Sunday, October 4, 2015

Check Out This Out-Standing Tiny Mohair Steiff Dog!

Look at this sweet surprise that popped into Steiffgal's email inbox.  A reader from Germany wonders if her theory that her recent find is a Molly has a leg to stand on.   What do you think?  Check out this note from Edel, who writes from Germany...

"I recently acquired a tiny mohair, excelsior-stuffed dog that I think may be a standing Steiff Molly and I would be very grateful for you opinion.  

The little dog stands 8cm high and is 10.5cm from nose tip to tail-tip. She has no tags, ribbon or button, but there is a small hole in her left ear (from her point of view) where a button could have been. Her mohair fur is very worn and thin in many places, but you can still see that she had the typical Molly brushed-on colour. She has brown eyes with black pupils and an embroidered nose. 

Her ears are folded over and sewn down with one or maybe two stitches at the tips. In spite of her very worn condition she oozes charm and character."

Good golly - this does indeed appear to be a Steiff Molly! Molly was introduced in the Steiff line in 1925 in both sitting and standing versions. Unlike other Steiff dogs of the period, she did not specifically have a breed, she was simply known as "a puppy." Steiff gave her this youthful appearance through her shaggy mohair, oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, folded over ears, and an innocent, almost "pouty" expression. 

It is safe to say that Mollies on all fours are an out-standing find indeed.  Standing Mollies were produced in 8, 12, 14, 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm through 1936. Other standing models included Molly dogs on regular and eccentric wooden wheels, hanging pram toys, musical versions, and barking pull toys; a few of these novelties were manufactured until the early 1940's. However, no version of standing Molly was reintroduced after the factory reopened for business post war in the late 1940's. Sitting Mollies did appear postwar in five sizes ranging from 10 to 25 cm through 1969.

Molly is perhaps the most well known and beloved Steiff dog pattern.  But, despite her legacy, she does not win the blue ribbon for longevity in the line.  Overall, Molly debuted in 1925 and was retired in 1969, providing 44 years of hugs.  However, she is slightly eclipsed by Waldi the long copper colored mohair Dachshund.  A vintage Waldi is pictured here on the left. This dynamic doggie was in introduced in 1933 and retired in 1980, netting in 47 years of service... or the equivalent of 329 dog years!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's rare standing Molly dogs is worthy of some fancy footwork. 

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

For He's A Jolly Good Steiff Fellow!

It's time to break out in a chorus of "for he's a jolly good Fellow!" And why is this? To celebrate a rare and wonderful vintage Steiff dog! Check out this terrific Terrier.  His name is Fellow, and he is from one of the most interesting periods in Steiff's product design and development era - the very late 1940's and early 1950's. Steiffgal is certain you too will find him smooth as silk!  

This mellow Fellow measures 20 cm high and 23 cm wide. He is standing, unjointed, and made from short brown artificial silk plush, which has been hand airbrushed with black highlights. His tail is made from short black artificial silk plush, while his distinctive forehead and sideburns are well represented by longer brown artificial silk plush. He has three black claws on each paw. His face comes to life with brown and black glass pupil eyes and a black hand embroidered nose and mouth. He wears an artificial brown leather collar and retains his early, red imprinted chest tag and short trailing "f" Steiff button. Fellow was produced in 22 and 28 cm from 1948 through 1949 only.
Collectible Airedale Terriers have been a breath of fresh air in the Steiff line since the late 1920's. The first version to roll on the scene was simply called "Airedale Terrier." This standing, unjointed model was on regular or eccentric wheels and produced in six sizes ranging from 17 to 35 inches from 1927 through 1930. From 1933 through 1936, the line featured "Jack," a standing wool plush Airedale Terrier produced in five sizes ranging from 17 to 43 cm. Then, in 1935, Steiff introduced a new Airedale Terrier pattern called "Fellow." Fellow was made from mohair and produced with or without wheels. The wheeled versions came in five sizes ranging from 22 to 50 cm while the simply standing models were made in four sizes ranging from 17 to 35 cm. Both versions were featured through 1943.

Fellow was one of the first patterns reintroduced once the factory reopened for toy making business post war in about 1948. In addition to the artificial silk plush model under discussion here, he was also made in mohair in 22 and 28 cm in 1949, and as a mohair ride on animal in 43 and 50 cm from 1949 through 1950. Then, in 1950, Steiff updated its traditional Airedale Terrier pattern and renamed it "Terry." In addition to Terry, Steiff launched many new smaller dog and cat models in the early to mid-1950's as part of their global growth strategy of the era. Terry was made from mohair, standing, and unjointed. He was produced overall in six sizes ranging from 8 to 35 cm from 1950 though 1961; he was also made as a ride on toy in four sizes ranging from 28 to 50 cm from 1950 through 1961. All featured the breed's charming "folded over" style ears in mohair, with the smallest versions having felt ears - as pictured above on the left.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's transitional Fellow Airedale Terrier has provided an enjoyable change of pace to your day.

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Care For A Sneak "Peek" At A Seldom Seen Prewar Steiff Dog?

Care to have a sneak "peek" at a really rare Steiff pup? Then check out this little love, who would definitely qualify as part of the canine "toy group" on many levels! You probably know of her breed through a later Steiff design; this model is the great grandmother of one of the most prolific and popular Steiff dogs of the 1950's-1970's.

This petite pooch is the earliest version of "Peky," Steiff's beloved Pekingese pattern. She stands 17 cm high and 20 cm long. Peky is made from tipped and highlighted cream colored mohair. She is standing on all fours and is head jointed. Her tail curves back over her rump, and is stitched in place. Peky has three black hand embroidered claws on each foot and a non-working side squeaker. She has relatively short ears, a shorter mohair face, oversized black and brown pupil eyes, and a hand embroidered nose and mouth. Her lips have a spot of pink airbrushing. 

Peky retains her trailing "f" style and pre-war style yellow ear tag with the numbers 1317,02. These correspond to 1=standing, 3=mohair. 17= 17 cm, 0=without wheels, and 2=squeaker. This pretty Pekingese was made in 10, 14, 17, 22, and 25 cm from 1938 through 1943. 

At first glance, Peky looks alot like two of her fellow standing dog sisters of the era, Charly the King Charles Spaniel (standing on the left), and the Chin Chin (standing in the middle). You can see this family resemblance here on the photo here.  Charly was made standing or sitting. Standing Charly was manufactured in 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, and 22 cm from 1928 through 1938 while sitting Charly appeared in the line in 10, 14, 17, 22, 25, 30, and 35 cm from 1928 through 1936. Chin Chin was only produced standing in 10, 14, 17, 20, 22, 25, 28, and 35 cm from 1931 though 1939. All share the same basic face with key design differences being in ear length, body shape, tail posture, and facial coloring.

Peky had a major makeover post war and was reintroduced to the collector's world in 1953. This updated Peky was produced in 8, 10, 14, and 22 cm though 1977. The post-war Peky is standing, made from light brown mohair, has a detailed black muzzle (mostly velvet in the smaller sizes; mohair in the larger ones), and a darling, pouty mouth. This pattern was also produced as an 18 cm hand puppet from 1963 through 1964. You can see these "new" Peky dogs here on the left.  Then, in 1965, Steiff went on to introduce a larger, 30 cm light blond mohair sitting Peky; she appeared in the line through 1976 and is a bit more rare than her smaller siblings. Because Peky's design is so expressive, it remains a collector's favorite to this day - as each Peky truly has her own look and personality. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of Steiff's early toy dogs is worthy of a little "pek" on the cheek.

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, canine or otherwise? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Take A Load Off Of Your Feet With This Amazing Sitting Steiff Studio Elephant

Who likes a jumbo Steiff surprise?  Especially one that is unforgettable?  Well, that would be Steiffgal - and most Steiff superfans - as well!  Check out this email that will have you literally grinning from ear to ear.  A reader from the south shares in part...

"I got this elephant in 1959.  He is in great shape and very heavy.  He is about 4 feet tall and 2-3 feet deep/wide.  I have never seen another this large.  His red collar is felt.  His arms and legs move and his head turns, allowing for changing positions. He has been handled or touched very little. Tag in ear as it was in 1959.

My father's company was opening a new store, and they brought in 3 large Steiff pieces as a promotion. I remember that they were $150 each, and to a 13-year old in 1959 that was an out of range amount.  I loved the elephant so much that they let me work after school and on weekends until I had earned enough to buy it.  The other 2 sold fairly quickly and I believe - though never confirmed - that my family bought the elephant early to insure he'd be mine.

The elephant had a special crate built for him while my parents moved and I was at college.  I built my own home 25 years ago and the high shelf in my great room was designed just for him.  He was liberated from his cage when I moved in.  He sits about 15 feet high watching all. I love people's reaction to seeing him for first time.  Especially kids!"

Pull up a chair and let's take a closer look at this sitting sweetie!  What we have here is a fantastic example of a Steiff studio elephant.  As the reader described, he is made from mohair, fully jointed, and in a great sitting position.  He is so heavy because he is hand-stuffed with excelsior, and most likely has an internal metal support skeleton of some sort. He has great airbrushed highlights and detailing all over his body, but especially on his face and paws. Elephant has an open, smiling, felt lined mouth and a playful, upturned trunk.  He dons a red felt collar bib around his upper torso.  The basic pattern for this happy go lucky fellow was made in 100 and 150 cm in 1960 and then again in 1967.  You can see a photo of him in "like new" condition; this illustration is from Pfeiffer's 1947-2003 Steiff Sortiment book.  

The 1960's were huge in terms of Steiff studio elephant production. In addition to this sitting pattern, the company also made three standing life sized elephant designs. One was 150 cm and standing on all fours. The other two were on all fours but with one foot slightly lifted; these were made in 75 and 150 cm. 

However, there is something extra special about the sitting version. It is Steiffgal's best guess that he is the jumbo version of - well, Steiff's beloved Jumbo toy elephant! This great design, is head and arm jointed, sitting up, and made from super soft, short grey mohair. He is exceptionally sweet and childlike - even joyful! His face is detailed with black and white google eyes and an open peach colored felt lined mouth. His paw pads are made from grey felt. He wears a red felt bib.  Overall, Jumbo was produced from 1952 through 1975 and came in two standard line sizes, 22 and 35 cm.  Steiffgal has an unusual 15 cm version of this big beauty - it is probably a sample that never went into full production.  This petite pachyderm and his more standard 35 cm version mom are pictured here on the left.  Can't you see the family resemblance to the studio version?

Steiffgal hopes today's discussion on Steiff's sitting elephants has taken a heavy load off your feet.

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.
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