Saturday, June 15, 2013

Steiff Pug Hugs To All The Dads Out There For Father's Day!

Every Dad deserves lots of hugs on Father's Day!  And, in Steiffgal's home, real life pugs are responsible for alot of the household cuddles!  So, to honor Steiffguy, the world's finest "Doggie Daddy," Steiffgal would like to share the history of Steiff's precious pugs with you.  Let's take a look at some early and later examples, and see what makes them so interesting from the design and historical perspectives.

Although they are never tardy for dinner, Pugs were a relatively late addition to the Steiff dog line.  The first Steiff pugs appeared in the catalog in 1916.  They were standing, made from gray mohair plush, and had very authentic looking curly tails.  Their faces were detailed with a somewhat prominent muzzle, a big black nose, and brown and black pupil eyes.  They were produced in 17 and 22 cm; both sizes wore a leather collar, were mounted on a pair of natural wood colored eccentric wheels, and came with a pull cord.  It is interesting to note that this pattern, unlike many other dog patterns, only came on wheels, and was not produced sitting or in any other configuration. These earliest rolling pugs are pictured here on the left, the photo is from the 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment book.  

The next Steiff pug pattern had tongues a-wagging. This little ball of love was simply called "Mops" which is German for pug.  He was rather ball shaped, sitting, and made of tan and white mohair.  He has a proportionally large head, which was detailed comically with felt backed black button eyes, a simple mouth, and a huge red felt tongue.  He left the factory wearing a silk ribbon.  Mops was only produced in 14 cm from 1925 through 1927.  He does, in many ways, have the look and feel of a better known Steiff dog of the same era, Pip, who was designed after a famous cartoon character of the time.  Mops pictured here on the left, the photo is from the 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment book.  

Steiff's final pre-war pug was such a doll - literally!  From the late 1920's onward, Steiff created a series of animal-dolls that were made from the mohair heads of usually well known Steiff characters, mounted on a somewhat standard hard stuffed cloth body with floppy arms.  The tops of the hands and the feet of these dolls were mohair as well.  Each animal doll was playfully dressed in everyday clothes, country-specific outfits, or pants and tops specific to a profession (like a farmer, explorer, painter, etc.)  Steiff did make a pug dog doll in 14, 22, and 28 cm from 1932 through 1935.  They came dressed in a variety of different outfits, including a sailor suit, pajamas, playsuits, dresses, and shirts and trousers.  It is interesting to note that the pug head used for this dog doll is quite unique and as far as Steiffgal can tell, was never used again before or after this product - which is too bad because it was just incredibly adorable.   Don't you agree?  The Sailor version of the Pug doll is pictured here on the left, the photo is from the 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment book.  

It's time to jump three decades to the 1960's, when pugs again were a feature in the Steiff line.  In 1960, Steiff introduced "Mopsy" to the world, and she quickly became a collector's favorite for her sweet and silly looks, and most puggy personality.  Mopsy was sitting, made from tan mohair, and was head jointed.  She had a very prominent muzzle, large black and white google-style eyes, and turned-in ears - much like the real dog.  And you could not miss perhaps her finest feature...  her red, somewhat asymmetrically angled tongue!  Mopsy appeared in 12 and 22 cm until 1981.  She was also produced as a 17 cm hand puppet from 1960 through 1978. 

If you liked Mopsy, then you'll have a ball with this last vintage Steiff pug.  In 1960 and 1961, Steiff produced a series of “ball” animals; Mopsy (a pug), Sula (a cat), and a rabbit. Each of these big-bottomed dralon collectibles was 16 cm, head jointed, had front facing limbs, and a squeaker.  Like her cousin Mopsy, Ball Mopsy had black and white google eyes and turned in ears.  Ball Mopsy had a very funny design detail... a little chest bib of mohair on her otherwise dralon body.    She also had little brown airbrushed paw detailing on her feet pads.  Ball Mopsy, and all the other ball style items of this era, are hard to find, especially in good condition—because they were designed to be used as playthings and stuffed with foam, which tends to deteriorate over time.  

Steiff has featured several versions of pugs in the line within the last 10 years or so. In partnership with the AKC (American Kennel Club), the company produced a mother/baby pug pair in soft plush for FAO Schwarz. Among others, the company also made a delightful red and white candy striped fabric pug with a red velvet facial mask and ears; a little plush pug keyring; and most recently, a sweet pug named Lielou made from light tan alpaca.  And looking forward, it is Steiffgal's strongest wish that someday Steiff makes a black alpaca pug identical to the one pictured here to the left... and names her Bobo, of course.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's pugs has not been a pugnacious experience for you... and a Happy Pappy's Day to you as well!

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

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading this post! I love pugs. I saw Lielou in a store window display yesterday and have not been able to stop thinking about her since! (Which is what led me to your wonderful post on the history of pugs in the Steiff collections.)

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