Friday, September 9, 2011

Quackers Over This Remarkable Pair of 1920-era Steiff Ducks

Steiffgal felt like such a lucky duck when she received this inquiry about a pair of fine feathered friends!  Check out this note from a new collector from the Midwest who asks about her colorful "daffy ducks!"  Lisa writes...

"Hi, Steiffgal,

My name is Lisa and I live in llinois.  just started my Steiff collection, and being a bird watcher I naturally gravitated towards Steiff birds. These ducks are 8 inches tall.They stand on two red felt webbed feet. One has a silver 8mm button on the bottom of the foot with a red tag under the button. The other has a hole where the button should have been. I understand the button and tag mean these ducks were made between the years of 1925 to 1935. 

I think the body is mohair I don't know enough about what the stuffing would have been to tell you what it is stuffed with. The body is painted or airbrushed to give these birds a three dimensional effect and as you can see the colors are vibrant! The eyes are of glass and remind me of googly eyed dolls made around this time. The necks also swivel!

If you could tell me anything about these birds, I'd be very happy! 

Thank You Very Much!  Lisa    

Oh, P.S. Can't forget those pink ribbons around their necks! The silk is showing its age though."     

Steiffgal is totally quackers over these delightful ducks!  What Lisa has here is a pair of Steiff's Enten or Ducks.  The ducks are standing, brightly colored, and have swivel necks.  They are made from delightful "tipped" mohair, meaning that just the ends of the yarn strands have intense coloring.  The ducks have red-orange felt beaks and feet and marvelous goofy round black and white glass pupil eyes.  Their silk ribbons appear original.  These were made in 17, 22,  and 28 cm from 1926 through 1929 only.  Lisa's 8 inch pair is most likely the 22 cm size that has shrunk a little over time 

These ducks have three very typical 1920's era design features that make them really interesting from the collector's perspective.  

First, they are "caricatured", meaning that they were designed with exaggerated proportions in order to appear happy, playful, and youthful.  Other Steiff well known caricatured items of the same period include Pip the dog, the "Charleston" animals, and Cheerio the laughing puppy.  Steiff typically was, and still is, pretty literal when designing and producing their items, but the 1920's saw a flurry of of these comically designed patterns.  

Second, they are very brightly colored.  Steiff started really adding bold or happy colors not seen in nature to more and more of their product line from the 1920's onward.  Good examples of other unusually colored items from around the same time period include King Peng the penguin, jewel toned rabbits, and Teddy Rose.   

Thirdly, they have wonderful, google eyes.  Steiff has used many different styles of eyes over time, as they can really give an item an unique and distinctive look.  One of the very first examples of this was in 1909, when the Steiff chimp was redesigned to have felt eye pockets.  It was in the 1920's, around the time of these ducks, Steiff really started experimenting with eye treatments.  These duck eyes really say "I'm just a little goofy, wouldn't you agree?" Great examples of other really effective eye treatments of the late 1920's and early 1930's include Treff the bloodhound (the use of eye pockets to give an item a heavy lidded look), Petsy the baby bear (bright blue eyes to give a very youthful appearance), and Siamy the Siamese cat (colbalt blue eyes to give a very exotic appearance). 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion about Lisa's caricatured Steiff treasures has helped you get your ducks in a row when it comes to understanding what makes them so marvelous!

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

The teddy bear search engine