Saturday, May 5, 2012

This Vintage Steiff Farmer Is Quite The Charmer!

When it comes to collecting Steiff, it's really important to be "buttoned up" about the legacy behind exceptionally special vintage treasures.   And once in awhile, "the button" itself becomes an important part of the story.  Such is the case - in spades -  with this really special Steiff doll that Steiffgal recently had the pleasure to adopt into her hug.   Let's take a look at this country gentleman and see what makes him so special from the design and historical prospectives.

This vintage farmer is quite the charmer!  Here we have Steiff's 35 cm "Dachau Farmer."   Dachau a town in Upper Bavaria, in the southern part of Germany.  Farmer is five ways jointed and made entirely from felt - except for his footwear.  He is very hard stuffed with excelsior. His face is detailed with black shoebutton eyes, while his other features - mouth, eyebrows, ruddy cheeks, and "needs-a-shave" chin - are all painted by hand.  Farmer wears black pants, a red vest with a white collar, and a blue blazer.  He dons a black floppy hat and has handmade leather boots with tan felt soles.  His clothes are actually part of his body - they cannot be removed.  Steiff produced this design from 1908 through 1928. It is also interesting to note that this particular Dachau farmer design was also produced as a 29 cm roly-poly from 1909-1917.

This doll is really unusual from other dolls produced in the same time period for several reasons.  The three key ones include:

1.  "Button in ear"
It goes without saying that Steiff items are universally known and loved for their "button in ear" branding, which is usually in the left ear or side, if you are facing the item.  However, this particular doll has a button in both ears!  At the turn of last century, Steiff sometimes put a button in each ear of an item if it were a sample of the item.  The button usually said the word "Muster" on it, which means "sample" in German.  This clearly is not the case here!

2.  "Button as decoration"
This item could certainly compete in a Steiff button contest... and even perhaps qualify as having the most buttons on an item - ever!  Including the two ear buttons, Dachau Farmer has a total of eighteen - yes, eighteen - 4mm trailing "f" buttons.  This size button was used in the approximately 1906 through 1925 time frame. His red vest is detailed with sixteen tiny buttons.  Some are right side up, some are upside down.  But they certainly add an interesting touch to his appearance.  Steiffgal has seen Steiff buttons as detailing on shoes, soles, collars, belts, and even some packaging, but never on vests to this extent.

3.  "Facial seam"
Take a close look at Farmer's face.  Notice anything unusual, besides his striking good looks?  Farmer has a HORIZONTAL facial seam.  The vast majority of early turn of last century Steiff felt dolls had VERTICAL facial stitching.  This may be to accommodate the design behind his prominent nose, which is somewhat larger and more pronounced than other Steiff felt dolls of the time.  However, this construction is by far the exception to the rule, and is quite interesting from the collector's perspective.  It wasn't until the early 1930's that Steiff was able to overcome the challenges of felt doll facial construction and produce a doll with a seamless face.

Steiff produced many felt figures from the early 1900's through the 1930's. These models were more reflective of occupations and culture (shepherds, stone cutters, tailors, butchers, shoemakers, soldiers, students, etc.) than playful designs for children. Steiff made at least eight distinct farmers from different geographic areas, indicating how important this profession was at the turn of last century. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of The Dachau Farmer has been a barn-burner for you. 

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


  1. Very interesting....Thanks!

  2. He looks wonderful!!


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