It's always fun to hunt for answers about interesting Steiff items. This week's post really takes that charge literally! Since the beginning, Steiff designers have taken many product design ideas right from their immediate surroundings. The Steiff company is located in Giengen, Germany, a picture-perfect pastoral community surrounded by a river, farms, and forests. So it is no surprise that woodland and farm animals have always been quite prominent in the line. Steiff's dolls and doll-animals often reflect the traditional occupations and hobbies of Giengen as well - "hunting" being a key one. Let's take a look at a two vintage Steiff "hunting" rarities and discover the stories behind them.
Let's start guns-ablaze with this Pupp-Waldi als Jaeger, or Waldi Dog as a Hunter. Although this particular piece was produced from 1950 through 1974, he is actually based on an almost identical model from 1937 through 1941. (Click here to see a picture of the pre- and post war Waldi hunter dolls side to side!) Waldi pictured here is 26 cm, standing, and in a little green felt suit, plaid vest, and green hat. He is head jointed. His head and the tops of his hands and feet are mohair, and his body and limbs are made from peach colored felt-like material. When he left the factory, he had a chest tag stitched to his jacket, and a plastic hunting gun on a strap that he could sling over his shoulder. The earlier Waldi Hunter was produced in 22 and 28 cm; he was dressed in an identical fashion but had a wooden gun with a leather strap as an accessory.
Steiff's wonderful original "Waldi" design was introduced to the world in 1933. A long haired Dachshund, he was produced standing on all fours, on wheels, and begging in sizes ranging from 10 though 28 cm through the early 1940's. Given his adorable looks, it is no surprise that he was very popular - and as a result recreated in the form of several early novelties, including a tumbler and this animal doll. Once the factory reopened for business post war in the late 1940's, Waldi again appeared, this time on all fours and on wheels - for several decades - last appearing in 1980.
Keeping up with the pack, here is our second canine-themed hunter, Bazi Doll Boy or Bazili. Bazili appeared in the line from 1950 through 1954; a female version in a matching peasant costume was made at the same time. Bazili is standing and 25 cm tall. Like his cousin the Waldi doll, Bazili is head jointed, standing, and and wears a little green felt suit and hat. His jacket is decorated with three leather buttons. His head and the tops of his hands and feet are mohair, and his body and limbs are made from peach colored felt-like material. When he left the factory, Bazili had a wooden hunting gun on a leather strap that he could sling over his shoulder.
Dachshunds have been an important part of the Steiff line since the 1890's. However, Bazi the short haired Dachshund pattern did not appear until 1949 - one of the early and incredibly popular "pocket pet" items designed to match worldwide demand the collector's needs and interest right after WWII. From the late 1940's through the mid 1970's, in addition to the doll noted above, Bazi appeared sitting, standing, on wheels, and as a music box in sizes ranging from 10 to 25 cm.
So why did Steiff pick dogs - and specifically these two dogs - to be hunters? Both Waldi and Bazi are Dachshunds. The word "dachshund" in German translates into "badger dog", or the dog a hunter would take with him (or her) when they went hunting for these low to the ground, tunneling weasels. So Dachshunds as hunters make perfect Steiff-sense!
Steiffgal hopes this discussion of Steiff's delightful and unusual "hunter dogs" has been right on target for you.
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