nose to tail and 20 inches tall from foot to ear. It has a Nils Olsson label on the back as well as some handwriting in black: Gardner #141. We were curious about how this horse was used, perhaps as an advertising piece, so we wrote to Nils Olsson and a kind, helpful man named Mattias replied. Here is what he wrote:
"This is not an advertisement piece. We used to make these horses back in time for decoration on walls and doors outside. It could also be used indoors of course, but the requests we had often mattered to put them outside on the barns. And of course your fantasy and imagination is what sets the limits for this object as well.
I can not say anything about the name on back though, I’m afraid. Seems that someone has tagged it as a memory."
The Nils Olsson artist used oil paints to coat the horse in the traditional bright red and adorned it with motifs in blue, black, beige and white, including a halter and a tail. It makes a vibrant, eye-catching display on a wall; it weighs only 1 3/4 pounds (we suggest using 3M Command Hangers to protect the paint). The horse can also be propped on a shelf, table or floor. It's a classic symbol of Sweden and a rare find for the collector and decorator.