Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paws And Take A Look At These Remarkable Vintage Steiff Dicky Bears!

When Steiff claims their wonderful Teds and animals are "Friends for Life", they really aren't kidding! Although many collectors prefer to keep their hugs within the safe confines of their homes, some (Steiffgal herself included here!) insist upon always traveling with a Steiff companion. Take a look at this note from a reader in Canada who has a very specialized Steiff collection - including one Ted that probably has more stamps in his passport than an international diplomat! Though a series of communications, Dwight writes:
 
"Steiffgal:
 
I have a small collection of Steiff which I started acquiring in 1985. The Dicky bear is my favourite – I have twelve in my collection, including two original ones from the 1930's. Here is a picture of my happy Dicky family, whose ages range from teenagers to senior citizens!  I bought my first Dicky in 1986. As soon as I saw him I liked him because of his smile. He’s got a lot of miles on him now, as do I. I have traveled a lot for business and he has come with me.

I have a couple of questions for which I have done some online research and not found any answers. I hoped you might be able to help?

As for the vintage bears, I have always wondered exactly where they were made. Is it possible to find out where the factory was (or maybe still is)? I just thought it would be neat if it were still standing to find it on Google or maybe even see it in person some day. Can you also give me a little history and information about the Dicky Teddy bear design?  There isn't alot of information out there on him.
 
Thanks in advance for your time and any help you can provide.

Best, 
Dwight"

What a "paw-fectly" interesting series of questions about a Steiff design known for its remarkable and distinctive hand and foot detailing!   Dicky was introduced in 1930, and appeared in the line in one form or another through 1941. Dwight's two vintage Teds pictured here and below are wonderful examples of this bear.   Dicky was promoted as...

"A new, improved, and less expensive Steiff Teddy Bear.  Attractive design, newly formed head, strong squeeze growler, soft filling, blond or white mohair with painted pads, movable head and joints, famous workmanship."

Dicky was produced in blond, white, and brown in a wide range of sizes.
All were five ways jointed. The blond and white versions were mohair and were made in 15, 29, 23, 25, 30, 32, 35, 43, 45, 50, 65, and 75 cm through the mid 1930's.  A dark brown plush version was made in 25, 32, and 43 cm from 1935 thorough 1941.   Dwight reports that both of his Dicky bears are 13" standing and 9" sitting, suggesting that they are most likely the 35 cm models.  

And just what makes a Dicky, well, a Dicky?   Three key things.  First, his insert muzzle.  Second, his impish, smiling expression.  And third, his elaborately painted paw pads, which were velvet in earlier models and felt in later editions.  (For some reason, not all of the later model brown Dicky bears had painted paw pads.)  The picture on the left, from the Cieslik's wonderful "Button In Ear The History Of The Teddy Bear and His Friends", shows an original blond Dicky bear with samples of paw pad prints and colors. 

Dicky bears, and all other models of the time, were made at the Steiff factory in Giengen, Germany -or- by homeworkers in the general area of Giengen.  This explains in part why the same Steiff design produced around the same time can look so different! Steiff did alot of "outsourcing" of bear sewing and finishing to the surrounding communities which really helped the economic situation in the area.  According to company records, between 1930 and 1936, 14,646 Dicky bears were made in blond and 11,029 were made in white. The Giengen factory is still around and functional. It is a great vacation destination; there is even a fantastic museum and Teddy bear cafe on the campus!  The picture above shows one of the buildings on the property that was built in 1903. If you are a real Steiff enthusiast, it is really worth the trip!
 
And speaking of "the trip", take a look at Dwight's traveling Ted! This lucky bear has seen the world, and has been photographed at the Grand Canyon, the Pacific Ocean, across Canada, including Victoria BC, amongst other great destinations. Perhaps his next goal is a cockpit adventure, as here he is fraternizing with a flight crew on a recent outing. Clearly a trip to Giengen is in order for this cub with wanderlust! 
  
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's wonderful Dicky Bears has caused you to paws and consider adopting one into your Teddy hug.  

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

3 comments:

  1. That's a beautiful bunch of bears! How interesting to know they "outsourced!"

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  2. Yes- Steiff had a pretty liberal "work at home" policy for its time! A win-win for the company as well as the workers!

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  3. Oh ! wow they are so adorable!!

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