Monday, July 15, 2013

Coming To Your Rescue With This Amazing Lifesized Steiff Saint Bernard Dog

It's the dog days of summer - in a big and Steiffy way - around these parts lately! Check out this note from a reader in North Carolina who asks about a very large, and equally unusual, Steiff "friend for life." Over a series of conversations, Jack writes...
 

"Steiffgal:  I came across your site, and I thought that I would see if you happened to know anything about a St. Bernard dog that I have had since I was 2 years old, I am 45 now! So he has been in the family with me for 43 years.  

The dimensions are as follows: length from nose to rump - 52"; height at head - 33"; and height at rump - 29". 

He weighs in at about 20 pounds and is standing. He does not have a squeaker or make noises of any kind. He was never on wheels. As for the fur, the entire head is made of a soft fur (maybe a polyester), while the entire body seems to be made of a hair-like material with the feel of wool. His nose is made of a vinyl-like black material. The keg around his neck is made of real wood, but it is missing the spigot piece.

You wanted to know if the piece is really a Steiff.  Yes, this is a Steiff, but one of the problems with the piece is that when I was 10, after learning about tools, I removed the ear tag so the dog would not be in any pain. Funny, now is when I am feeling pain thinking of any lost value.
 

As for his history, my father bought him for me at FAO Schwarz in New York City in December, 1971. I asked him recently for more information and he said... 

"I bought it off the floor, it was an FAO Schwarz Christmas exhibit centerpiece. It was big money then. It took a ride with me on the Long Island Railroad home to you, which of course generated many strange looks. It is life size – the Steiff is the same size as Sock." 

Sock was our family's real live Saint Bernard at the time.
 

I also sending along a few more pictures from 1971; these are from scans of old negatives from the Christmas when the dog was given to me. For some reason the wooden keg is not showing in these pictures, but I think my parents turned the collar around so they could hang my stocking from the giant Steiff dog.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide about my big buddy.  I have looked for many years for information on him, without success.

Best,
Jack" 


Jack, here's some very big news - your life sized St. Bernard is indeed a Steiff, and a rare one at that.  He is not cataloged in standard Steiff reference books, which explains why it was difficult to find information on him specifically.  And it is not surprising that he was purchased at FAO Schwarz, as this store had a tradition of selling exclusive life sized dogs in the 1960's, including a 40 cm standing Beagle (available 1965 through 1966) and a lying 135 cm Collie (available in 1966 only.) Although it is not clear if the St. Bernard is an FAO Exclusive, it is certain that very few were made and that they would have only been sold at very high end stores in the USA like FAO Schwarz.  Above please find the single sales sheet that was printed about him, dated June, 1970.  His specific Steiff article number is 4049/10. 
 
Here's what makes this big boy "best of show." He is standing, unjointed, and  "officially" sized at 100 cm (which equals about 40 inches).  According to the sheet, his head and legs are made from dralon (an artificial plush) while his body is made from mohair, which is wool.  Jack's dog appears to have a dralon head and an all mohair body, but it is impossible to tell from the photos alone.  The Saint Bernard has great airbrushing, especially on his face, which really gives him a lifelike appearance and an authentic texture.  In the catalog picture, he is shown without his wooden barrel - but the one on Jack's dog looks to be original, and sometimes catalog pictures do not exactly resemble the final item which is shipped to stores.  
 
It is interesting to note that because of its date of production, Jack's dog is called a "Schautiere" or display animal - not a "studio animal." Steiff only launched the name "Studiotiere" or "Studio animal" in 1979/1980.  So technically, any life sized items produced before that time period are actually "Schautiere."
   
Steiff was certainly barking up the right tree in the 1960's and early 1970's when it came to creating these life-sized canine creations.  And, for some reason, many of them, like Jack's St. Bernard, do not appear in standard Steiff reference books.  So for all of you out there experiencing a little "puppy love" over these collectibles, here are a doggy dozen for your viewing pleasure!  
 
Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display Basset Hound.  He is 75 cm, sitting, and made from mohair plush.  He appeared officially in the line in 1960 and then again in 1967; this document was printed in July, 1967.


Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display Peky Pekingese.  She is 40 cm, standing, and made from Crylor artificial plush.  A very similar model appeared in the line from 1973 through 1975; this document was printed in June, 1970.


Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display Tibetan Terrier.  She is 80 cm, sitting, and made artificial plush.  She does not appear in the standard Steiff reference books.  This document was printed in June, 1970.


Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display Collie.  She is 90 cm, standing, and seems to be made from both mohair and artificial plush.  She does not appear in the standard Steiff reference books.  This document was printed in June, 1970.


Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display Cockie Cocker Spaniel.  He is 75 cm, sitting, and made from mohair plush.  He appeared officially in the line in 1960 and then again in 1967; this document was printed in October, 1967. 


Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display Tessie Schnauzer.  She is 50 cm, standing, and made from Dralon.  A very similar model appeared in the line from 1973 through 1975; this document was printed in June, 1970. 


Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display German Shepherd.  He is 90 cm, standing, and made from mohair plush.  He appeared officially in the line from 1966 through 1967; this document was printed in June, 1967. 


Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display Arco German Shepherd.  She is 100 cm, sitting, and made from mohair plush.  She does not appear in the standard Steiff reference books.  This document was printed in June, 1970. 
 
 
Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display "House Dog."  She is 90 cm, sitting, and made from long grey artificial plush.  She does not appear in the standard Steiff reference books.  This document was printed in November, 1969.


Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display Snobby Poodle.  She is 80 cm, begging, and made from mohair plush.  She appeared officially in the line in 1967 only; this document was printed in October, 1967.


Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display Polar Pomeranian.  She is 60 cm, standing, and made from mohair plush.  She appeared officially in the line in 1960 and then again in 1967; this document was printed in October, 1967. 



Here we have Steiff's Schautier or display Newfoundland Dog She is 100 cm, standing, and seems to be made from both mohair and artificial plush.  She does not appear in the standard Steiff reference books.  This document was printed in October, 1967.

Steiffgal sends lots of Teddy hugs and thanks to Carsten Esser at Teddy Dorado Auctioneers for sharing these marvelous photos from their Steiff archives with us today!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on rare 1960 and 1970-era life sized Steiff dogs has got your tails - and tongues - all awagging! 

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




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