Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Looking For Material Evidence On This Unusual Steiff Floppy Kitten

Check out this inquiry that just tip-toed in on little cat's feet from a reader in New Jersey.  She asks about an unusual detail she noted on one of Steiff's beloved "Floppy" or sleeping animal patterns.  What's to make of this pretty Steiff kitty?

Linda shares, in part:
"My sleeping cat has a velvet snout and ears.  It does not have any ID.    I just can't seem to find any example like this in books or online. What do think of this? Many thanks for your help!"

No need to whisper around this sweet sleeping girl.  What we have here is Steiff's Floppy Kitty Cat. She is unjointed, lying down, and made from nice white mohair which has been gently airbrushed with black stripes. She is very softly stuffed.  Kitty has closed stitched eyes and is exceptionally cuddly. Her face is detailed with a pink hand stitched nose and mouth; she appears to have retained her original clear monofilament whiskers.  Overall, Floppy Kitty was produced from 1953 through 1969 and came in two sizes, 17 and 28 cm.  Linda's kitten is the smaller version.  

Steiff produced a great number of "sleeping" style animals during the 1950's through the 1970's. These included a baby lion, tiger, panda bear, fox, Zotty bear, Siamese cat, Cocker Spaniel, seal, and elephant, among others. They were all prone in position and referred to as "floppy" or "cosy" animals. Most were made in two standard sizes, 17 and 28 cm; all were stuffed with soft foam. Each animal "sleeping eyes". All of these delightful bedtime companions were simplified versions of well-known Steiff animal designs.  The baby lion and tiger are pictured here on the left.

Linda's Floppy Kitty is particularly interesting because of its velvet muzzle and ears.  These areas on this model were traditionally made from mohair.  It is the first time that Steiffgal has seen a Floppy Kitty with this unexpected facial detailing.  It was not unusual for Steiff to use velvet highlights on the smallest version of some of their animals (like many dogs and cats) or even make the smallest version of an animal entirely in velvet when the rest of the sizes were mohair (like pigs, zebras, giraffes, etc.) The smallest sized, fully jointed Steiff Kitty also has a velvet muzzle but felt ears; she is pictured above on the left for reference.  
 
Although there is no hard material evidence, it is Steiffgal's strongest suspicion that this velvet muzzled Floppy Kitty is an early version of the standard line all mohair Floppy Kitty model (pictured here on the left.)  Here are three theories concerning the velvet version:

1.  It is possible that this version was made with velvet early on to save on mohair - as mohair was still relatively rare and hard to get post war until the early 1950's when the fabric factories were in full swing again. 

2.  It is also possible that this was a sample or a trial of this pattern, to keep it consistent in materials and design with the regular jointed Kitty already in the line. 

3.  It is also possible that this model was made early on with a velvet muzzle and ears, but because velvet tends to get dirty easily and is impossible to wash - and this product was designed as a play and bedtime animal - that the material was changed to a more surface washable option.

So what's the real story behind this meow-mixup?  Unfortunately, only Linda's cat knows for sure!


Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this unusual sleeping Steiff cat has been a relaxing bedtime story for you.

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

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