Are you in the mood for a little Steiff game today? Steiffgal nearly toppled to the ground when she received this email inquiry from a professional colleague from the New England area who asks about a vintage Steiff find. See if it bowls you over as well!
"Steiffgal, I have a friend who has a Steiff dog, which looks like he is sitting up
on his rear legs, perched on a wooden base, who has his original
elephant button... this is in VERY good condition... Dog is two toned, no
issues I can see. Can you tell me a little about him... and what you
think he is worth? Thank you! Blain"
Steiffgal's not playing with you when she says this is one very special treasure! What we have here is a very early Steiff skittle. Skittles are analogous to today's modern sporting bowling pins. The skittle itself is made of a dachshund which is perched on a wooden plinth. The dog is begging, unjointed, and made from brown and white velvet with airbrushing. He is rather basic in form and design. His face is detailed with a simple hand embroidered nose and mouth and black shoe button eyes. He wears a little leather collar. Steiffgal has seen these finished with a small medallion or bell; this model has lost his ornamentation to time. This begging velvet dachshund mounted on a skittle is identical to Steiff's standard line velvet dachshund; this precious pooch was produced in 10, 14, and 22 cm from 1901 through 1927 overall. His absolutely remarkable elephant button helps to date this item to 1904! Although Blain did not mention the size of the dog, it is Steiffgal's best guess that he is the 14 cm version based on other Steiff skittles of the same era.
Wooden it be nice to know more about the dog's plinth? Well, this base was designed to be knocked over when hit directly with a fast rolling felt ball. The plinth is solid wood and finished simply with a little varnish and a black ring around the top circumference. European skittle sets had 9 skittles while those made for the USA had ten. In most cases, each set came with a "kingpin" who was slightly taller and dressed in a beaded crown and felt jacket; his wooden plinth was also slightly taller than those of the other pins. An example of a typical Steiff kingpin is pictured here on the left; this fabulous pre-1904 velvet elephant realized close to $1,500 at the June, 2014 James D. Julia Antique Doll, Toy, and Advertising Auction.
produced Skittle sets from about 1892 through 1919. Over that period of time, Steiff made the sets
with hens, monkeys, elephants, pigs, rabbits, poodles, pointers, chicks, cats, and bears, among others. The skittle pin under discussion today most likely was made as part of a Dachshund-Kegelspiel or Dachshund Skittle set. This dog-themed game was manufactured as part of the general product line from 1901 through 1912.
Now the question that has everyone on pins and needles. Just what is this little guy worth? Well, Steiffgal has not seen him firsthand, and cannot account for structural and/or aesthetic issues that do not appear in photos, like odors, weak spots, repairs, insect damage, etc. However, given that he is as nice in real life as described and presented, his value may just bowl you over! Here's why. Skittles like this one are beloved by vintage collectors as they represent a wonderful long gone era of Steiff design and production. They really don't take up too much room to display, which is an issue for many collectors. Few survive today because in reality they were produced to be used - and used hard - as playthings. And remember, this begging beauty retains his crowning glory, his most desirable ELEPHANT button - which is pictured above on the left! Given all that, and based on relatively recent sales of Steiff skittles, it is Steiffgal's best guesstimate that he may realize in the range of $2,000 to $3,000 at auction today.
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this velvet begging dachshund skittle has been a real game changer for you!
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