Sunday, November 2, 2014

Taking The Chill Out Of Your Day With This Darling Steiff Snowman Puppet

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas... at least around these parts! This morning, Steiffgal had the unexpected pleasure (or pain, depending on your perspective) of waking up to snow showers in her town! And the white stuff got her thinking about one of her favorite little Steiff oddities that is coming more and more seasonally appropriate each day! Check out this happy handful to see why he's worthy of a round of applause!

Let's set the stage and introduce this great Steiff hand puppet. Here we have the company's Hand Sneba. The German word for snow is Schnee, so his name makes perfect sense. Sneba is 17 cm tall and made from a white synthetic fabric called dralon. He is detailed with black pom-pom style buttons up his front, an orange felt nose to resemble a carrot, a red hand embroidered mouth, shiny black eyes, and a black felt hat. When he was new, he had just a touch of pink on his cheeks and you can just barely make that out now on this example. Sneba's head and the tips of his hands are stuffed with excelsior. His button and yellow tag are located on the edge of the front of his body.  Like most snowmen, this one only lasted a very short period! He appeared in the Steiff catalog for one year only - 1964 - making him one of the rarer post war puppets created by Steiff.

Like many things we all know and love, Sneba has cold hands but a warm heart! And despite his unassuming looks and personality, he has three very interesting features from the collector's perspective. 

First is his design. Unlike the vast majority of Steiff puppets produced by the company before the early 1980's, Sneba appears to be a totally original design and not based on a popular standard line character. The only other somewhat period snowman designed item Steiffgal can think of is the 25 cm white wool plush snowman that the company designed as a US exclusive in 1955, who is pictured here on the left. However, as you can tell, there really isn't any design overlap between him and Sneba.  This photo is from Gunther Pfeiffer's 1947-2003 Steiff Sortiment book.

Second is his material. During Sneba's period of production, Steiff made most animal puppets out of mohair, and character puppets with molded heads and felt and/or fabric bodies - not dralon. Sneba is in good - but extremely rare - company with Hand Gora, Steiff's dralon gorilla puppet from 1961 through 1964. Gora is pictured here on the left for your review. She is 17 cm; her body and head are made from long and short grey dralon and her hands are made from short tan dralon.  Her face comes to life with peach colored tan felt ears, black and white google style eyes, and extensive airbrushed features.  

And topping up reason number three is his accessory. Sneba wears a handsome black felt chapeau. Like many of Steiff's legacy dolls, Steiff's earlier "people" puppets generally wore head wear to complement their well designed outfits. Except for Steiff's Hand Bear Sailor puppet from 1972 through 1975, Steiffgal cannot think of another Steiff non-human puppet donning a hat. Hand Bear Sailor is pictured her on the left for your review. He is made from a very golden yellow colored mohair. His head is hard stuffed with excelsior, while the rest of his body is floppy. His paws are made of tan velvet material. His face is detailed with large black and white google eyes and a black plastic nose. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of Steiff's interesting Sneba snowman puppet has taken a bit of the winter chill out of your day!

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