Sunday, November 16, 2014

It's The Best Of All Worlds With This Vintage Steiff Bear Doll

Who deserves a standing ovation? Why, this precious Steiff Puppbaer or Doll bear, of course! Steiffgal admits to having a huge plush crush on this bitty boy, a recent addition to her Teddy hug. Not only is he totally adorable, he also has a bit of a mystery to him. But more on that later. Let's first take a look and see what makes him so interesting from the design and historical perspectives.

This Teddy Baby doll is truly the best of all worlds. He has the head of the beloved Steiff Teddy baby design, the body of a doll, and a charming, well fitting outfit made from period fabrics. He stands about 22 cm tall, is head jointed, and has dangling arms. His head, hands, and the tops of his flat feet are made from light yellow woolen plush. His body and limbs are made from a flesh colored fabric with a somewhat velvety finish. His face is detailed with brown and black glass pupil eyes, a brown hand embroidered nose, and a smiling, tan felt lined mouth. He wears green trousers and a red and white calico shirt - which are original to him - and a tiny old fashioned brass basketball charm around his neck, which is not. Overall, this model was made in 14, 22, and 28 cm from 1931 through 1943.

It is interesting to note that over his production period, Steiff's Teddy Baby doll was dressed in about 11 various outfits.  This particular example is in outfit #8, which is documented simply as, "green trousers, red blouse." Outfit #8 was manufactured from 1935 through 1942.

Although Steiff produced dressed animals, especially monkeys, bears, and rabbits, since the turn of last century, it was not until the late 1920's that the company produced a true animal doll such as the Teddy Baby under discussion here. In 1929, Steiff introduced a Pupp-Bully, Charly, and Treff. All were 28 cm and only remained in the line through 1930. Between 1931 and 1932, Steiff debuted a number of animal dolls, including a cat (pictured here on the left), duck, pug dog, and a boy and girl rabbit couple. And like the Teddy Baby doll, all were made in 14, 22, and 28 cm and appeared in a number of different outfits over time. In the mid to late 1930’s, Steiff would go on to produced a delightful series of additional pupp-animals including an elephant doll, Waldi the Dachshund as a hunter, Scotty the Terrier as a Scotsman, and Arco the German Shepherd as a farmer. However, due to supply restrictions and geopolitical realities, production on all of these doll models ceased by 1943. 

Once the factory reopened for toy production at the end of WWII, Steiff briefly resumed their manufacturing of their “pupp-animals.” In 1949, a pair of fully dressed, 25 cm wool-plush Teddy Baby dolls appeared in the line; these were quickly followed with the introduction of a pair of 25 cm blond and brown mohair dressed Teddy Baby dolls in the early and mid 1950’s. Steiff continued the production of their pre-war pair of boy-girl rabbit dolls but renamed the set Hansili in 1954. They also extended this doll animal line to include two additional models of rabbit pairs, a Dachshund doll boy and girl set (pictured here on the left), and a fox doll boy and girl set. Overall, all of these sets were discontinued by the early 1960s, probably due to their highly detailed, labor-intensive and costly production requirements.
Ok, so perhaps you are wondering by now what is so mysterious about this little Teddy Baby doll. When Steiffgal was doing a close inspection on him, she noticed something entirely unexpected. He has a US Zone tag sewn into his leg seam. But that would suggest a production date in the c. 1947 to 1953 time frame. So what's going on here? Only Teddy knows for sure, but here are a two scenarios:
  1. It is entirely possible that he was produced in the late 1930's or early 1940's, put in storage during the war, pulled out after the war, labeled, and sold in the late 1940's to early 1950's.
  2. It is also entirely possible that he was indeed made as part of the early post war production. As noted above, the literature documents that Steiff did produce a 25 cm wool plush Teddy Baby doll from 1949 through 1950. Perhaps Steiff also made a few of them in 22 cm at the time as well.
Either way, given the US Zone tag, Steiffgal is all but certain he did not leave Giengen until at least 1947, and that his "birthdate" is somewhere in the 1935 to 1950 time frame. Unfortunately, Ted's primary IDs have been lost to time. However, given his documentation and look and feel, Steiffgal suspects that originally he had either a short trailing F button, a blank button, or a raised script button.

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on this precious Steiff Teddy Baby Doll has been as enjoyable as child's play for you!

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