Monday, August 3, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

It's the dog days of summer and quite appropriately, Steiffgal received this question from a reader from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. Wendy writes:


I have a 26” tall Steiff Basset Hound … at least I think he’s a Basset Hound. He’s definitely filled with straw because he’s missing his left eye and I can see inside the eye socket – it’s straw in there. He also has some wearing on his right front paw – again, you can see the straw in there as well. I believe his remaining eye is made out of wood, although I could be wrong about this. The eye has to be close to 2” in diameter.

His coat is
mohair (I think that’s what you call it – many of my Steiff Teddy Bears are made of this material as well, which I believe is mohair). He has a button in his ear – no tag though. He has a green leather collar, which, frankly, isn’t in the greatest condition. But it’s still there.

He was given to my mom when she was a young teenager – in the mid to late 50s. She remembers the boy paying $150 for him back then. I have not been able to locate any information on this unique piece. Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you."

Doggonit, what a wonderful item, and thanks so much for your note.
First, to start things off,
your mother's suitor had quite the case of "puppy love!" His $150 investment in 1960 (the first year he was available) translates to approximately a $1,100 price tag today!

Now let's dish on the dog. What we have here is a really special Steiff Studio (i.e. relatively life sized) Basset hound. This colossal canine is 75 cm tall, stuffed with excelsior, and not jointed. His tan mohair is (or was, it's hard to stop the aging process) carefully airbrushed; he has spots on his front arms, shading on his hind legs and back, and lines all around his face and forehead that give him a quizzical expression. He has hand stitched claws on his paws and soft fabric folds around his mouth that give a softness to his lower jaw. He has an impressive vertically stitched nose that is about 3 inches wide by 2 inches tall. Quite the sniffer!

Two features that really stand out on this blue ribbon beauty - besides his proportions - are his ears and his eyes. His ears are very large and droopy, measuring about 14 inches at their longest point and 10 inches at their widest point. They are made from tan mohair that has carefully been airbrushed a variety of brown tones. The Steiff button and flag are located on the interior side of his left ear.

Next, his incredible eyes. Steiff has a reputation for detailed handwork and attention to detail, and these peepers really take the cake. They are wooden, about the size of a golfball, and intricately hand painted to look like a real eye. It appears that Wendy's Basset is in dire need of an eye doctor. Unfortunately Steiff does not keep "spare parts" for too long on any particular item and Steiffgal is certain that the factory would not have a replacement eye for a close to 40 year old item. Steiffgal's best recommendation is to hire an art student or artist to recreate the eyeball for you.

This amazing piece was manufactured in 1960 (Art. - No 3375,90) and then again in 1967 (Art. - No 4089/08) only. Interestingly, the famous "Hush Puppies" footwear brand, whose logo is a Basset hound, was founded in 1958 and was quite popular in the late 1950's and 1960's. Based on this timing, Steiffgal would not be surprised if the studio sized Basset was designed as a window display piece for Hush Puppies shoes! Steiff also produced 12, 14, and 22 cm mohair Basset hounds from 1961 through 1963, and Hush Puppy specifically branded 12 and 14 cm Basset hound premiums from 1970 through 1972.

Steiffgal must confess that she also has this collectible, which makes writing about it even more delightful. Just for fun and scale, take a look at the shot on the left of the Basset with a real-life 20 pound adult pug dog (yes, that's Steiffpug). You get the picture - this is a "Great Dane" of Bassets.

Wendy, Steiffgal really enjoyed this time to paws and reflect on this beautiful Basset, and hopes that this information is helpful to you!

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

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