Saturday, August 2, 2014

This Musical Steiff Cocker Spaniel Can't Smile Without You!

They say that music soothes the savage beast. So given all the unsettling news that seems to be everywhere these days, Steiffgal thought this singing sweetie might just add a touch of joy to your day! Perhaps we can wind things down a notch by introducing you to "Music Cockie," who has one of Steiff's more "dynamic" music box feature designs. Come see what makes makes this maestro so interesting from the product design perspective.

This musical Cockie Cocker Spaniel just can't wait to break out in song for you. She is 17 cm, head jointed, and sitting. Cockie is made from black and white mohair. Her ears, rear, and tail are made from long wavy black mohair; the sides of her head are made from short black mohair. Her body and limbs are made from long wavy white mohair, while her muzzle and face are made from short white mohair. Cockie's adorable face is detailed with a huge, open, velvet lined mouth, a hand embroidered nose, and black and brown pupil eyes. She has a tail winding style music box, meaning that her musical talents are "activated" by turning her tail in a circular motion. You can see how that works in the video above.

It is interesting to note Steiff only produced one other "tail winding style" musical animal. This was a cat named Kitty. Like Cockie, Kitty was also 17 cm. She had a closed mouth and was made from white and grey mohair. Both Cockie and Kitty appeared in the line from 1955 to 1957, and then again in 1961. It is not unusual to find both models lacking the mohair covering on their tails, probably because this area got so much attention and wear from play. 

Steiff's Musical Cockie represents a relatively unusual example in the range of music box animals the company has produced over time. High quality, European made music boxes became available on a large, commercial scale in the mid 1920's. Seeing the potential in this, Steiff created a line of musical animals based on its most popular items of the era. And, for almost 100 years since then, the company has had musical offerings in the line - although the music box style and activation has changed significantly over the years.

Steiff's "Music-Animals" made their grand stage debut in 1928. This chorus included a five ways jointed Teddy bear, a brown tipped Petsy the baby bear, Bully the bulldog, Molly the puppy, Cheerio the laughing puppy, Fellow the puppy, Charly the King Charles Spaniel, Treff the bloodhound, Fluffy the cat, a clown, and a standing lamb.  Most had a "press and release" style music box; standing Charly's music box was activated by pulling on his tail. These items appeared overall in sizes ranging from 17 through 43 cm. However, despite their charming appearance and musical features, these collectibles were quite expensive and few were made.  Unfortunately at the time, sales were minimal - probably because of cost -  and they were last featured in the catalog in 1930/1931.  

After a two-decade long intermission, Steiff began orchestrating musical animals again in the 1950's.  In 1950, the company featured three new musical animals:  a "Music Bazi," a "Music Teddy Baby," and a "Music Kitty." Their music boxes were activated by gently squeezing their bodies up and down like an accordion.  All of these early post war musical animals appeared in the line in 1950 through 1951 only. Then in 1951, Steiff introduced "Music Teddy," whose design was based on the updated "Original Teddy Bear" pattern that was also introduced in 1951. Right the middle of his belly was a red felt circle that had the word "music" printed in white on it. When this spot was squeezed and released, it played a sweet lullaby.  Music Teddy was so popular that Steiff created "Music Jocko,"  based the company's standard line 35 cm brown mohair chimpanzee. Like Music Teddy, Music Jocko had a squeeze-activated music box implanted in his belly, which was also noted by a red felt disk on his belly. Both Music Jocko and Music Teddy (pictured above on the left) appeared in the line from 1951 through 1957; their production time slightly overlapping with Musical Cockie under discussion here.  

As music box technologies because less expensive and more durable, Steiff began putting them in more playthings designed specifically for babies and children. Since the 1970's, Steiff has made numerous plush, washable cotton, and velour musical items. Unlike Steiff's earlier models, these had wind up or pull cord musical mechanisms, and in some cases, the music box could be removed so the outer shell could be laundered. Today, Steiff frequently puts music boxes into child-friendly products.  Music boxes are also featured in "higher end" collectibles and special editions (like 2004's "American Pride" bear, pictured above on the left), and have become a regular feature in special Christmas and co-branded items

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's Musical Cockie has added a happy tune to your day. 

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

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