Friday, March 30, 2012

Yapping All About A Very Special Steiff Companion Dog

Good friends are those who follow you around, wherever you may end up.  And it is not surprising to learn about Steiff companions that do the same.  After all, Steiff pals are truly "Friends for Life!"  And such is the case of this little canine... Check out this question from Peter, who writes from Poland:

"Hello Steiffgal,

I'm writing to you from Poland about my little dog. I think he is an Airedale terrier? He is in a sitting position and is about 4.5 inches or 11cm high. He is made from soft mohair (I think!) He has a brass Steiff badge in his ear, but no yellow tag. He has amber coloured glass eyes and what appears to be a black glass or black hard nose. He has a red original collar and is brown with black markings. 

I have had him for some years now and think he originated from Germany. I would be grateful if you could tell me anything about my little companion.

With kind regards Peter from Poland, an Ex Pat from the UK"
What Peter has here is a little dog with a very big name... Klaeff Schaeferhund, or Klaeff German Shepherd.   Yup, a German Shepherd, not an Airedale.  Klaeff is is sitting, made from brownish grey plush, and unjointed.  His face is detailed with little brown and black pupil eyes and a simple black button nose.  He was made only in 11 cm from 1978 through 1981.  Steiffgal has a particular affinity to Klaeff as he was the very first Steiff item she bought from eBay way back in 2003. 
It is interesting to note that the word "Klaeff" in German roughly translates to the word "yap" in English - a noisy term that many dog owners are quite familiar with!
German Shepherds have a long and prominent place in the history of Steiff dog production.  They have been featured almost continuously in the line since 1923.  An early model of the breed is pictured here above on the left.  Perhaps the best known Steiff German Shepherd is Arco, who was introduced in 1937.  Pre-war Arco was made from mohair and had prominent, felt lined ears. He was made standing on wheels (in 35, 43, 50, 60, and 70 cm), standing (in 14, 22, 28, 35, 43, 50, and 60 cm), and sitting (in 17, 22, and 28 cm) from 1937 to 1943.  During this time, Arco was sometimes also referred to as "The Police Dog."   A sitting late 1930's Arco is pictured above on the right.  Early post war, Steiff produced a standing version of Arco in 10, 17, and 22 cm from 1951 through 1956 which strongly resembled the pre-war version.  A 43 and 50 cm standing version on wheels was also manufactured from 1949 through 1956. 

In 1957, classic Arco had his final "makeover" designed to modernize his appearance.  The most noteworthy changes included an overall lightening of his mohair and airbrushing, and the addition of a pink-red felt tongue on larger models. The presence - or absence - of a tongue on Arco is one of the key clues collectors use to date Steiff's German Shepherds!  The "newest" classic mohair Arco was produced standing (in 10, 17, 22, and 35 cm), lying (in 22, 35, and 50 cm), and on wheels (in 43 and 50 cm) and appeared in one form or another in the line from 1957 through 1976.  A 35 cm standing Arco from the mid-1960's is pictured here on the left.  Klaeff quickly followed in 1978, but clearly did not have the staying power as his forefather Arco. Post Klaeff, Steiff has represented the breed in the line through a series of various soft plush models through the present day. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion about Klaeff and his legacy has shepherded your opinion about this piece in the most positive direction possible!

PS:  Peter sent along another photo of his Klaeff along with his real-life counterpart Sheba!  It is posted here below... of course you can see the "familial resemblance!"  Enjoy!

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