Sunday, April 5, 2015

Setting Records With This Wonderful Steiff Vintage Rabbit on Wheels!

Hoppy Easter, dear Steiff friends and collectors!  Just in the nick of time, look who just cruised into town - a marvelous vintage Steiff bunny on wheels.  No wonder he's on a cart and taking things easy today... he had a very long night of delivering candy worldwide last night!  Let's take a look at this rolling rabbit and see what makes him our much deserved "Celebrity of the Week!".

This cheerful-earful has enormous appeal!  He is 25 cm tall overall, five ways jointed, solidly stuffed with excelsior, and made from blond mohair.  Rabbit has very straight arms, thick and chunky thighs, and long narrow feet.  He does not have any paw pads.  His distinctly old fashioned face is detailed with oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, a pink nose, and a black mouth.  There is a tiny spot of red on the tip of his mouth, perhaps to suggest his tongue.  He retains a few of his clear monofilament whiskers.  He rides upon a metal carriage with four large wooden wheels.  When the cart is pulled along, it appears that the rabbit is bobbing up and down, pumping the carriage forward with his arms and body.

Steiff produced these pull toy rabbits in 25 cm from 1926 through 1943, and then again from 1949 through 1964.  They were called "Record Rabbits" from 1926 through 1950, and then "Record Hansi" from 1951 through 1964.  A post war Steiff "Record Hansi" is pictured here on the left for reference.

It's never polite to ask someone's age (or weight) for sure.  And we can't check out his driver's license to get this information, unfortunately.  But it would be very interesting to know about how old he is, given he does not have any IDs, and appeared in the Steiff line for almost four decades!  Dating Steiff "legacy" items without IDs, like Jockos, Mollies, and Waldis - to name a few - can be very challenging.  It is also an art more than science, where tiny details and differences can help at least narrow down a production time frame. 

Based on a few hours of research and comparing photos of Steiff's wheeled and period rabbits from the late 1920's through the mid 1960's, it is Steiffgal's best guess that this particular example is from the pre-war production timeframe.  Here's why:

1.  The rabbit under discussion here has a hand embroidered, closed mouth.  Steiff's "record" style rabbits produced post WWII seem to have open, smiling, mouths.  You can clearly see this difference in the two photos above.

2.  The rabbit under discussion here has really large glass pupil eyes, giving him that distinct "youthful" look of items designed and produced in the late 1920's.  They have a distinct arch of blush/tan colored highlighting around them, which is typical to other Steiff rabbits from the late 1920's period.  You can see these facial details here on the photo here on the left. These eyes also exactly match those of other late 1920's era Steiff items in Steiffgal's collection.  Steiff's "record" style rabbits produced post WWII seem to feature smaller, more proportional eyes. 

3.  The rabbit under discussion here has extremely narrow feet and no felt paw pads.  Steiff's "record" style rabbits produced post WWII seem to have wider feet and felt paw pads. You can see these paws on the photo of the Record Hansi above.

4.  The rabbit under discussion here has a tiny drop of red on his lips; this is pictured close up on the photo to the left. The only other rabbit that comes to Steiffgal's mind that has this red dot lip feature and nose stitching pattern is a late 1920's rabbit that was auctioned off at the James D. Julia 2014 early summer toy auction.  You can check out that 1920's rabbit by clicking here; you can also see how it shares many of the same facial characteristics, general proportions, and scale of the "mystery" record rabbit.

So, what do you think about this rabbit on the go? Is he the "wheel deal" in terms of his senior citizen status? If Steiffgal had to put her money on this record style bunny, she'd date him to about 1930, give or take a handful of years. But, only he knows for sure!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this Steiff rabbit on wheels is truly one for the record!

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

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