Sunday, October 18, 2015

Be Brave And Check Out This Amazing Steiff Artificial Silk Plush Lion!

No 'lion! A very rare Steiff big cat just wandered into Steiffgal's collection, and she couldn't be more pleased. Its time to go on the prowl and and see what makes this sweet prince so interesting from the design and product evolution timeline.

This heir to the jungle throne in none other than Steiff's Young Lion. He is 17 cm, sitting, head jointed, and made from tan colored artificial silk plush fabric. This fabric is very soft, silky, and shiny.  His back is covered in very lightly airbrushed spots, stripes, and zig-zags. His chin and the lining of his ears are made from white artificial silk plush; his "sideburns" are made from much longer white artificial silk plush. He has three black hand embroidered claws on each foot. His sweet tail wraps around his backside. His adorable face comes to life with black and brown glass pupil eyes, black paint highlighting, and a black hand embroidered nose and mouth. He retains his short trailing "F" style Steiff button. Young Lion was made in this material and this size only in 1948 through 1949.
Despite this exact example's brief appearance, his closest relatives wore the crown for almost three decades in the Steiff line. Prewar, the first sitting lion cub appeared in the line in 14 and 17 cm from 1932 through 1937. He is pictured here on the left; the photo is from Gunther Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment book. Like many of Steiff items of the period, these two cubs were made from wool plush. In 1939, this sitting pattern was modernized slightly with the addition of sideburns and more elaborate painting. This updated pattern was manufactured in 17 and 22 cm through 1943. 

The Young Lion pattern roared right back on the scene once the factory reopened for toy making business in the late 1940's. The pre-war Young Lion was produced in artificial silk plush instead of woolen fabrics in 17 cm in 1948 and 1949 - this is where the little fellow under discussion here fits into the timeline. Steiff produced many of the company's most popular and beloved pre-war patterns items in this inexpensive, transitional fabric in the late 1940's through the early 1950's. Common examples of this include rabbits, dogs, traditional Teddy bears, and Teddy Babies, among other favorites.

By 1949, woolen fabrics were beginning to be produced again in large enough scale for industrial manufacturing purposes. As such, Steiff was able to begin making the sitting Young Lion pattern in wool plush in 10 and 17 cm from 1949 through 1954. An example of the 10 cm version is pictured here on the left. Then, in its final appearance, the beloved Young Lion pattern was made in mohair 10 and 17 cm through 1961. Even these relatively more recent mohair versions have a delightful, vintage look to them, and remain favorites with collectors of all ages.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's rare and interesting artificial silk plush Young Lion has been the mane event of your day!

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

Sunday, October 11, 2015

An Exclusive Look At A Rare And Charming Steiff Cocker Spaniel

Pull up a chair and check out this really sweet sitting little dog!  She's based on a standard line Steiff dog from the 1960's and 1970's... but with a little "exclusive" twist.  Do you recognize her?

It's probably no surprise that this black and white sitting Cocker Spaniel is named Cockie. She is 12 cm tall and head jointed. Her body is white mohair that has been hand airbrushed with black spots and highlights.  Her ears are made from solid black mohair.  Her face comes to life with black and white plastic "google" style eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, and an expressive muzzle area.  She wears her original red collar and has all of her Steiff IDs, including her "raised script" style button, named "bear faced" chest tag, and yellow ear tag.  Her unusual accessory is a metal leash, which is original to her.  

This sitting sweetie was produced from 1962 through 1966 only, and exclusively for the upscale toy retailer F.A.O. Schwarz.  She came as part of a doghouse set.  This consisted of a dollhouse style kennel, a red plastic food bowl, the metal dog lead, and a bone.  The kennel had a pull cord on the top, and when you pulled it, it made a barking/growing noise.  This set was most likely "assembled" at F.A.O. Schwarz.  You can see this doghouse set here on the left, the photo is from Gunther Pfeiffer's 1947-2003 Steiff Sortiment Book.

This F.A.O. Schwarz Cockie design is based on Steiff's standard line black and white standing Steiff Cocker Spaniel which appeared in the Steiff line from 1960-1976 in 12, 19, and 29 cm overall.  But, like many Steiff F.A.O. Schwarz dog items, this exclusive pattern was slightly different than the standard line version, so it was very desirable for collectors.  Other such F.A.O. Schwarz examples included standing Dally Dalmatians (produced in 11, 22, and 28 cm from 1953 through 1955; the standard line versions were sitting) and a 15 cm standing open mouthed beagle, produced from 1965 through 1966 only; the standard line standing beagle was closed-mouthed. An example of Steiff's standard line standing black and white Cockie is pictured here on the left.
Tongues are awag over Cockie's really cool ear tag.  It is pictured here on the left. The numbers on it are quite descriptive indeed, and are 3312,96.  In Steiff code, that translates to:  3=sitting; 3=mohair; 12=12 cm; 9=display animal or special edition; and 6=black.  Unfortunately, it has been years since Steiff has used such a numbering/identification system for their items, the digits on today's tags are purely for transactional and tracking purposes.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this adorable and sitting F.A.O. Schwarz Cocker Spaniel has been an exclusive experience for you!

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

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Check Out This Out-Standing Tiny Mohair Steiff Dog!

Look at this sweet surprise that popped into Steiffgal's email inbox.  A reader from Germany wonders if her theory that her recent find is a Molly has a leg to stand on.   What do you think?  Check out this note from Edel, who writes from Germany...

"I recently acquired a tiny mohair, excelsior-stuffed dog that I think may be a standing Steiff Molly and I would be very grateful for you opinion.  

The little dog stands 8cm high and is 10.5cm from nose tip to tail-tip. She has no tags, ribbon or button, but there is a small hole in her left ear (from her point of view) where a button could have been. Her mohair fur is very worn and thin in many places, but you can still see that she had the typical Molly brushed-on colour. She has brown eyes with black pupils and an embroidered nose. 

Her ears are folded over and sewn down with one or maybe two stitches at the tips. In spite of her very worn condition she oozes charm and character."

Good golly - this does indeed appear to be a Steiff Molly! Molly was introduced in the Steiff line in 1925 in both sitting and standing versions. Unlike other Steiff dogs of the period, she did not specifically have a breed, she was simply known as "a puppy." Steiff gave her this youthful appearance through her shaggy mohair, oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, folded over ears, and an innocent, almost "pouty" expression. 

It is safe to say that Mollies on all fours are an out-standing find indeed.  Standing Mollies were produced in 8, 12, 14, 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm through 1936. Other standing models included Molly dogs on regular and eccentric wooden wheels, hanging pram toys, musical versions, and barking pull toys; a few of these novelties were manufactured until the early 1940's. However, no version of standing Molly was reintroduced after the factory reopened for business post war in the late 1940's. Sitting Mollies did appear postwar in five sizes ranging from 10 to 25 cm through 1969.

Molly is perhaps the most well known and beloved Steiff dog pattern.  But, despite her legacy, she does not win the blue ribbon for longevity in the line.  Overall, Molly debuted in 1925 and was retired in 1969, providing 44 years of hugs.  However, she is slightly eclipsed by Waldi the long copper colored mohair Dachshund.  A vintage Waldi is pictured here on the left. This dynamic doggie was in introduced in 1933 and retired in 1980, netting in 47 years of service... or the equivalent of 329 dog years!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's rare standing Molly dogs is worthy of some fancy footwork. 

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