Saturday, July 16, 2011

Less Is More When It Comes To Steiff's Pocket Sized Animal Dolls

Sometimes less is more, even when it comes to certain Steiff collectibles.  (By less, here Steiffgal is referring to size, as it is would be inconceivable to have TOO MANY Steiffs, wouldn't you agree?)  In the early 1950's, Steiff introduced a whole new series of pocket sized animal dolls to the world.  These were dapperly dressed, 12 cm tall little characters with "humanized" rubber bodies and soft heads of some of the more popular Steiff character designs of the time. Let's take a look at a few of these animal dolls and see what makes them so irresistible from the collector's perspective.

Oh baby, who can resist this bitty bruin named Teddyli?  Collectors will recognize his sweet face and head design as that identical to Steiff's classic 9 cm brown mohair Teddy baby.  His muzzle is made from tan velvet which is detailed with tiny black and brown pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, and his famous impish smile.  He is head jointed only and wears a tan, purple, and green short sleeved cotton shirt and orange felt overalls.  The overalls are permanently snapped together with two silver button studs.  His shoes are part of his molded rubber legs; they are painted brown and have brown felt soles.  Teddyli appeared in the Steiff line from 1955 through 1957.

Let's not monkey around and get to our next adorable animal doll.  Here we have Cocoli.  He is based on another very popular Steiff design introduced in the 1950's, Coco the green eyed baboon.  Coco's head is made from white and black mohair; his face and ears are made from peach colored felt.  His face is detailed with amazing airbrush highlighting for a chap of his size!  Coco wears a white cotton tee-shirt, a yellow ribbon bow tie, blue felt coat, and red, black, blue, and yellow plaid pants.  Like Teddyli, his shoes are part of his molded rubber legs; they are painted black and have brown felt soles.  Cocoli appeared in the Steiff line from 1955 through 1957.

This pip-squeak of a Steiff animal doll is known as Pippy mouse.  Unlike Teddyli and Cocoli, Pippy is not based on a named Steiff character of the era.  Pippy has a gray velvet head and tiny felt ears. His face is detailed with black bead eyes and nose and clear mono-filament whiskers. He is wearing his original long red felt jacket with tails, a grey cotton shirt, black felt pants, and a crimson ribbon. His shoes are part of his molded rubber legs; they are painted grey and have brown felt soles. Pippy was made from 1955 through 1959. 

In addition to these tiny treasures, Steiff also created a whole series of 12 cm animal dolls with soft heads and rubber bodies.  These included:
  • Bib and Bibbie, a sweet rabbit couple in the line from 1954 through 1964 dressed in matching country style outfits
  • Lix and Lixie, his and her kittens in the line from 1954 through 1957 wearing "puss-in-boots style" attire
  • Quaggi the duck in the line from 1955 through 1959 wearing a little sailor suit
  • Kiki the chick in the line from 1955 through 1959 wearing a brightly striped cotton dress
Despite their precious appearance and "built Steiff tough" quality, few of these animal dolls survive in good or better condition today.  Why?  Two reasons... first, they were designed as children's toys for fun and play.  They made perfect dollhouse residents and great pocket sized school companions.  Play and wear takes a toll on condition and longevity.  Secondly, their bodies were made out of rubber, which tends to dry out, crack, and eventually fall apart over time.  So structurally, they are not stable over time.  It is not terribly unusual now to find one of these dolls minus a limb or two... but unfortunately it is not realistically possible to repair these body parts once they have become brittle or lost to time.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's smallest dapper darlings has you looking - and feeling - great as well!

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

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