In honor of Valentine's Day, the universal holiday of love, Steiffgal thought she'd introduce you to one of her Steiff cupids! Well, this little guy wasn't designed as the sprite with wings and a bow and arrow - but he certainly plays the role of a super sweetheart really well! Come check out this darling Steiff gnome and see what makes him so interesting from the design and historical perspectives.
This little lovey certainly gets Steiffgal's heart beating in a big way! Here we have Steiff's gnome named Snik. Snik is 35 cm tall, made of felt, and is leg and head jointed. His oversized hands and feet are remarkably detailed with realistic fingers and toes. His ever-happy face comes to life with a long orange mohair beard and eyebrows, bright green and black glass pupil eyes in felt eye pockets, an impish upturned nose, and a open, red smiling mouth. He wears brown felt shorts, a white cotton shirt, a now faded red pointed cap, and a bright purple belted felt vest that has faded to tan over time. You can't help but notice Snik's enormous wooden and leather clogs - just perfect for yard work (but more on that later!) Snik was produced in 25, 35, and 43 cm from 1927 though 1943.
Steiffgal's Snik is based on another very similar felt dwarf (also named Snik) that Steiff produced from 1911 through 1921. Early Snik was made in 22, 30, 43, and 50 cm; he had a purple felt hat and a slightly different facial expression than later Snik. You can see this first Snik pictured here on the left; the photo is from Gunther Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment Book. Early Snik was designed during a most interesting period in the evolution of Steiff dolls. Steiff began commercially producing its first dolls with center-seamed faces around 1904. Most of these were felt; some were velvet. These early dolls were called “caricature” dolls or “charakterpuppe” because they had comical, exaggerated features – such as extremely lean or rotund bodies, huge feet, or cartoon-like faces... much like early and later Snik. In about 1914, Steiff started giving their new doll patterns much more accurate, human proportions, and started moving away from the “charakterpuppe” look. These updated designs became universally embraced for their authenticity, appeal, and charming appearances. So this later Snik, despite his likely production in the late 1920's or early 1930's, is really a nod to Steiff's very early turn of last century “charakterpuppe” doll production and design priorities.
It was a shoe-in that this clog wearing sweetie would be a hit with collectors for over three decades! Gnomes hold a very special place in the hearts of many Germans and have been a part of European popular culture for centuries. These small, humanoid creatures apparently live underground and are considered auspicious (and a bit mischievous) as well as essential for gardening success! Today, it is not uncommon to see small gnome statues in even the most formally planted and tended gardens across Europe! It is said that gnomes have a lifespan of 400 years and "kiss" by rubbings noses and also use nose rubbing as a greeting equivalent to people shaking hands. Like our friend Snik under discussion today, "typical" gnomes have red pointy hats, fluffy beards, dark pants, sturdy working shoes, and a sweet expression that reflects the pleasure that comes from a good day at work.
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Snik has been a petite treat for you.
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