Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rock on with Steiff!

A Steiff mystery is so much fun, a double mystery is twice as nice!  Sometimes things are not so easy to identify, but this challenge has an additional rockin' twist.  Check out this note from Marilyn, who asks about her "kinetic" canine.  She writes...

"Dear Steiffgal, 

Please help.  I started collecting Steiff back in the 60’s.  One item I found six years ago appears to be a Steiff dog (St. Bernard) on a metal rocker.  The plush dog part is about 28 inches long and the entire rocker is about 50 inches long.  

Can you tell me anything more about this?

Thanks and best,


Wow, this item is quite the mover and shaker!  There are two very interesting things going on here.  Let's take a look at them one at a time.  

The first is the rocker itself.  Steiff calls this a Stahlwiege or steel rocker.  It is an accessory that people could buy for riding animals, to convert them from rollers to rockers. it is made out of red steel tubing and came in 4 sizes to accommodate riding animals ranging from 30 to 80 cm:  a smaller one to for items 30, 40, and 43 cm; one for 50 cm items; one for 60 cm items; and one for 80 cm items. People could disconnect the wheels off of the frames of certain riding animals and slip them into the Stahlwiege to make a rocking style animal. This device was made from 1969-1984.

The second is the St. Bernhard riding dog.  Steiffgal cannot find reference to a plush version of this item in Gunther Pfeiffer's Steiff Sortiment Book, the gold standard Steiff reference book.  Over time, Steiffgal has found this book to be about 90% complete, but it would be all but impossible to capture every item Steiff has made since it began producing a catalog in 1892!  However, Marilyn's dog has a remarkable resemblance to one of Steiffgal's dogs, a 125 cm Studio St. Bernhard produced from 1973 through 1983. Steiffgal's dog is pictured here above on the left.  Just for size reference, he is shown with a real life Steiffpug... yes, this Studio dog is a mighty big boy!

Riding dogs were a staple item in the post war Steiff line through the mid 1970's. Many of the company's better known canines were produced as riding dogs; these included a riding Boxer (1950 - 1961), riding Foxy Fox terrier (1949 - 1966), riding Terry Airedale (1950 - 1961), and riding Arco German Shepherd (1957 - 1960).   Fast forward a few years, Steiff continued to make several riding dogs through the mid-1970's; these included a 50 cm riding Cockie Cocker Spaniel and a 50 cm riding Schnauzer.  It is Steiffgal's best guess that this riding St. Bernhard was made in the mid 1970's at the same time as the riding Cockie and Schnauzer.   Perhaps it was produced as a special order, or in limited quantities,  and for that reason somehow is not documented right now in the standard Steiff reference books. Additionally, it is likely that the original owner took off the riding wheels and substituted the Stahlwiege for them. 

Steiffgal hopes this merry mystery has given you something to bark about!

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

1 comment:

  1. Hello , my blog is one year old. Good reason to celebrate birthday. I organize a raffle, I would be glad if you would choose an object, which is then raffled among all participants. All are invited. Regards Jürgen.


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