Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hungry for More Information on an Old Steiff Friend

Steiffgal loves to help readers reconnect with childhood Steiff treasures. Check out this note from Jeani, who hungers for some information on her favorite Steiff plaything.

"I found your website while searching online and am hoping you can help me or get me headed in the right direction.

I have had a cherished Steiff animal since I was a young girl in the 60's. I can't find information about it anywhere. The ear tag is worn and the only number I can read are "73". It is a yellow tag
and I know the ear tag is from the 1960-1972 collection.

I believe the animal was called Dormie the mink
. It is a mink that is lying curled up. I would love to know a value and perhaps find a way to purchase another.

Many thanks for your reply."

The item you describe is not a mink, but what Steiff calls Dormy Siebenschlaefer or Dormy Edible Dormouse - really! Dormy has huge black eyes, rounded simple ears, a pink airbrushed nose, and clear mono-filament whiskers. Her body is made from short tipped mohair; her tail - which is as long as her body - is made from very wavy mohair; and her head is made from airbrushed dralon. Dormy was made from 1966 through 1974 and came in two sizes: 12 and 20 cm.

One thing that is really interesting and unique about Dormy is her shape. She is curled up upon herself; literally all body and tail. If you look on her flip side, as seen here, she was not manufactured with any arms or legs at all. As far as Steiffgal can tell, Dormy was the first ever Steiff animal made in this really unusual configuration. Moving forward, Steiff has made raccoons, huskies, cats, and foxes in similar spooning - sans limbs - positions. The common denominator here is that all of these species have large, prominent tails which allow the designers to configure the animal in this nesting shape.

So just who is the inspiration behind this unusual Steiff collectible? The edible dormouse, also known as the fat dormouse, is a rodent but not technically a mouse. She is pictured here. The species is found primarily across continental Europe. The word dormouse means “sleeping mouse”; these mostly nocturnal creatures have large eyes, short legs, and prominent bushy tails. They range in size from 8 to 19 cm (about 3 to 7 ½ inches) and weigh up to 180 grams (about 6.3 ounces). They spend a great deal of time sleeping and hibernating; as you can see from the picture here they do use their tails as a pillow! Historically, edible dormice were bred as a food source and eaten as snacks by the ancient Romans. Today, wild edible dormice are consumed in Slovenia, where they are considered a special treat and dormouse hunting is a cultural tradition. The country has a long history with edible dormice; Slovenians have used the animals for food, a fur source, and their fat for traditional medicinal purposes since the 13th century.

As for the value of this darling collectible and where to find a replacement... as always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and strongly believes that something is "worth" what someone else will pay for it. A good place to start your search is eBay, both the US and the German site. And now since you know Dormy's "official name" and legacy, you can search for her online via Google and other search engines. In terms of pricing, Steiffgal has recently seen vintage Steiff edible dormice sell at auction in the $30 - 75 range, depending on size and condition.

Jeani, Steiffgal hopes that this background and history on your edible dormouse has "sated" your appetite for more information!


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