Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sit And Stay And Check Out This Fabulous Early Steiff Bulldog

Steiffgal's just going to have to take the bully pulpit here in reference to one of her latest finds.  Always on the lookout for the next great discovery, Steiffgal was floored to spot this delightful doggie on eBay with the most reasonable "buy it now" price.  She didn't think twice before hitting the purchase button... and is she ever glad she did!  Let's take a look at this beautiful Bully and see what makes him so special from a design and historical perspective. 

Bully's Collar and Closure
It's time to sit and stay and check out this 17 cm Steiff bulldog.  Bully is sitting, head jointed, and made from black and white mohair. His face and muzzle area are tan velvet, which has darkened a little over time. His ears are lined in wire and are poseable. Bully has very large brown and black glass pupil eyes and a black, hand-embroidered nose.  He has black hand embroidered claws on his four paws. Most remarkably, Bully retains his original and traditional horsehair collar.  This is made from a long, thin strip of material which is doubled over width-wise; the horsehair fibers are sewn in between the faces of the material.  The collar is held together with a little knot under Bully's chin, and is finished off with a little brass bell.  A close up of the collar's construction is pictured here on the left. The horsehair collar was a typical accessory of the 1920s and indicated a "regal" nature of the item wearing it.  In terms of Steiff ID, this pooch is blue ribbon all around, he has his long trailing “ff” style Steiff button and his crisp, fully legible red ear tag which reads "Steiff Original geschutzt 3317 Made in Germany."

Bully's Ear Tag and Button
Steiff introduced Bully to the world in 1927 and he was an instant sensation. He was modeled on the French Bulldog—the “it” companion of those in the know all across Europe at the time. Like this bulldog under discussion today, all Steiff Bully dogs  were head jointed, had large brown and black glass pupil eyes, a hand-embroidered black nose and a simple snout and jaw constructed to give him his requisite jowls. Most were black and white or orange and white, but a rare blue-and-white version was also produced. Bully was made in velvet and mohair, as well as sitting and standing, in sizes ranging from 10 to 50 centimeters. 

11 cm Bully on a Pincushion, c. 1928-29
Like most popular Steiff patterns, Bully's basic design was integrated into many product variations.  Bully was produced as a pincushion, music box, dog-doll, nightdress bag, and even a puppet, among other product line extensions.  Today, these Bully product line extension characters are of great interest to collectors; a fantastic 11 cm orange and white Bully on a mohair pincushion was a highlight at the 2013 March Teddy Dorado Steiff auction.  This fantastic example is pictured here on the left.  The original Bully appeared in the Steiff catalog through 1939; today, this precious pooch is one of the most universally desirable and sought-after pre-war Steiff designs among collectors.  He has been replicated numerous times over the past few decades - most recently as a 750 piece Worldwide edition in 14 cm in black and tan velvet in 2012.  Even these newer models are coveted by enthusiasts all over the world.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's Bully dogs has been worthy of a blue ribbon for you.

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

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