Friday, July 24, 2009

Look What I Found!

Coming across vintage Steiff collectibles in the most unexpected places is certainly a thrill. And to Steiffgal, hearing the story behind exciting finds is like... music to her ears! Speaking of memorable finds, here is an article that Steiffgal wrote for the wonderful magazine Teddy Bear and Friends that was published a few years back. Has anything like this ever happened to you?

Look What I Found!

Here is the story about how one of Steiffgal's most unusual Steiff items, a 1928 - 1931 Musical Molly, came a
bout.

Steiffgal was on a business trip in a small town in North Carolina. She was traveling with some colleagues and stopped for lunch before her next series of appointments in the afternoon. The team
went to a charming outdoor cafe and had their meal. Steiffgal then looked across the street from the restaurant and noticed an antique store. Since the team had an hour before their next meeting, Steiffgal asked if they would be interested in taking a look in the store. Everyone agreed, and they headed in.

The store was chock full of vintage household items, but Steiffgal did not really see anything of interest to add to her antique toy collection. Then she noticed a tan mohair item on a shelf in a corner vitrene. She couldn't really make out what it was, and it looked like it had been there for awhile. She asked the shopkeeper if she could take a look at the item in the case.

Steiffgal pulled it out of the vitrene and immediately knew it was a Steiff Molly of some sort... but there was something odd about it. The eyes, nose-stitching, knot behind the head, sitting position, and tipped mohair were giveaways to its brand and origin. But the ears-- strange-- they looked like someone had taken them off and sewed them on again, but backwards, so they stuck up and out like "bat ears". Perhaps so the pup would look more like the original owner's real dog? A true mystery. The pink velvet lining of the ears had the telltale hole and imprint where the Steiff button was at one point, but it had been removed or lost, unfortunately.

Steiffgal was delighted with her find. But something still was puzzling. Molly's backside was really heavy and stiff. Steiffgal's first thought was that her voice box had shifted over time downwards to her rump. She started feeling around and squeezed her sides gently for more clues. As she did so, music clear as a bell came from Molly's hidden bellows. Steiffgal was in shock and disbelief-- here in a tiny town in the United States, so far away from Giengen, Germany where Molly was born-- she had found a true Steiff treasure in perfect working order.

Being on the road and away from her trusted Steiff Sortiment book, Steiffgal called a friend from the road to describe the find and to ask that he look her up in the reference book. He confirmed that Steiffgal indeed had stumbled across the 25 cm 1928 - 1931 Musik-Molly or Musical Molly. According to this authoritative Steiff reference, Molly is described as "mohair plush, brown/white, sitting, Swiss music-box, music plays when pressed and released." This information is found on page 129 of the Steiff Sortiment 1892-1943 reference book.

Further research on this piece from the Cieslik's comprehensive book: Button in Ear: The History of the Teddy Bear and His Friends, reveals some additional fun facts. Apparently Steiff produced only 328 of these Musik-Mollys in total. Also from page 220 of this book: "The "Music-Animals" of 1928 were introduced for "cuddling and snuggling-up-to before falling asleep". A Swiss musical box fitted inside the body so that it was invisible, was activated by pressing the animal's body to play the melody. A clown (14 and 17 in) and approximately 20 animals (7 to 12 in) were put into production: "Teddy", "
Petsy", "Bully", and "Charly" (standing and sitting), "Treff", "Molly", "Fluffy" {a cat}, "Cherio", {a cartoon dog popular at the time}, "Fellow", and a lamb. Another model was fitted with a voice box which was activated by turning the animal's tail. However, sales of these animals were minimal and there were last sold in 1930/1931."

As for the ears, Steiffgal decided to keep them as found and not repair them to their original state. She loves the mystery that this adds to a very unique collectible.

Oh, and since you were probably wondering, Steiffgal paid $35 for her. Music to Steiffguy's (the one who balances the checkbook) ears.

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

2 comments:

  1. I recently purchased a very old "hump back" Steiff Bear. I do not know if his eyes have been replaced or not. Here is the issue: He has the old glass eyes; but, one is clear w/ black pupil and the other brown w/ black pupil. Does anyone know of such eyes on a Steiff ?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Could you send me some photos and more information? Best, SteffGal

    ReplyDelete

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