Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fawning All Over This Delightful and Very Early Steiff Deer On Wheels

Steiffgal loves to "field" questions from all over the world. So this wonderful inquiry from Canada about a very vintage field and forest friend really caught her eye. Check out this note from Kendra, who shares through a series of correspondences...

"Hi Steiffgal,

I have a Steiff deer that stands approximately 18-½ high at the head and is 18-½” long from the nose to the tail. The closest I can come to describing the material would be a felt-like texture. The eyes are solid black. It appears to have had a red mouth at one time. The diameter of the button in ear is 5mm. This item was purchased at an estate auction several years ago.  Is there anything that you can tell me about this piece?

Thank you, Kendra"

Oh deer, where to start with this lovely creation?  What we have here is Steiff's early deer on wheels.  He is standing, unjointed, and riding upon a metal carriage with four metal wheels.  His handsome head and face are detailed with felt lined ears, great felt horns, and black button eyes.  Based on a close up study of his actual material, Steiffgal believes he might be made from what's called "simple plush," a very early material Steiff used on "furry" animals at the turn of last century.  It is possible that he left the factory in Giengen wearing a simple collar with a bell.  This pattern was produced in 22, 28, 35, 43, 50, and 60 cm from 1899 through 1919 overall.  

Given that models with horns were only produced through 1908, and that the deer has a tiny trailing "f" button, it can be determined that Kendra's deer on wheels - which is either the 43 or 50 cm version -  was most likely manufactured in the 1906 to 1908 time frame.

It's easy to get the warm fuzzies looking at this wonderful deer!  And his materials are truly reflective of the transitional era of his manufacture.  Mohair became viable on a commercial scale in Germany around 1903.  It turned out to be a great material for Steiff's newly introduced Teddy bears, as well as other naturally "furry" animals in the line.  However, before 1903, Steiff was producing fuzzy products including dogs, cats, bears, and field and forest animals like deer.  In order to give these earliest turn of last century items as much of a realistic touch as possible, they were made from period toy making fabrics, including early textured plush materials like this "simple plush" and short pile plush. As time went on, Steiff started transitioning their designs from these early fabrics to mohair, which could be produced in almost infinite options in terms of color and texture.  It also offered a soft, lush, authentic appearance, which perfectly aligned with Steiff's position as a growing worldwide leader in the international toy marketplace.  

Steiffgal hopes you have fawned all over this discussion on Kendra's vintage deer!

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