Saturday, September 18, 2010

This Steiff Treasure Will Make You Want To Walk In Circles!

Have you ever come across a Steiff rarity in your travels, in a book, on line, or in a store that simply took your breath away?  Well this one did just that... and literally made Steiffgal's head spin when she learned about it from a reader.  Sue from Illinois writes...

Hello Steiffgal,
I am an artist who was bitten by the Steiff bug a number of years ago when I began pairing a small vintage Steiff animal with my own teddy creations. 
I recently spotted and bought this wonderful toy from an antique mall showcase. The seller's tag didn't even identify it as "Steiff," even though upon close inspection, I found Steiff buttons embedded in the wooden pull knob and under each of the bird's wings.

Can you tell me more about this pull toy? I've never seen one like it and I'm wondering about its rarity. I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give me.  I've attached some photos.


Sue, you've really found a needle in a haystack here.  This farm-friendly rotating toy is Steiff's Roly Droly 2 Kuecken or Roly Droly 2 chicks.  It appeared in the Steiff product line from 1924 through 1934.  These are seldom available to collectors today as they were designed for hands on child's play.  Despite their inherent Steiff quality, they did tend to wear down or out over time.

Let's take a look at the components of this remarkable Roly Droly.  The chicks are 8 cm and made from yellow mohair; they are unjointed and have black eyes and felt beaks.  Their feet are metal which are wrapped tightly in yellow cord to give them a lifelike appearance.  The chicks were a standard item in the Steiff line from 1908 through 1933 and came in white and yellow over that time frame. Each chick stands on a green disk on the three wheeled wagon.  Each disk turns in a counter - clockwise direction. The wagon itself is 16 cm wide overall and has a red pull cord. The handle of the pull cord is red wood and has a Steiff button on the tip as decoration. 

Roly Drolys are fabulous examples of Steiff's early twentieth century creativity.  It is interesting to note that the name of this product is derived from the German words "rollen" (to roll) and "drollig" (funny or droll).  Overall, the Roly Droly design appeared in the Steiff line from 1924 through 1934.  In addition to the two chicks, other "spinning" animals included a bear and monkey set (came in white or brown), two bears, a chick and rabbit, and two rabbits. But Steiffgal is certain that there were other combinations too, Steiff as a company is famous for not recording everything!  Pictured here on the upper left is another example of a Steiff Roly Droly, the brown bear and monkey set.  This picture is taken from the October 13, 2010 Christie's Steiff Auction catalog.  This bear and monkey Roly Droly will be sold, with 600+  additional lots, at the much anticipated auction in London.

Just thinking about Sue's wonderful find turns Steiffgal into a "Spinning Ninny."  What about you?

Have a question about one of your Steiff collectibles? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.  Or, if you are interested in adding this treasure to your own collection, click here!

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