Saturday, May 30, 2015

Begging To Learn The Story Behind This Vintage Lifesized Steiff Poodle


It is so exciting to stumble upon a great Steiff treasure.  But only once in a blue moon does that find also comes with a full history and provenance!  Such was most unexpectedly the case with this recent addition to Steiffgal's hug.  Check out this lifesized Steiff poodle and see what makes him so wonderful from the design - and in this case personal - perspectives.  

This guy's got rock star appeal and knows it!  Here we have Steiff's studio Snobby poodle.  He is in the "begging" position, with a great body shape and realistically curved arms and legs. He is 80 cm and made from grey mohair.  He is head and arm jointed.  His limbs, tail tip, ears, forehead, and nose are made from very long, wavy mohair, while his torso, mouth and muzzle area, and tail are made from short mohair.  He is solidly stuffed with excelsior.  His face comes to life with oversized black and brown pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, an open, peach colored felt mouth with a dimensional felt tongue, and airbrushed highlights.  He wears a great red leather collar.  It is backed in felt, and is adorned with a number of brass colored studs.

One of the things about this item that is both cool and helpful in identifying him is his fully legible yellow ear tag.  This is pictured on the left. On it is hand written:  4380,95.  This translates to: 4=begging, 3=mohair, 80=80 cm tall, 9=display animal, and 5=grey.  This makes perfect sense in describing him.  He is pictured in the Sortiment and also the Steiff catalog in black mohair, but with a different article number, 4439/08.  (You can see the Steiff catalog page below.)  Both of these references date him at 1967.  

So what's up with his numbers? Many studio items from this period have hand written numbers on their yellow ear tags.  And it is possible that his number is different than the one documented in the literature for a number of reasons.  Here are two thoughts.  First, he is indeed a different color than the more documented black version.  And second, Steiff reconfigured their numbering systems several times during the 1960's, his most likely decade of production.  In general, the number "443" on a mid- to late- 1960's item appears to be associated with Steiff's legacy "Snobby the poodle" design.

Catalog from 1967.  Provided by friends at Teddy Dorado!
Steiffgal came upon this poodle online via a heads up from a friend.  With her blessing - and much gratitude - Steiffgal purchased the poodle. It arrived at her home a few days later without incident.  A dozen white washcloths, two bottles of cleaning solution, and two hours of elbow grease later, the poodle was a good as new.  And that should have been the end of the story.  But then something amazing happened.  A few days after receiving Snobby, Steiffgal received an completely unexpected letter lovingly detailing Snobby's entire life story.  It made this incredible find even more meaningful.  

The letter read, in part:

".... he's been a fixture in our house for 40 years. He was originally bought in the late 50's early 60's. He was a gift bought by a very wealthy man.  My parents were caretakers for his estate on the edge of a lake. He was a lawyer and bought the poodle on a working trip to Germany and gave him to his daughter.  

His daughter always had plenty of toys, however, she was never around due to divorce and never played with them. As such he decided to give him to me instead of keeping him.  

I was perhaps 7 years old and made him a fixture in our home by setting him in a central area, decorating him according to holidays during the year. Christmas was garland, tinsel, and other ornaments. Memorial Day was flags, 4th of July was fireworks, unlit of course. Birthday presents on birthdays, Thanksgiving was a turkey hat and a cornucopia. This all changed as I got older, but I held onto him. 

Last year I found him in one of our storage closets looking like he needed a bit of sewing under his collar and a gentle cleaning. 

In short, it is hard to do this, but its time to pass him on to someone who can appreciate him and add their own memories in a happy home. Take good care of him..."

And Steiffgal PROMISES to do just that!

Steiffgal hopes this heated discussion on this Steiff studio poodle welcomes in the dog days of summer for you!

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

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