Monday, July 13, 2015

Less Is More When It Comes To Steiff's Teeny Tiny Pre-War Mohair Dogs

Steiffgal’s a little short on time this week for blogging. So this is a perfect moment to introduce you to one of the most petite treats in her collection – a tiny and very early Steiff Molly Dog. Take a big look at this particularly small pup and see what makes her so interesting – and irresistible!

This happy handful is the smallest version of Steiff’s Molly the Puppy dog. She is sitting, unjointed, and just a hair over 6 cm tall from head to toe measured vertically. She is made from white and brown tipped mohair. Her wee face comes to life with brown and black glass pupil eyes, a simple black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and the pattern’s typical “folded over” style ears. And she even retains her long trailing “f” style button after all of these years. This little girl indeed is the smallest version of Molly produced (formally documented as 7 cm), and appeared in the line from 1927 through 1943. Pre-war, this sitting brown and white Molly pattern was produced overall from 1925 through 1943 in 12 sizes ranging from 7 through 80 centimeters. She was one of the very first models reintroduced post war, reappearing again in 1949 in five sizes ranging from 10 to 25 cm through 1969.

Molly the Puppy is arguably that most important dog pattern ever produced by Steiff. The 1925 introduction of Molly proved so popular that she is credited for opening the floodgates to a huge influx of Steiff dog designs. Between 1925 and 1938, close to 40 new canine species were noted in the Steiff catalogs after her debut, many reflecting her wide eyed expression, childlike proportions, and happy disposition. These included the now classic Bully the Bulldog, Charly the King Charles Spaniel, and Treff the Bloodhound, as well as some lesser-known designs including Cheerio, the laughing dog, and Putzi, a caricatured standing dog.  And despite her advanced age and location on the family tree, this Molly still enjoys a good time; she is pictured here on the left enjoying a "Strawberries and cream" iced tea drink at the Mad Hatter's Tea at the Sanderson Hotel in London. 

And what about her size – or lack of it, in this case? She is indeed tiny, so much so that Steiffgal didn’t even notice her the first time she was checking out a remarkable window display of vintage dolls and toys in the shop of a new friend. But upon a second review, there she was, and now Steiffgal can’t take her eyes off of her! (And, according to the picture to the left, Molly can't take her hungry eyes off a tiny quiche from the same Mad Hatter's Tea!) 

Ironically, really small Steiff mohair animals can be harder and more complicated to make than their larger siblings. This is because their scale requires especially careful material cutting, intricate stitching, labor intensive turning, and especially precise stuffing and finishing. There just isn’t a lot of “wiggle room” for mistakes or manufacturing variation with these tiny mohair treasures; and because they are not economically efficient to produce, their small stature usually is accompanied by a larger than expected retail price tag. As a result, Steiff created relatively few 7 cm sized pre-war era canine companions; these included Bully the Bulldog, Charly the King Spaniel (pictured here on the left with her fellow 7 cm Molly companion), a few Fox terriers including Spotty, Treff the Bloodhound, and Fellow the black and white puppy. Post war, as far as Steiffgal can tell, the only 7 cm mohair dog Steiff made was Fox the Fox terrier, who only appeared in the line in this smallest size in 1949.

Steiffgal hopes this little post on this tiny Steiff Molly adds a big smile to your day.

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

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