Sunday, August 31, 2014

Size Defies When It Comes To Steiff's Adorable Woolen Miniature Mice!

With  just a handful of summer left, Steiffgal thought it might be fun to take little look at one of Steiff's legacy products that truly would fit in the palm of your hand!  It seems that everyone just loves Steiff's woolen miniatures, and for good reason!  They are completely adorable, gorgeously designed, and of course, don't take up too much room (which tends to be an issue the larger one's collection becomes!)  Perhaps the cutest - in Steiffgal's humble opinion - woolies are Steiff's tiny mice.  Check out this tiny two-some and perhaps you'll agree as well!

Size defies when it comes to these lifelike, miniature master pieces!  Here we have an albino white mouse and a grey mouse.  Both are cataloged as 4 cm, made from wool yarn, are standing on all fours, have long tails, and are head jointed.  Their petite feet, which each have four toes, are made of peach colored felt.  Their tiny faces come to life with airbrushed-highlighted felt ears, playful whiskers, bead eyes, and pink painted noses and mouths.  The grey mouse on the left was produced from 1931 through 1943 overall; he also came in white and brown.  The white mouse on the right was made from 1949 though 1984 overall and also came in grey.

Both mice sport IDs which are appropriate for their era of production.  The white mouse has a tiny raised script button and article number 7354/04 (suggesting a specific 1968 through 1984 manufacture date) while the grey mouse has a tiny trailing F button and article number 2504,1 (suggesting a specific 1937 through 1943 manufacturing date.)  These items never had chest tags, and as far as Steiffgal can see, no woolen miniatures ever did.  However, a handful of woolen miniatures are perhaps the only items in the entire Steiff history of production that did not leave the factory with a “button in ear.” Even birds, which clearly lack ears, had a button securing their label around their leg. Woolie ladybugs and hedgehogs do not, and never had, Steiff buttons. There was simply no place to attach them. But their look, feel, and manufacturing make them undoubtedly Steiff.

It is always fun with Steiff to track how designs change - or don't - over time.  This is especially true with beloved and popular items that are produced over a long period, even decades... as is in the case of these mice!  In general, with these two babies, it is clear that their core, basic pattern did not change over time.  And, given that both mice weigh 5 g, that the critical mass of the pattern remained constant over time.  However, there are a few very subtle differences between them.  These include:

  • Their length from nose to fanny.  The white mouse measures 5 cm while the grey mouse measures 4 cm. 
  • Their tails.  The white mouse has an 8 cm tail made from solid peach colored rubber.  The grey mouse has an 8.5 cm tail made from grayish-black stretchy elastic, like an elastic band.  You can see a close up of their tails in the photo above on the left.
  •  Their whiskers.  The white mouse has numerous long, flexible, clear whiskers, while the grey mouse has just a handful of very short, stiff, brownish whiskers.
Let's talk about the size difference first.  Because each Steiff item is made by hand, it is entirely possible that size differences are a result of the touch of individual craftspeople.  It is also conceivable - because each mouse weighs the same (and clearly their bodies make up most of their mass) - that the composition of the woolen fibers used on these items changed over time, and/or aged differently.  

Now their tails and whiskers.  These differences are most likely attributable to materials available on hand at the time of their production, as well as manufacturing improvements to those materials over the decades. It is most interesting that the older grey mouse's tail, which is made from a stretchy material, has not dried out, cracked, or fallen off - which happens alot with older rubber items.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's tiny woolen mice has made a huge and happy difference in your day!

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