Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ringing In The Holidays With A Very Special And Early Steiff Lamb

'Tis the season of bells. It seems like sleigh bells, the bells rung by the Salvation Army volunteers manning red donation kettles, and the ubiquitous "Jingle Bells" song on the radio are top of mind with everyone as we celebrate this special time of year. For Steiffgal, the holidays came a few days early with another bell related treat - a precious and early Steiff lamb with full provenance. Check out this charming barnyard buddy and see what makes her so special from several perspectives.

It's easy to jingle all the way with this adorable little lamb. What we have here is Steiff's Lamm or Lamb. She is standing, unjointed, stuffed with excelsior, and made from lamb's wool plush. Lamb's wool plush has a marvelous, "lumpy-bumpy" texture to it, much like that of a real lamb. Although her design is relatively simple, she has wonderful and angular back legs and perfectly lifelike proportions. Her face is detailed with green and black slit pupil style glass eyes, a red hand embroidered red nose an mouth, and a touch of pink airbrushing on her eyes and muzzle. Her ribbon and bell are original. This pre-WW2 design was made in 14, 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1928 through 1943. This basic design in this wonderful material was also produced in a lying position, on wheels, as a music box, and as a ride on animal.

Steiffgal was fortunate enough to win this great example at the recent Morphy Auctions' Toy Auction Sale on December 18, 2015. This lovely lamb really called to her as she already had the 22 cm version of this pattern. And, as all collectors know, you can never have enough of a good thing! The happy duo are pictured together here on the left. They have almost identical ribbons and bells. Isn't their resemblance uncanny?

One of the things that makes this example so special is that it came with full provenance. Lamb is from the estate of Patsy Ziemer. She was given to Patsy on her first birthday by a family friend who also gave her a pair of felt slippers at the same time.  You can see this documented in her baby book - a page of which is pictured here on the left. According to her family, "Patsy was born Patricia Erica Lyon in the Philippine Islands on October 20, 1927. She had ancestors dating back to nobility in Germany as early as 1110. Her parents were American Civil Service teachers living in the Philippine Islands when she was born. They moved to Germany in 1928 where they established and managed the American School in Berlin. Her parents were active in pre-war Berlin society and observed first-hand the development of the Nazi party. They barely escaped from Germany as hostilities heated up in 1939. Shortly after arriving in Lake City, Minnesota at the age of 12, Patsy wrote the book Two Thousand and Ten Days of Hitler with her father’s coaching. It described her experiences in pre-war Germany, became a best seller in New York, and was published in many languages."  

To honor Patsy and her memory, Steiffgal has named this lovely lamb "Patsy."

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Patsy's sweet sheep has really rung a bell with you.

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

Saturday, December 12, 2015

All I Want For Christmas Is...

Perhaps you know the expression, "Good things come in threes." In the Steiff world, that just might refer to a great find complete with its button, ear tag, and chest tag. Or Gucki, Pucki, and Lucki, the trio of beloved gnomes from the 1950's. For Steiffgal, today it is also the number of items from the upcoming December, 2015 Morphy Auctions toy sale she has just added to her holiday wish list. Check out these three lovely lots and see what makes them so interesting from the collector's perspectives.

Lot 268
Will you be my Teddy bear? Steiffgal bets that's the question on many collector's minds in regards to this first outstanding item. Here we have lot 268, which is called, "1940's Steiff White Bear." It is cataloged as... 

"A wonderful example of a mid-century Steiff bear with glass eyes in what appears to be in unplayed with all original condition. This original "Teddy," circa 1948, has a block button, working growler within his chest, vibrant white coloring & even his felt pads are bright showing no discoloration/wear/loss. A knockout Steiff and certainly a fine addition to any bear and/or Steiff collection! Size 20-1/2'' L."

Shield shaped nose
And just what makes this Ted so unbearably appealing? The list is as long as the one in Santa's hands right about now! Collectors will recognize this bear as a remarkable example of Steiff's early post war "Original Teddy." This bear was produced overall from about 1950-1966 in blonde, caramel, brown, and white in 14 sizes ranging from 10-100 cm. This early post war bear pattern featured the new square-ish, shield shape nose on cubs 18 cm and over.  (An example of this nose stitching pattern is featured here on the left.)  Although Steiffgal has not seen him firsthand, this particular example appears to be in just about tissue-new condition. His white mohair is brilliantly clean and full, and his pads look pristine. His size is most impressive and probably correlates to the 50 cm version. And it's hip to be square with his block style button. This rare ID, used on Steiff editions from about 1948-1952, is considered amongst the most desirable with collectors worldwide. 
Lot 258
Steiffgal is just quackers over this next auction pick. Here we have lot 258, which is called "Unusual Prewar Steiff Duck With ID." It is cataloged as...  

"A charming example of Steiff's early and seldom seen standing and unjointed 22 cm "Play Duck." His excelsior-stuffed body is made from light yellow wool plush that has very light losses consistent with age. He comes to life with yellow felt webbed feet, an open, smiling, dimensional beak, a touch of airbrush highlighting, red felt backed black button eyes, and a pom-pom (similar in look and feel to the company's woolen miniatures) as his crown. His small playful wings angle backwards; one has a very small home repair on the inside fold. Duck retains his trailing "f" button and traces of his red tag as his Steiff IDs. Play Duck was produced in this size only from 1933-1943; this particular example was made in the earliest part of that time frame. Condition: As noted. Duck is in very good condition overall. Provenance: From the Patsy Ziemer Collection; this item comes with copies of the Ziemer family history."

Other pre-war ducks
Bird's the word when it comes to Steiff's delightful early ducks. Ducks are a legacy pattern for Steiff, with felt ducks appearing in the company's debut catalog of 1892. It has been Steiffgal's observation that for the most part, Steiff's prewar ducks have always had a more playful than realistic look to them, with their typically oversized and prominent beaks and feet. They were the first animals placed on eccentric style wheels (so they waddled when pulled along), were often made in bright colors, and were sometimes produced wearing charming hats or jackets - adding to their appeal. (A great pair of late 1920's-era Steiff ducks is pictured here on the left for context.) This particular auction example under discussion today, with its irresistible presentation, nice condition, IDs, and "crowning glory" pom-pom, is seldom seen on the secondary market and is quite desirable. It would be a feather in anyone's cap to add this darling duck to their Steiff collection.

Lot 169
This last auction pick just may be on Santa's wish list, too! Here we have lot 169, which is called a Steiff Studio Elk. This big beast is cataloged as...  

"An amazing, almost life sized, mohair Steiff animal from the 1960's time period. These studio animals were quite expensive and often times were used as display pieces in various toy stores such as Strawbridge & Clothier, Lord & Taylor, F.A O. Schwarz etc. that sold Steiff animals, people, toys etc. This fellow is approx. 60" tall, his antlers slip into the head and due to age and original mounting process they droop a bit (resting onto his back) otherwise his overall height would probably be increased by at least another 8" - 10". In remarkable original "bright" condition with virtually no mohair loss, discoloration, wear, holes, etc.! Retains the typical script Steiff button in his ear. Size 60'' L."

Steiff display okapi
Oh deer! Who could resist this lifesized friend, especially around Christmas time? This display animal is technically a Rothirsch, or Red Stag. He was made in this size - 190 cm - in 1967 only. The heyday of Steiff's display animal production was in the 1960's, when the company made many more "common" lifesized animals (like giraffes, tigers, and donkeys), but also many "exotic" ones, like chamois bucks, kudus, and this stag. (A Steiff display okapi from the 1960's is pictured here on the left for comparison.) For the most part, display animals from this period were manufactured from mohair, stuffed with excelsior, had sturdy metal skeletons, and had extraordinary detailing - like the antlers on this stag. Some were produced for store displays; these were sometimes mechanized so that their heads would bob, their tails would move, or they would shake a limb or two. Others found their ways into private collections. Regardless of his previous life, this particular Red Stag would make any room feel like the holidays all year 'round today!

Steiffgal hopes this review of three top Steiff highlights from the upcoming Morphy Auctions sales event has been a triple-treat for you. Check out the entire auction catalog by clicking here.

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Take A Good Look At This Steiff Celebrity Cook!

Ah... every Steiff enthusiast knows the feeling. The one that got away! Steiffgal recently came across a most unusual vintage Steiff novelty that would have been a fantastic addition to her hug. This collectible chef doll was being offered at auction. Apparently there were too many cooks in the kitchen and as a result, he is off to another very lucky collector! Oh well, you can't win them all for sure. Nonetheless, let's take a look at this marvelous rarity and see what makes him truly worthy of three Michelin stars! 

Here we have Steiff's marvelous Maggi Fridolin. He is 13 cm, standing and made from rubber. He wears a very traditional chef's uniform including a toque blanche, scarf, white jacket, and checkered pants. His shoes are black and white felt. He appears to be in very nice condition and retains all of his IDs, including his Steiff chest tag, button, and fully legible yellow tag. His number "713" corresponds to 7= "in caricature" and 13= "13 cm" tall. Maggi Fridolin was made in this size only in 1958.  

And just what is is the "secret ingredient" behind this doll? This kitchen-keeper is the logo of the well known German food company Maggi. Maggi is best known for its production of seasonings, soups, and noodles, which are distributed and enjoyed globally. Its condiment sauce, referred to as "Maggi" is similar to soy sauce and is extremely popular in Europe, Asia, and South America. The company had its origins in Switzerland but set up shop in Singen, Germany in 1897 - where it is still located today. It was purchased by Nestle in 1947. Maggi's founder, Julius Maggi, was very interested in improving the food quality and health of working-class people. His business partner was a physician named Fridolin Schuler. The two worked together to create nutritionally inhanced foods, and later went on to "invent" healthy ready to eat soups and bouillon cubes, among other products.

Steiff put the rubber to the road in the 1950's with these sorts of rubber dolls based on popular brands, logos, or storybook characters of the time. This manufacturing technique was efficient and relatively low cost; however, over time, the rubber usually dried out and crumbled to pieces. This may help to explain why so few of these interesting examples are in existence today. Other rare examples from the Maggi doll's era include Larifari (a 32 cm doll based on a well known children's character, produced in 1955-1957); Gummibert (a 12 cm doll made for the Englebert tire company, produced in 1954); and Captain (a 17 or 28 cm doll made for the Northwest shoe company, produced from 1952-1957.)

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this great Maggi Fridolin doll has been a tasty treat for you.

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

Friday, November 27, 2015

Buttoning Up Your Steiff Holiday Wish List With Highlights From Morphy's December 2015 Toy Auction

Is your Steiff holiday wish list buttoned up yet? Well, if you need a few ideas, look no further than Morphy Auctions' upcoming Premier Toy & Advertising Sale, which will be held December 18th-20th, 2015.  This great event features over 40 top tier button-in-ear treasures representing a full spectrum of Steiff categories and price points.   It will probably come as no surprise that Steiffgal's got a plush-crush on most of these lovely lots.  Here's a few that really caught her eye... and why!

Morphy's Lot #112
Well, hello Dolly... or in this case, Dollies!  Check out lot #112, a "Pair of Exquisite Steiff Dolls in Bavarian Clothes."  This charming couple is cataloged as... 
"This wonderful pair consists of Anton the boy and Lisl the girl. Both are approximately 35cm tall, fully jointed, and made from felt and linen. Anton has honey blond mohair hair and black shoebutton eyes. He wears a white cotton shirt, black felt lederhosen-style shorts with green suspenders, a felt Tyrolean jacket with leather buttons (one missing), and woolen socks. Lisl has blonde mohair hair that has darkened over time and stunning cobalt and black pupil eyes. She wears a white cotton shirt and apron which have darkened over time, a black calico and felt dirndl with beaded decorations, a colorful neck scarf, and tall socks. As is typical to Steiff dolls of the period, both are wearing hats and handmade shoes. Both dolls appeared in the Steiff line from 1909 to 1927 in 28, 35, 43, 50, and 60cm; Lisl was also produced in a 75cm in 1912 only. Anton's black eyes suggest he was produced earlier than Lisl. Both doll's IDs have been lost to time. Both dolls have charming, youthful faces and present beautifully together. Auction estimate:  $2,000 - 3,000."

Similar Steiff Dolls At The UFDC Museum, Kansas City
And what makes these two so dolly delightful from the collector's vantage point?  Their incredibly dear looks, larger size, lovely condition, and traditional German attire. Anton and Lisl are picture-perfect examples of Steiff's "Children" style dolls, which appeared in the line from 1909 through the late 1920's.  Unlike earlier Steiff dolls that were more caricatured, harsh, and designed for adult collectors, these dolls were realistically proportioned, had gentle personalities, and angelic, rosy faces.  They truly were designed for child's fun and play.  These models were all fully jointed and had felt heads and bodies - except right around WWI when felt was scarce and the bodies were sometimes made from rough cotton or linen type materials. All of these dolls were dressed head to toe in handmade clothing that included school uniforms, ethnic costumes, sporting attire, and “Sunday best." 

It is very interesting to note that the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC), the world's largest and best known doll collecting organization, features a pair of Steiff dolls very similar to Anton and Lisl in their outstanding doll museum, located in Kansas City, MO.  This pair from the UFDC museum is pictured above on the left on doll stands. 

Morphy's Lot #268
The next Steiff Morphy Auctions' highlight will absolutely give you the warm and fuzzies... in a very big way indeed! Here we have lot 268, an early postwar white Steiff Teddy bear.  This beautiful bruin is cataloged as... 

"A wonderful example of a 20-1/2" tall mid-century Steiff bear with glass eyes in what appears to be in unplayed with all original condition. This original "Teddy", circa 1948, has a block button, working growler within his chest, vibrant white coloring & even his felt pads are bright showing no discoloration/wear/loss. A knockout Steiff and certainly a fine addition to any bear and/or Steiff collection! Auction estimate:  $1,500. - 2,500."

Steiff Block Button Example
And what makes this terrific Ted so special from the collector's point of view? Well, here Steiffgal has to say, "Be still my heart!" This bear's size, coloring, classic appearance, condition, and that little detail called his "block letter" button make him a universal celebrity. This "block letter" button is really desirable, and means that the word "Steiff" appears in all capital letters. This button was only used on items from around 1947 through 1952, and is extremely rare. As a matter of fact, Steiffgal only has four or five items with this button amongst her collection of 1,000+ vintage items, including a transitional (i.e., pre- to post war) period squirrel.  This same block letter button from Steiffgal's squirrel is pictured here on the left. 

Morphy's Lot #120
This third Morphy Auction Steiff highlight is a charm, in so many ways.  Here we have lot #120, Steiff's smallest pre-war begging rabbit with a tail moves head mechanism.  This petite treat is cataloged as...  

"This 9 cm rabbit is an extremely rare version of the Steiff's collectible tail-moves-head novelties from the 1930's. She is unjointed, excelsior stuffed, and begging. Her body is made tan colored mohair that has overall light losses consistent with age. Her tiny face is detailed with brown and black glass pupil eyes, a simple red hand embroidered nose and mouth, and a few remaining clear monofilament whisker. Her tail-moves-head mechanism is in perfect working order. Rabbit has her trailing "f" button and slight traces of her red ear tag as her Steiff IDs. This pattern was produced in 11, 15, 18, 23, 29, and 36 cm from 1931-1938. Auction estimate:  $500-1,000."

And what makes this head turner so special from the collector's perspective? This rabbit manages to get a lot of great into a small package for sure.  Her size, presentation, rarity, and mechanical movements make her one honey bunny.  Steiff's tail moves head models are among the company's most beloved and sought after treasures.  These early "action super heroes" of the 1930's included cats, dogs, goats, and lambs, among others.  For the most part, each was based on standard line popular designs of the time, and left the factory with a round cardboard tag on its tail that read "turn here and I will move my head." Tail turns head items were considered higher end, luxury toys, and most were produced through the late 1930's. 

A Copy Of Patsy Ziemer's Book
In addition, this rabbit has a fantastic and fully documented provenance.  It was consigned from its original owners, the family of the late Patsy Ziemer. Patsy and her family escaped from Nazi Germany and came to America in 1939. Once in the US, twelve year old Patsy and her father authored the best selling book, Two Thousand And Ten Days of Hitler, which described her life in pre-war Germany.  You can see an original copy of this book pictured here on the left.  Copies of family documents, including more information on Patsy's amazing and accomplished life, are included with this rabbit (and other items for sale at Morphy's from this family's collection.)

Steiffgal hopes this preview of highlights from Morphy's December, 2015 Premier Toy Auction has put you in a playful and holiday mood.  

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

Sunday, November 22, 2015

This Most Unusual Steiff Skunk Is Begging For Your Attention

It's never a good idea to see things only in black and white.  Unless of course, you are studying Steiff's wonderful skunks!  So pull out your magnifying glasses and thinking caps, and take a look at this most unusual example.  Have you ever come across one of these two-toned treasures?

No need to hold your breath for information on this little stinker. Here we have the strange, wonderful, and highly unusual Phuy Skunk. And why so unusual? In the Steiff reference books, the only thing listed about him is that he was made in 1965, and his "purpose is unknown." Physically, Phuy is 18 cm. He is in a begging position, although he can also lay down if he gets tired. His body is made from short black and white mohair, while his tail is made from long black and white mohair. He has double-thick felt paws and feet; his feet are stenciled with little foot prints. He has an open, felt lined mouth, a pink hand embroidered nose, brown and black pupil eyes, and mono-filament whiskers. 

Phuy is sometimes confused with another begging buddy named Cosy Skunk. This fellow is 22 cm, unjointed, and can lay down or sit up. His body is made from short black and white dralon. His robust tail is made from long, black and white dralon. His face is detailed with felt ears, black and brown pupil eyes, clear whiskers, and a pink hand embroidered nose and closed mouth. He has white, double thick felt front hand paws, but no feet paws. There is no stenciling on his felt paws. This smelly sweetheart was manufactured from 1960-1974 in this size only.  He is pictured here on the left.

It stinks that there isn't much information available about Phuy. But, it was not unusual for Steiff to produce an animal in a very small edition size, and as a result, not keep detailed records about it. Sometimes these rarities were produced for, or ended up at, specialty retailers such as F.A.O. Schwarz. A good example of this is the company's "Mystery Squirrel" which does not (as far as Steiffgal knows) appear in any of the standard Steiff reference books, but is featured in the F.A.O. Schwarz catalog of 1968-1969. He is pictured here on the left. It is interesting to note that this Mystery Squirrel, like Phuy, is a "field and forest friend," is made from mohair, and is in the same general (begging) body position. Mystery Squirrel is pictured here on the left. 

As rare as Phuy is, he is not the rarest Steiff skunk Steiffgal knows of. Check out this remarkable, and probably one of a kind Steiff Skunk sold by Teddy Dorado in 2013 at the annual Steiff Sommer Auction in Giengen, Germany. He hammered at 950 euro!  This absolute rarity is cataloged as... "Disney character begging skunk, 18 cm, a unique specimen in mint condition from 1978-1979. Art.-No. Art.-No. 7958/18. Made of black, pink & white trevira velvet; chest from pink Dralon plush; white hair on top of head & white-black tail made of long pile woven fur; black-white googly eyes; cord tongue; unjointed in begging position; limbs excelsior stuffed; manufactured without voice & chest tag; small golden coloured Steiff raised script button in ear; Steiff ear tag shows hand written Art.-No. & wrong information about covering material; in mint condition overall; item without report in any Steiff catalogue."  This Disney character skunk is pictured here on the left, the photo is from Teddy Dorado.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Phuy Skunk has been a well deserved breath of fresh air for you. 

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Delightful Steiff Head-Turning Mystery!

Everyone loves a good Steiff mystery. And this one just might color your world, as well as have you nodding your head in agreement. Check out this note from a new friend who lives overseas. She writes in part:


I wonder if you have seen a Steiff like this before.

He looks to be from around the 1930-40's as his head is quite small and long body unlike the 1950's shape. He is 10 inches high. The front of his body and the inset of his ears are cream mohair and the rest of him is golden. His head is unjointed and he has a canister type thing in his body; you turn his tail and his head goes from side to side. He is not a yes/no as the tail does not move up and down.  

I have not seen one like him before. I would love to hear what you think and also what you think his value is.  Many thanks!"

This Ted is one rare bear indeed! Steiffgal has only seen one or two other examples in many decades of collecting and studying Steiff items. 
What we have here is Steiff's "Original Teddy bear with neck mechanism." This little guy with the big clunky name was produced in 1955 only in 18 or 25 cm. He is arm and leg jointed, and his little tail turns his head. This bear pattern is known among other factors for his ears and belly which are a lighter hue than his head, limbs, and body.  He also has a tail, which is an extremely unusual detail feature on Steiff mohair bears from any era. His back side and tail are pictured here on the left.

This bear is neck and neck in rarity with other unusual Steiff items from the early 1950's, including a little known 15 cm clockwork tumbling bear called "Turbo Teddy Somersault Bear" made in 1951 only. One thing that's a bit unusual about today's "head turner" is his production era - the 1950's. After receiving patents for "tail moves head" mechanisms, Steiff introduced a series of these items in the 1930's. For the most part, these were based on the most popular and beloved patterns of the time and included cats, dogs, rabbits, penguins, goats, and lambs, and even Mickey Mouse, among others. These were advertised as, "The ingenious head-movement makes Steiff animals appear alive."  The Bully pictured on the left is one of Steiff's early tail moves head items and appeared in the line in 11, 15, 18, 23, 26, and 31 cm from 1931 through 1935 overall.

Overall, about 25 different tail turns head models were produced through the late 1930's and very early 1940's. Interestingly, there was not a Teddy bear on this pre-war production list. It would be almost two decades later that the Teddy bear with neck mechanism under discussion today would appear in the line - and just for a year at that.  In 1990 and 1991, the company produced the 25 cm version of this bear as a replica in a limited edition size of 4,000 pieces.  This replica tail moves head Steiff bear is pictured here on the left.
And now for the question that requires a mohair crystal ball - his value.  As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it.  This item rarely if ever appears on the secondary market and is on the wish lists of many Steiff collectors.  However, there really are no readily available comps to help frame an estimate.  In the broadest sense, Steiffgal guesstimates that he might sell in the $1,500-3,000 range... but only he - and his next future owner - know for sure! 

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on the company's Teddy bear with neck mechanism has been a dynamic read for you.  
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Playing Dress Up With This Gorgeous And Very Rare Steiff Pressed Felt Faced Doll

All dressed up and nowhere to go? Not this beautiful Steiff girl doll! Although Steiff is best known for its wonderful mohair Teddy bears and animals, the company also produced extraordinary and high quality felt dolls through the early 1950's. This sweet treat is the best of all possible worlds, with her fabulous and well coordinated outfit and amazingly appealing presentation.  Let's take a look at her and see what makes her so special from the product design and historical  perspectives. 

This sweet flower is Steiff's Rosl. She is 35 cm, standing, head and leg jointed, and made from flesh colored felt. Her arms hang softly at her sides. She has well defined hands, a sweet and toddler-esque face, and shapely limbs. She comes to life with a blond mohair wig, lovely inset blue glass pupil eyes, and delicately hand painted facial features. She was made in this size only from 1939 through 1941.  

Like all of Steiff's early felt dolls, Rosl is absolutely dressed to the nines. Her elaborate, well coordinated outfit consists of a red and white cotton calico dress, a blue and white silken apron, lace trimmed white cotton underwear and slip, white socks and felt shoes, and a blue hood. The material on her apron and hood is the same. Each garment is gorgeously tailored and detailed with ric-rac, lace, and/or matching trims. It has always been Steiff's tradition to dress their dolls, especially the girl ones, in great shoes and head wear.

Steiff's pressed felt faced dolls debuted in 1936 and were produced on a commercial scale from 1937 through 1943, and then again in 1949 and 1950. Overall, about 27 different versions of these dolls appeared in the line through 1950. Over time, both boys and girl models were produced in 35 ad 43 cm. These dolls were created to replace the company's better known and very collectible early dolls with center seamed faces. Steiff had been working since the 1920's to find a way to produce seamless faced dolls. But due to the nature of the felt material, this proved to be very complicated from a production standpoint. After years of trying, the Steiff designers finally mastered the art of creating felt pressed faces by reinforcing the molded material with a plastic backing.  
Rosl, and all of her pressed felt faced cousins, have very delicate and well formed head features - including lifelike ears. However, her ear shape and position was not conducive for the company's traditional "button in ear" branding. As such, instead of Steiff buttons in their ears, each Steiff pressed felt faced doll was given a special red rubber bracelet that had their button and yellow flag attached like a charm, as well as a named chest tag.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's delightfully dressed Rosl doll has you feeling pretty today.

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

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Be Brave And Check Out This Amazing Steiff Artificial Silk Plush Lion!

No 'lion! A very rare Steiff big cat just wandered into Steiffgal's collection, and she couldn't be more pleased. Its time to go on the prowl and and see what makes this sweet prince so interesting from the design and product evolution timeline.

This heir to the jungle throne in none other than Steiff's Young Lion. He is 17 cm, sitting, head jointed, and made from tan colored artificial silk plush fabric. This fabric is very soft, silky, and shiny.  His back is covered in very lightly airbrushed spots, stripes, and zig-zags. His chin and the lining of his ears are made from white artificial silk plush; his "sideburns" are made from much longer white artificial silk plush. He has three black hand embroidered claws on each foot. His sweet tail wraps around his backside. His adorable face comes to life with black and brown glass pupil eyes, black paint highlighting, and a black hand embroidered nose and mouth. He retains his short trailing "F" style Steiff button. Young Lion was made in this material and this size only in 1948 through 1949.
Despite this exact example's brief appearance, his closest relatives wore the crown for almost three decades in the Steiff line. Prewar, the first sitting lion cub appeared in the line in 14 and 17 cm from 1932 through 1937. He is pictured here on the left; the photo is from Gunther Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment book. Like many of Steiff items of the period, these two cubs were made from wool plush. In 1939, this sitting pattern was modernized slightly with the addition of sideburns and more elaborate painting. This updated pattern was manufactured in 17 and 22 cm through 1943. 

The Young Lion pattern roared right back on the scene once the factory reopened for toy making business in the late 1940's. The pre-war Young Lion was produced in artificial silk plush instead of woolen fabrics in 17 cm in 1948 and 1949 - this is where the little fellow under discussion here fits into the timeline. Steiff produced many of the company's most popular and beloved pre-war patterns items in this inexpensive, transitional fabric in the late 1940's through the early 1950's. Common examples of this include rabbits, dogs, traditional Teddy bears, and Teddy Babies, among other favorites.

By 1949, woolen fabrics were beginning to be produced again in large enough scale for industrial manufacturing purposes. As such, Steiff was able to begin making the sitting Young Lion pattern in wool plush in 10 and 17 cm from 1949 through 1954. An example of the 10 cm version is pictured here on the left. Then, in its final appearance, the beloved Young Lion pattern was made in mohair 10 and 17 cm through 1961. Even these relatively more recent mohair versions have a delightful, vintage look to them, and remain favorites with collectors of all ages.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's rare and interesting artificial silk plush Young Lion has been the mane event of your day!

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

Sunday, October 11, 2015

An Exclusive Look At A Rare And Charming Steiff Cocker Spaniel

Pull up a chair and check out this really sweet sitting little dog!  She's based on a standard line Steiff dog from the 1960's and 1970's... but with a little "exclusive" twist.  Do you recognize her?

It's probably no surprise that this black and white sitting Cocker Spaniel is named Cockie. She is 12 cm tall and head jointed. Her body is white mohair that has been hand airbrushed with black spots and highlights.  Her ears are made from solid black mohair.  Her face comes to life with black and white plastic "google" style eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, and an expressive muzzle area.  She wears her original red collar and has all of her Steiff IDs, including her "raised script" style button, named "bear faced" chest tag, and yellow ear tag.  Her unusual accessory is a metal leash, which is original to her.  

This sitting sweetie was produced from 1962 through 1966 only, and exclusively for the upscale toy retailer F.A.O. Schwarz.  She came as part of a doghouse set.  This consisted of a dollhouse style kennel, a red plastic food bowl, the metal dog lead, and a bone.  The kennel had a pull cord on the top, and when you pulled it, it made a barking/growing noise.  This set was most likely "assembled" at F.A.O. Schwarz.  You can see this doghouse set here on the left, the photo is from Gunther Pfeiffer's 1947-2003 Steiff Sortiment Book.

This F.A.O. Schwarz Cockie design is based on Steiff's standard line black and white standing Steiff Cocker Spaniel which appeared in the Steiff line from 1960-1976 in 12, 19, and 29 cm overall.  But, like many Steiff F.A.O. Schwarz dog items, this exclusive pattern was slightly different than the standard line version, so it was very desirable for collectors.  Other such F.A.O. Schwarz examples included standing Dally Dalmatians (produced in 11, 22, and 28 cm from 1953 through 1955; the standard line versions were sitting) and a 15 cm standing open mouthed beagle, produced from 1965 through 1966 only; the standard line standing beagle was closed-mouthed. An example of Steiff's standard line standing black and white Cockie is pictured here on the left.
Tongues are awag over Cockie's really cool ear tag.  It is pictured here on the left. The numbers on it are quite descriptive indeed, and are 3312,96.  In Steiff code, that translates to:  3=sitting; 3=mohair; 12=12 cm; 9=display animal or special edition; and 6=black.  Unfortunately, it has been years since Steiff has used such a numbering/identification system for their items, the digits on today's tags are purely for transactional and tracking purposes.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this adorable and sitting F.A.O. Schwarz Cocker Spaniel has been an exclusive experience for you!

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

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Check Out This Out-Standing Tiny Mohair Steiff Dog!

Look at this sweet surprise that popped into Steiffgal's email inbox.  A reader from Germany wonders if her theory that her recent find is a Molly has a leg to stand on.   What do you think?  Check out this note from Edel, who writes from Germany...

"I recently acquired a tiny mohair, excelsior-stuffed dog that I think may be a standing Steiff Molly and I would be very grateful for you opinion.  

The little dog stands 8cm high and is 10.5cm from nose tip to tail-tip. She has no tags, ribbon or button, but there is a small hole in her left ear (from her point of view) where a button could have been. Her mohair fur is very worn and thin in many places, but you can still see that she had the typical Molly brushed-on colour. She has brown eyes with black pupils and an embroidered nose. 

Her ears are folded over and sewn down with one or maybe two stitches at the tips. In spite of her very worn condition she oozes charm and character."

Good golly - this does indeed appear to be a Steiff Molly! Molly was introduced in the Steiff line in 1925 in both sitting and standing versions. Unlike other Steiff dogs of the period, she did not specifically have a breed, she was simply known as "a puppy." Steiff gave her this youthful appearance through her shaggy mohair, oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, folded over ears, and an innocent, almost "pouty" expression. 

It is safe to say that Mollies on all fours are an out-standing find indeed.  Standing Mollies were produced in 8, 12, 14, 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm through 1936. Other standing models included Molly dogs on regular and eccentric wooden wheels, hanging pram toys, musical versions, and barking pull toys; a few of these novelties were manufactured until the early 1940's. However, no version of standing Molly was reintroduced after the factory reopened for business post war in the late 1940's. Sitting Mollies did appear postwar in five sizes ranging from 10 to 25 cm through 1969.

Molly is perhaps the most well known and beloved Steiff dog pattern.  But, despite her legacy, she does not win the blue ribbon for longevity in the line.  Overall, Molly debuted in 1925 and was retired in 1969, providing 44 years of hugs.  However, she is slightly eclipsed by Waldi the long copper colored mohair Dachshund.  A vintage Waldi is pictured here on the left. This dynamic doggie was in introduced in 1933 and retired in 1980, netting in 47 years of service... or the equivalent of 329 dog years!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's rare standing Molly dogs is worthy of some fancy footwork. 

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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

For He's A Jolly Good Steiff Fellow!

It's time to break out in a chorus of "for he's a jolly good Fellow!" And why is this? To celebrate a rare and wonderful vintage Steiff dog! Check out this terrific Terrier.  His name is Fellow, and he is from one of the most interesting periods in Steiff's product design and development era - the very late 1940's and early 1950's. Steiffgal is certain you too will find him smooth as silk!  

This mellow Fellow measures 20 cm high and 23 cm wide. He is standing, unjointed, and made from short brown artificial silk plush, which has been hand airbrushed with black highlights. His tail is made from short black artificial silk plush, while his distinctive forehead and sideburns are well represented by longer brown artificial silk plush. He has three black claws on each paw. His face comes to life with brown and black glass pupil eyes and a black hand embroidered nose and mouth. He wears an artificial brown leather collar and retains his early, red imprinted chest tag and short trailing "f" Steiff button. Fellow was produced in 22 and 28 cm from 1948 through 1949 only.
Collectible Airedale Terriers have been a breath of fresh air in the Steiff line since the late 1920's. The first version to roll on the scene was simply called "Airedale Terrier." This standing, unjointed model was on regular or eccentric wheels and produced in six sizes ranging from 17 to 35 inches from 1927 through 1930. From 1933 through 1936, the line featured "Jack," a standing wool plush Airedale Terrier produced in five sizes ranging from 17 to 43 cm. Then, in 1935, Steiff introduced a new Airedale Terrier pattern called "Fellow." Fellow was made from mohair and produced with or without wheels. The wheeled versions came in five sizes ranging from 22 to 50 cm while the simply standing models were made in four sizes ranging from 17 to 35 cm. Both versions were featured through 1943.

Fellow was one of the first patterns reintroduced once the factory reopened for toy making business post war in about 1948. In addition to the artificial silk plush model under discussion here, he was also made in mohair in 22 and 28 cm in 1949, and as a mohair ride on animal in 43 and 50 cm from 1949 through 1950. Then, in 1950, Steiff updated its traditional Airedale Terrier pattern and renamed it "Terry." In addition to Terry, Steiff launched many new smaller dog and cat models in the early to mid-1950's as part of their global growth strategy of the era. Terry was made from mohair, standing, and unjointed. He was produced overall in six sizes ranging from 8 to 35 cm from 1950 though 1961; he was also made as a ride on toy in four sizes ranging from 28 to 50 cm from 1950 through 1961. All featured the breed's charming "folded over" style ears in mohair, with the smallest versions having felt ears - as pictured above on the left.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's transitional Fellow Airedale Terrier has provided an enjoyable change of pace to your day.

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