Saturday, February 8, 2014

Celebrating the Year Of The Horse With Steiff's Fantastic Fillies!

Happy New Year!  No, Steiffgal hasn't completely lost track of time! The world has just welcomed the "Year of The Horse," according to the Chinese calendar.  This equine event starts from Jan. 31, 2014 - the Lunar New Year - and lasts through Feb. 18, 2015.  For people born in 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, and 2002, the next 365 days are yours! (Everyone else click here to find out which animal corresponds to your birth year.)  

According to Chinese tradition, people born in a horse year... "have ingenious communicating techniques and in their community they always want to be in the limelight. They are clever, kind to others, and like to join in a venture career. Although they sometimes talk too much, they are cheerful, perceptive, talented, earthy but stubborn. They like entertainment and large crowds. They are popular among friends, active at work and refuse to be reconciled to failure, although their endeavor cannot last indefinitely."  

In honor of this "mane" event, Steiffgal thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of Steiff's horses from the early 1950's through 1970's.  So saddle up and let' see what makes these pretty ponies so interesting from the design and product development perspectives. 

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This fabulous filly is Steiff's 14 cm Fohlen or foal. She is standing, unjointed, and made from lovely tan velvet. She has a short tan mohair mane and tail. Foal's face is detailed with black and brown pupil eyes, a brown airbrushed nose and mouth, and sweet brown-grey felt ears.  This sweet baby horse was made in 14 and 28 cm from 1952 through 1961. The 28 cm size was the same pattern but produced in mohair.  

It is no surprise that this early post-war horse has her design origins in the 1930's.  Her pattern has clear similarities to a foal pattern that Steiff introduced in 1932.  The original foal was produced in 22, 28, and 35 cm in wool plush through 1943.  This pattern is shown here on the left; the photo is from the 1892-1943 Sortiment Book by Gunther Pfeiffer. As soon as the factory reopened for business after the war, foal was produced in 28 cm in artificial silk plush in 1948, and then in wool plush in the same size from 1949 through 1951. 

Let's rein in the discussion with this next Steiff pony.  Here we have the company's 12 cm Pony, who is standing, unjointed, and made from tan mohair which has been airbrushed with brown spots.  Her tail and mane are made from longer mohair, and her ears are made from felt.  Her face is detailed with brown and black pupil eyes and black airbrushing to indicate her nose, mouth, and other facial contours.   She is ready to hit the trail with her red saddle, halter, and reins.  Pony was produced in 12 and 17 cm from 1951 through 1976; the 12 cm version was also is made on blue wheels from 1954 though 1957 and then again in 1960.  

Like foal, is quite possible that this design is also based on a pre-war design called Spielpferd, or play horse.  This early brown and white pony was produced in 18, 23, and 29 cm in artificial silk plush from 1938 through 1943 and also featured prominent red riding accessories. This pattern is shown here on the left; the photo is from the 1892-1943 Sortiment Book by Gunther Pfeiffer.

This next generation Steiff horse is quite the barn burner!  And, as far as Steiffgal can tell, his design is original and not based on a legacy pattern. Here we have Steiff's 22 cm Shetland Pony named Sheddy. He is standing, unjointed, and made from white dralon which has been detailed with chocolate brown airbrushed highlights. He has a short tan mohair mane and tail. Sheddy's face is detailed with black and brown pupil eyes, a black airbrushed nose and mouth, and sweet felt lined ears.  Overall, he was produced in 22, 35, and 50 cm from 1960 through 1974.  Sheddy was so popular that he was also made as a 55 cm rocking pony from 1960 through 1969 and as a riding pony on wheels in 60 cm from 1960 through 1976. (And just in case you are wondering, the Steiff RCA Electrola Fox dog in Sheddy's photo is not taking a ride on him - he just happened to get caught in the photo in a silly sort of way!)

There's no horsing around when it comes to Steiff's century-plus long relationship with the upscale toy retailer FAO Schwarz.   As a matter of fact, the two companies have been doing business together since around 1906, when FAO Schwarz began featuring Steiff's Teddy bears both in their window displays and sales shelves.  As part of that partnership, Steiff began regularly creating a series of exquisite special editions for FAO Schwarz from the 1950's onward.  This fully accessorized pony is a great example of one of these products.  Pony is standing, unjointed and attired for a full day of fun and play. According to the original FAO Schwarz catalog, she is described as, "... a handsome 8.5 inch steed covered in tan and white mohair plush with flowing white mane and tail. Complete with brindle, saddle, and saddle blanket. An FAO Schwarz exclusive. A toy to excite your child's imagination, to give fun-filled hours, and provide fond memories that happily can last a lifetime."  Pony was produced from 1963 through 1972.   
Giddy-up and check out our final Steiff stallion under discussion today. Here we have the delightful and popular 25 cm Spielpferd Ferdy or Play Horse Ferdy. Ferdy is standing, unjointed, and made from lovely chocolate brown mohair. He has a long white mohair mane and tail. His face is detailed with black and brown pupil eyes, a black airbrushed nose and mouth, and sweet brown mohair ears. And like many members on his family tree, he is ready to ride with his red brindle and reins. This sweet treat was made in 18 and 25 cm from 1965 through 1978.
Winston Churchill once said, "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." Steiffgal hopes it is the same with you in regards to this review of vintage Steiff horses... and wishes everyone a very auspicious Chinese New Year!

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

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