Saturday, January 19, 2013

Good Golly, It's Steiff's Early Dolly!

Oh baby!  That's exactly what Steiffgal exclaimed when she carefully opened the box from London and unwrapped the treasure it held.  Unlike most turn of last century Steiff dolls, this one was actually made for fun and play for kids.  Let's take a look at this most unusual and seldom seen early Steiff baby doll, and see what makes it so special from the design and historical perspective.

This bundle of love is actually called a "throw doll."  The doll itself is 30 cm tall, shaped like a bottle or vase, and is entirely made from felt.  She is arm jointed only.  Her face has the traditional center seam; small blue and black pupil eyes, and a touch of color on her lips.  Her hands are simply constructed but you can still see her fingers.  Her dress, which is integral to her body, is red, has short sleeves, and a red bonnet.   The dress is decorated with cream colored embroidery along the edges and the word "bebe"across the front.  She has little flat black shoes on her base, which you can see on the picture below.  When she was new, she had a little ruffle on her bonnet, a white tie under her chin, and a "Mama" tilt style working voice.  

This delicate dolly was in production from 1908 through 1921She was made in white felt, red felt, and red velvet in 30 cm only.  She was called "Baby Doll Mausi" from 1908 through 1910 and simply Dolly from 1910 onward.  It is interesting to note that Steiff also produced the identical design in white mohair and red mohair; these appeared in the line from 1913 through 1917You can see what these dolls looked like when they were new in the picture below on the left.  They are taken from Gunther Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment Book.

Despite it's simple pattern, Steiff produced Dolly with a few variations.  Some seemed to have mohair wigs, others did not.   Steiffgal has even read about a smaller 25 cm version with silk arms!  The dress stitching also varied somewhat, with some dresses having elaborate embroidery around the waist, necklines, and bottoms, while others had simple lines.  Most interestingly, apparently the name across the front could be customized; in this case, "bebe" implies this Dolly may have been made for the French market.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's unusual early baby dolls has been a delightful playdate for you.

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1 comment:

  1. Such a sweet doll. They were way ahead of their time in creating dolls for play. This creation would still look contemporary if put on the market today.

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