Sunday, August 10, 2014

This Sweet Steiff Spaniel Is Worthy Of A Crown!

Best of show!  Few could argue that Steiff's early canines are truly top dogs!  One of Steiffgal's most favorite 1920's-era pooch pattern is that of Charly, the King Charles Spaniel.  In real life, this breed was one of the "it" dogs of the 1920's.  In addition to being a beloved pet, a "Charly" was often considered a "style accessory," accompanying well dressed society ladies on their important business of the day.

Steiff introduced Charly in the late 1920's, a time of great creativity at Steiff.  Many dog patterns were also debuted around the same time; this was in part due to the overwhelming popularity of the "grandmother of all Steiff dogs," Molly the puppy, who debuted in 1925.   The original Steiff Charly was produced both sitting (10, 14, 17, 22, 25, 30, and 35 cm) and standing (7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 22, 25, and 36 cm); the two versions were head-jointed only. Charly dogs were made from light brown or orange-tipped mohair and white mohair; had extremely long fuzzy ears; large, childlike brown and black-pupil eyes; a very detailed facial seam structure; and a prominent tail. Their filling was soft kapok, meaning that they were lighter in weight and more cuddly than other animals stuffed with crunchy excelsior. Sitting and standing Charly appeared in the line overall through 1939. You can see examples of sitting and standing Charly dogs here on the left.

Knowing a good thing when they saw it, the designers at Steiff recognized that Charly would be a great source for “theme and variation” product introductions, due to his popularity with collectors.  As a result, he appeared in various forms throughout the line through 1940 or so.  Highlights included:

A pin cushion, in two styles - a sitting and standing version.  Both were mounted on a square mohair pincushion—the sitting version was produced from 1929 through 1932, and the standing version was produced from 1930 through 1932.  The standing version is pictured above; the photo is from Christie's.

A puppet.  Charly was produced as a 17 cm mohair puppet from 1928 through 1939.  If you click here, you will go to a page where you can see a number of Charly puppets and others from the same time frame.  This collection website is one of Steiffgal's most favorite; the treasures  are truly phenomenal and very well displayed!  

Musical animals. Steiff produced musical Charly dogs in both sitting and standing styles from 1928 through 1931 overall. The sitting musical Charly was made in 17 and 22 cm. His music box was activated by squeezing his sides. For some smaller versions of the standing musical Charly, his music box was a bit more unusual; in order to play the music you would pull the tail, not wind it. Steiffgal cannot think of another Steiff music box character that was activated this way. Standing musical Charly was produced in 17, 22, and 25 cm; a medium sized standing musical Charly is shown above.  The photo is from Christies.

Tiny 10 cm woolen Nomotta woolen miniatures.  These were made in both sitting and standing patterns from 1935 through 1937 overall.  Their bodies were "pom-pom" style while their ears were made from mohair and were lined in felt. Despite their demunitive size, these petite treats were distinctly "Spaniel" with their dear looks and prominent tails!

A charming child's purse.  Charly Purse was produced in 22 and 25 cm from 1927 through 1940; in this version, Charly was head jointed and his belly was hollow like a pouch and lined in velvet.  You can see the Steiff's original Charly purse is shown above.  It is interesting to note that this purse was reissued as a North American Limited edition replica in 2005.  For more about this fun and functional item, please click here!

A pajama bag.  Charly Nachthemdentasche or "Charly Night Dress Bag" was produced in 30 cm from 1930 through 1935.  In this version, Charly's head was sewn onto a 30 cm x 30 cm mohair zippered bag that was designed to hold children's sleeping clothes during the day.  This unusual item is shown above; the photograph is from Pfeiffer's Steiff 1892-1943 Sortiment. 
 
And perhaps the rarest Charly of all - a Pupp Animal Doll.  This version was 28 cm and dressed in a playful purple outfit.  He appeared in the line only from 1929 through 1930.  In 2010, a Pupp Charly realized over $8,300 at auction at Christie's in London; he is pictured above.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's wonderful Charly dogs has made you feel like King for the day. 

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

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