Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fawning Over This Lovely Vintage Reclining Steiff Deer

Every Steiff enthusiast has a few extra special items in their collection that are truly deer - ahem, dear... to their heart.  Those treasures that seem to truly capture the essence of the Steiff brand, its breathtaking designs, and impeccable quality.  Steiffgal recently welcomed such a piece to her hug, and in all honesty, cannot stop fawning over it.  Take a look at this vintage Steiff forest friend and see what makes her so unique from the product design and construction perspectives.

Steiffgal's not lying when she says this reclining deer is one special collectible.  This sweet fawn is lying, unjointed, and made from light brown mohair.  Her little legs are bent and folded over in such a way to appear like she is relaxing peacefully, as she would in a forest in nature.  She has a tiny,  bump-out style tail. Her precious face is detailed with a black hand embroidered nose which is highlighted with a tan stitch; black button eyes; a spot of red to indicate her lips; and large, pert, all mohair ears that have a distinctively triangular shape to them.  The mohair on her facial area is slightly shorter than on her body and limbs.  She retains her long trailing"f" style Steiff button and traces of a yellow ear tag. Fawn was made in 14 cm only from 1934 through 1943.  

From a design and construction perspective, this fabulous fawn has two really special features of note.  

The first of course is her remarkable front leg shape, design, and assembly.  Her two front limbs literally fold over and tuck underneath her.  So of course the question comes up - how did Steiff create this effect?  It would seem almost impossible to cut, sew, and stuff such a small area given its location and scale to the rest of the item.  So what's the secret?  Steiff created this effect by putting a piece of bendable metal wire in the front legs during her manufacturer.  The legs were assembled straight out, but then bent gently into place during finishing.  You can see her underside construction here on the left - don't worry, she's just posing for the camera here!

Steiffgal's not going out on a limb to say that this front leg construction is quite unusual.  As a matter of fact, the only other item that comes immediately to mind as also having this wired front leg detail is Steiff's pre-war lying sheep.  This sweetie was produced in 14 cm only in lamb's wool plush from 1937 through 1939 - the same size and production era as the deer under discussion in this post.  This sheep is pictured here on the left. 

The second is a bit more subtle but no less interesting in terms of ingenuity.  One cannot help but notice the elegant and lifelike lines of the lying fawn, especially around her back hip area.  It turns out that on both sides of her hips, she has an unusual "swoosh" shaped insert into her mohair.  These are in perfect symmetry on her body. These inserts have the effect of adding texture and a rounded differentiation to this area of her body, as well as physically bumping out her hips in a most authentic way.  The swoosh is almost "patched" into this area and it is mind-boggling to figure out from a manufacturing perspective how this was done!  But, thankfully the skilled Steiff seamstresses knew the secret, and we can all love and appreciate their handiwork today.  One of the fawn's swoosh inserts is pictured here on the left.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's truly wonderful and tranquil lying fawn has added a little rest and relaxation to your day.

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

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