Sunday, February 12, 2012

Another Stinkin' Steiff Mystery!

Yipes! Another stinkin' Steiff mystery!  But this one smells much more like roses than anything else!  Check out this little mystery critter Steiffgal stumbled upon during a random Google image search.  She was looking for photos of a Steiff skunk, and this little guy popped up.  When she traced the picture back to the host website, it turned out he was for sale at a little antique store in Maine!  What luck!  But just who is he?

In black and white terms, here's what we do know about him.  Skunk is 10 cm tall, standing in what Steiff refers to as the "begging position", and unjointed.  His hands and feet are made from double thick felt. His body is made from short black and white mohair, while his bushy tail, which is positioned at a 90 degree angle to his body, is made from very long black and white mohair.  He has a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth, and brown and black pupil eyes.  His tiny ears are rounded and made from a single layer of white mohair.

... and what we don't.  Skunk doesn't have any Steiff ID at all, nor is he mentioned in any Steiff reference books that Steiffgal knows of, including the collector's favorite Steiff Sortiment Books by Gunther Pfeiffer.  However, it is Steiffgal's strongest suspicion that he was made by Steiff.  Here's why!

1.  Mystery skunk has an uncanny resemblance to Steiff's begging Diggy Badger from 1959 through 1966.  The Diggy pattern came in 10 and 15 cm.  Mystery skunk has the same size, physical construction, body position, and facial expression as this well known pattern - except for his dramatic tail!  Here you can see mystery skunk on the left, and Diggy on the right for comparison.

2.  Mystery skunk has the same material and general design pattern as Steiff's classic standing skunk from 1962 through 1963 - except for his felt hands and feet.  Classic skunk is "barefoot" in this regard!  Classic skunk came in velvet and mohair in the 10 cm size, and all mohair in the 25 cm size.   Here you can see the 10 cm velvet version for comparison.

But following the scent of some important clues, Steiffgal is all but certain that this little skunk was made by Steiff. Mystery skunk's ears are extremely tiny, so it is very possible that the button (which would have been the raised script version which fastened on with a few prongs) just fell out over time, as there was not that much fabric to hang onto!  She also feels that he was made as a sample or prototype of a possible general line skunk, based on the already successful Diggy pattern.  

Here's why.  The standard line skunk was only in the catalog for two years.  This means one of a few things.  Either the standard line skunk sales just weren't all that good, and/or from a manufacturing standpoint, they were too complicated and expensive to make.  So the mystery skunk was most likely produced around 1961 as an option to what the standard line skunk could be, or in 1963 as an alternative for the standard line skunk which was on its way out.  Either way, this mystery skunk was not put into wide scale production, and the next skunk  - a cosy version - was introduced in the line a few years later, in 1969.  Cosy Skunk is pictured here on the left. 

Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed sniffing out this little mystery with her!

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

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