Saturday, February 14, 2015

This Fantastic Steiff Bully Dog is Even Cuter Than Cupid!

Given that today is Valentine's Day, how about a very special Steiff surprise - one that's even more irresistible than candy hearts or cards!  Check out this little Steiff dog that's cuter than Cupid, and has more longevity than any floral bouquet!  Steiffgal is certain you'll be saying "Let me call you sweetheart" once you lay eyes on this real head-turner. 

This precious Prince Charming is Steiff's "Bully." He measures 15 cm from the top of his head to his feet. Bully has great and unusual black striping all over his head and back - almost like those of a tiger or cat. His face is detailed with large, felt lined floppy ears; round, a shiny glass nose and eyes; and a prominent, felt lined open mouth. He also has a special feature - he's a tail moves head model! As such, a gentle twist of his tail enables his head to turn in a complete circle.  Bully's crown and collar are made by Steiff but not original to him; his nose is also a replacement and probably a little proportionally small for his size and statue. 

Tail turns head Bully was made in 11, 15, 18, 23, 26, and 31 cm from 1931 through 1935 overall.  The smaller versions (like this one under discussion today) had glass noses while the larger ones had embroidered ones; it also appears that the 11 cm version had a closed mouth.   

It is interesting to note that this exact design was only produced in this tail turns head version.  As far as Steiffgal can tell, no static or standing versions, or other novelties with his exact coloring and facial detailing and expression, were created on a commercial scale.  It is unusual for Steiff to create such distinctive "one offs" in their product design and development efforts.  It is also unusual that this design was produced as a tail moves head item.  This is so because for the most part,  other tail moves head items from the same time period - including cats, dogs, rabbits, and lambs - were based extremely popular and well known patterns in the Steiff line. 

Tail turns head Bully appears to be a variation of Steiff's beloved standard line Bully Bulldog, who was introduced a few years earlier, in 1927.   Bully was modeled on the French Bulldog—the “it” companion of those in the know all across Europe at the time.  Tail moves head Bully and the standard line sitting Bully have structural similarities, especially in their rear areas.  These include the size and proportions of their backsides and hindquarters, the curve of their paws, the placement and size of their tails, and some basic back seams.  (You can see these similarities in the picture on the left; for reference the black and white standard sitting Bully is "officially" the 17 cm version but measures 16 cm while the tail turns head Bully measures 15 cm.)

The big differences between these two models, both structurally and aesthetically, are more towards the front ends of the examples.  From the structural perspectives, tail turns head Bully has a relatively smaller head, proportionally shorter front legs, and longer torso than does regular Bully.  His chest seam comes to a "V" mid torso; on regular Bully this same seam comes to a "V" right under his neck. Tail moves head Bully also has a much longer, narrower neck area than does regular Bully.  These structural modifications were most likely made to accommodate the embedded head turning mechanism and its resultant movement.   And from the aesthetic perspectives, this tail moves head Bully has floppy ears, black glass eyes and nose, and a smiling, open felt lined mouth.  Regular Bully dogs have wire lined ears; oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes; a black hand embroidered nose; and an endearing velvet muzzle. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's unusual tail turns head Bully dog has been a real Valentine's Day treat for you! 

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

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