Sunday, November 13, 2011

Getting Into The Swing Of Things With This Remarkable Vintage Steiff Duck

Just about anyone interested in vintage Steiff couldn't help but go quackers over today's fabulously feathered find!  This past weekend, Steiffgal had the enormous honor and pleasure of hosting a Steiff collector's event in Cambridge, Massachusetts at the Cambridge Historical Society.  Enthusiasts from five states attended and brought many spectacular treasures from their collections, including "Merry Christmas", a delightful 1920's era Ted; a 1903 era velvet lion with an elephant button; cherished baby kittens from childhood, and many other delightful "friends for life."  However, one attendee from Connecticut brought something Steiffgal had never actually seen in person - a Steiff rattle with a twist, literally.  Let's take a look at this rarity and see what makes it so interesting and unique from the collector's perspective. 

This ducky delight is called a Schwing Ente or Swing Duck.  She is made from from white mohair with a double thick felt orange beak and single thick orange felt legs and feet.  She has black button eyes which are backed by red felt circles.  Her body is unjointed and of a relatively simple design - she appears to be playfully swimming along given the way her legs and feet are angled backwards.  Duck is connected to an approximately 6" long brown hardwood handle.  With a simple wrist rotation, the duck swings along merrily in a circle and makes a whistling sound while doing so.  Swing duck was produced in yellow and white mohair in 10 and 12 cm from 1924 through 1943.  Because this particular model has a tiny, 4mm trailing "f" style Steiff button, it is Steiffgal's best guess that it was produced in the very early part of this time frame, as Steiff introduced a larger, 8mm button in 1925.  

The collector from Connecticut is one lucky duck finding this great item.  Because Swing Duck was designed for exactly that purpose - swinging - is it most unusual to find one in such nice condition that actually still spins and whistles after almost 90 years!  

Swing-Ente is a great example of a product line extension based on a Steiff all time best seller.  Steiff introduced this basic style of "swimming style" duck in felt in its debut catalog of 1892.  In 1914 - 1929, she was produced in mohair in 10, 12, and 14 cm on eccentric wooden wheels as a delightful pull toy.  This pattern was also produced as a duck chain (a mother duck with up to five baby ducks trailing along as a pull toy, pictured here on the left) from 1925 - 1936; a hanging baby carriage toy from 1914 - 1933; and as a series of brightly hued "play ducks" from 1926 - 1933.  Steiffgal can only find reference to two other models of "swing toys" in the Steiff literature; all are based on birds.  These include a 12 cm "swing goose" produced from 1933 - 1934 and a 12 cm "swing chick" produced from 1933 - 1934.  Post war, this basic swimming duck design - with a few updates - appeared in the line through 1978. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this most unusual swinging chick has made you feel like dancing, too!

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

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