Thursday, September 3, 2009

Three Generations of Steiff

It is not unusual for a special Steiff collection to touch children, parents, and grandparents, as the brand is timeless and full of legacy. Check out this "three generational" note from a reader in Missouri who writes about his daughter's Steiff collection which includes contributions from his own mother. John writes...

"Dear Steiffgal,

I've been going through my daughter's collection of Steiff
animals and trying to catalog everything. Most were purchased new in he 1980's and there is no problem. However, my mother also bought her some animals at antique or garage sales that have no EAN numbers or cardboard tags so I can't determine what they are. If you could help it would be great.

The mouse has a silver button in the ear but the label is gone as is the cardboard tag.
I think it is mohair and is filled pretty solidly. There is a black shiny plastic (I guess) nose and very red plastic eyes. It also has 1 1/4 " nylon whiskers.

The walrus has
a silver button on the bottom of his left front foot (paw?) and no cardboard tag. I think he is mohair and filled solidly. The eyes are white and then black in the middle and he has whiskers about 1" long. The tusks appear to be wood.

The small dog with the big red ribbon and brass (I think) bell does not have a button as far as I can tell. However, it appears to be Steiff from the cardboard tag. The name is hard for an old geezer like me to read but seems to be "M????y" with the two letters before the "y" looking like an "L" or a "T". The body is solid and no jointing except the head which does turn all the way around. The eyes are brown with black in the center.

The pig is very plain and has a very short ta
il. He is filled solidly and has no joints. The eyes are blue with black in the middle. There is a silver button but no tags.

The cat is solidly filled and has no joints. It has whiskers about 1" long and also has small whiskers
(about 1/2") close to the ears. The eyes are blue with black in the center and the blue seems to match the color of the ribbon. It has a silver button in the ear but you can see where the yellow tag was removed and there is no cardboard tag.

I think the dog is Cockie Cocker Spaniel as the number 3314 is still on the tag, although very lightly. It too is solidly filled a
nd has no joints with brown eyes with black in the middle. And it has a nice brown collar. Again there is no cardboard tag.

The little squirrel is solidly filled with no joints although the tail seems to move back and f
orth and be sort of tied to the back so it doesn't go too far. The eyes are solid black and the whiskers are about a 1" long. It has a silver tag in the ear but you can see that the yellow ear tag was removed and there is no cardboard tag.

Also, can you recommend a way to clean these animals? They have just been sitting in my daughter's bedroo
m for many years collecting dust. I'm not sure they need much cleaning but thought I should find out if you have a good method when there is really no dirt or spots to be removed, just dust.

If you could identify these it would be a big help. And if there is a charge for your service please let me know. Thanks again for your help!

John, you have a marvelous group of vintage Steiff collectibles here. And Steiffgal does this for love, not money! So let's get started!

First, the mouse. What you have here is a "mighty" mouse called Pieps. Pieps is mohair, unjointed, and 8 cm tall. She has tiny felt hands and feet, and a long felt tail. She was made in white with red eyes, and grey with black eyes. This particular model debuted in 1958 and was produced through 1978. Pieps was extremely popular during the early 1970's; the upscale toy retailer FAO Schwarz dressed these mice as brides, clowns, little red riding hood, and other characters and sold them as exclusives. These customized models in good condition are highly sought after by collectors today.

Now the walrus,
one of Steiffgal's all time faves. This bearded beauty is called Paddy. It appears that your model is the 14 cm size; he was also produced in 10 and 22 cm in the 1959 through 1965 time frame. Wally is mohair, intricately detailed with airbrushing, has a wonderful fuzzy beard made out of string, and two white wooden tusks. The early 1960's were the heyday of walrus years at Steiff; during that time the company produced a studio (100 cm life sized) walrus, a walrus puppet, and a walrus pajama bag.

Next comes Molly, one of Steiff's classic canines. Molly originally debuted in 1925. Pre-war, she was produced in 12 sizes ranging from 7 through 80 cm. She was one of the very first models reintroduced post war, reappearing again in 1949 in 5 sizes through 1969. Molly is head jointed, made from long mohair plush, and is detailed with brown airbrushing. One of the things Steiffgal finds really interesting about Molly is that she is one of the very few Steiff dogs that doesn't have a "breed" associated with her. For example, Bully is the Steiff Bulldog, Foxy is the Steiff Fox Terrier, and Snobby is the Steiff Poodle. This model is simply known as Molly the Puppy. This particular Molly is a little older than the others in John's collection as her chest tag indicates that she was made in the 1926 through 1928 time frame.

The precious pig is called Jolanthe. Jolanthe is unjointed, standing, and made from pink mohair. He has dark pink felt lined open mouth and pert blue eyes. When he was new, he would have been detailed with airbrushing on his face and on his four limbs; he left the factory with a red neck cord. It appears your Jolanthe is the 17 cm size; he was also produced in 10 and 22 cm from 1951 through 1977.

Onto the cat, which is a "cosy" -
or soft - version of the highly collectible Siamese cat called Siamy. Siamy was only produced for a few years pre- and post- war and is highly sought after due to her beauty and limited production time. This designed-for-play cat is called Catty Siamese cat; she is 25 cm tall, sitting, and unjointed. She is made from soft woven fur. Perhaps her most striking feature is her gorgeous big blue pupil eyes, which are complimented by her original blue ribbon. Cattie was produced from 1980 through 1983.

You are right,
your darling dog is Cockie the Cocker Spaniel. This model was one of the new designs introduced post war, when Steiff started producing smaller, easily collectible items for the North American market. Cockie is sitting, made from white and brown mohair, and his head jointed. He has an open mouth and brown pupil eyes. He was produced in 7 sizes, ranging from 10 through 30 cm, from 1951 through 1959.

Last but not leas
t, the squirrel. This fall favorite is none other than Perri, a squirrel that was based on a famous 1957 Walt Disney true life documentary movie of the time, True Life Adventures. Perri is made from brown tipped mohair, has a great shaggy tail, and feet and hands made out of thick felt. One of Perri's most distinctive features is his white felt backed eyes. Perry was made in 12, 17, and 22 cm from 1959 through 1983. The 17 and 22 cm versions came with a beautifully airbrushed velvet pine cone, about 2.5 cm long.

As for cleaning this collection of mohair and plush items, less is more. Collectibles tend to get really dirty, and it is important to get as much dust off of them as regularly as possible. The first thing to do here is to hold down anything that could fly off (tags, ribbons, etc.) and shake them VIGOROUSLY. Really! A friend in the industry refers to this as "refreshing the product" and it actually works quite well. After you have "refreshed" your items, you can vacuum them (at a distance) using the lowest setting on your vacuum cleaner. This removes any remaining stubborn dirt. Finally, you may choose to GENTLY clean them with a very dilute solution of dish detergent and water. Do not get the items wet; simply moisten a soft washcloth lightly with the solution and rub off any surface dust or grime. Once you are done, air dry the items and fluff them up with a gentle brushing.

John, Steiffgal hopes that this cross-generational, as well as multi-decade review of your daughter's collection gives you a good feeling for the depth and dimension of the Steiff line over time.

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


  1. I love the squirrel of the last picture, looks so cute and tiny that I think it is going to be a gift for my wife.

  2. I have a Steiff Dog that is tan and white with the box and tags. I can't seem to find this one anywhere. He is standing not laying. Got any ideas?


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