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!
 

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