Sunday, January 31, 2016

Warming Up To Some Of Steiff's More Unusual Dog Designs

Given it's just about the midpoint of the cold, dark winter (at least around these parts!) Steiffgal thought readers might appreciate a few warm fuzzies sent their way.  Perhaps you are aware of the saying "a three dog night?" This historically referred to the number of dogs a person would have to cuddle with at night to stay comfortable during frigid weather.  So, to REALLY help crank up the temperature, here are FIVE interesting and somewhat rare Steiff hounds that just might add a degree or two to your day!

Let's get started by taking a "peek" at this first great Steiff dog.  Here we have a large, lesser known Steiff Pekingese named Peky. Her pattern is very different from the company's better known, more common, and smaller Peky designs.  Peky is 30 cm, head jointed, and sitting. Her ears, back and tail are made from very tan long mohair while her face and legs are made from short mohair. Her face is detailed with huge, round black and white google eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, and airbrushing on her eyebrows and elaborately constructed muzzle. She has the most endearing, pouty expression... she is probably thinking, "Hand me over a taste of whatever you're eating right now!"  This large Peky pattern was made between 1965 and 1976; this example has a raised script button placing her production at or before 1969.  

It's time to hand off the spotlight to this most adorable puppet pup.  This is Steiff's Treff the Bloodhound hand puppet.  Treff is 17 cm tall and made from bright blond mohair. She has three black hand embroidered claws on each hand. Her head is modeled after the company's beloved Treff pattern, and comes to life with long droopy ears, oversized black and brown glass eyes set deep into eye pockets; a black hand embroidered nose; simple jowls; and airbrushed freckles. She retains traces of her original red ribbon.  This happy handful was produced in this size only from 1928 through 1940.  This example retains her long trailing f button, early chest tag, and traces of her red ear tag, putting her at the early part of the production timeline.

Rolling right along, here are two great and early examples of Steiff's wonderful dogs on wooden eccentric wheels.  Both have the appearance of bobbing up and down as they are pulled along.

The first coppery example begs a penny for your thoughts.  Here we have a lovely version of the company's beloved Waldi Dachshund pull toy.  Waldi is standing, 16 cm tall and 30 cm long nose to backside, unjointed, and made from long, glorious copper colored mohair.  His tail adds another 10 cm to his length. His face, arms, and legs are made from shorter copper colored mohair. Waldi has a simple black hand embroidered mouth and nose and black eyes. He glides upon four oversized, blue off-center wooden wheels. Waldi retains his original green leather collar, long trailing f button, and fully legible red ear tag.  Pre-war, Waldi was produced on eccentric wheels in 14, 17, and 22 cm from 1933 through 1943; this example is from the early part of that period. Once the factory opened for toymaking business after the war, he again was produced in 17 and 25 cm from 1949 through 1970. 

This second Steiff dog on wheels comes sealed with a kiss.   This Sealyham is standing, 17 cm tall and 24 cm long nose to backside, unjointed, and made from long white mohair. His tail adds another 5 cm to his length. Sealy has a simple black hand embroidered mouth and nose, brown and black glass pupil eyes, and felt lined ears. He rides on four red off-center wooden wheels. Sealy retains his original red leather collar and brass bell, along with his long trailing f button.  He was produced on eccentric wheels in 17 and 22 cm from 1939 through 1943.  And, like Waldi, this model again appeared in the line post war, but for a much shorter interval.  He was available in 14 and 17 cm from 1949 through 1954.

Today's final highlight is a shoe in as a collector's favorite.  Here we have a nice example of a Hush Puppy Basset hound made for the footwear company of the same name.  He is sitting, unjointed, and is made from tan mohair that has been lovingly airbrushed in multiple shades of tan, brown, and black. He has has wonderfully long, droopy ears; a hand embroidered black nose; and realistic, dimensional soft jowls. Basset has brown airbrushed claws and extremely round, realistic-looking eyeballs that are embedded into his facial mask structure.  He retains his original red collar and all IDs, including his specially imprinted "Hush Puppies" chest tag.  

This delightful customer special was produced in 14 and 14 cm from 1970 through 1972, and is quite similar to Steiff's earlier, standard line 1960s-era Basset hounds.  These were produced from 1961 through 1963 in 12, 14, and 22 cm.  There are three main differences between the standard line Bassets and the Hush Puppy Bassets.  The Hush Puppy Bassets are unjointed, have a red collar, and have a special logo'ed chest tag.  The standard line Bassets are head jointed, have green collars, and have the word "Basset" on their chest tags.  

Steiffgal hopes this tour through Steiff's "kennel club" has lit a bit of a Steiff fire under you!

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

Friday, January 22, 2016

Crazy Like A Fox Over This Early Postwar Steiff Find!

Are you crazy like a fox?  Hey, there's nothing wrong with that, if your nuttiness is all about Steiff!  Steiffgal definitely fits that description - perhaps you do as well?!  Some of Steiffgal's favorite Steiff animal designs are the company's great foxes produced over the years.  So she was over-the-moon excited to adopt a delightful vintage example from an antique show she recently attended in Florida.  Check out this great example and see what makes him such a field and forest find!

Here we have Steiff's early postwar Fuchs or Fox.  His official "size" is 14 cm, but he actually measures 13 cm tall and 16 cm long.  His hefty and impressive tail adds another 10 cm.  He is standing on all fours, head joined, and made from tan mohair that has been airbrushed with vibrant, copper colored highlights all over the top of his body and head.  He has black airbrushed paws as well as black highlights on his nose, eyes, and around the periphery of his ears.  The insides of his ears and his lips have very light pink airbrushed highlights.  His face comes to life with a slightly shorter mohair muzzle, brown and black glass pupil eyes, and a black hand embroidered nose and mouth.  He truly has a realistic, yet playful look about him.  This model was made officially in 10, 14, and 17 cm from 1949 through 1957 overall.  Unlike the 14 and 17 cm versions, the 10 cm version is unjointed.

Who knew foxes cleaned up so well?  Steiff, apparently... as the company also produced this beloved design as a boy and girl pair of well dressed, head jointed fox dolls.  This dynamic duo was made in 25 cm from 1950 through 1954 and dons traditional German outfits made from fine felt, calicoes, and other top-tier materials. Their stiff, standing bodies are made from linen. Steiffgal has the boy in her collection but has been on the hunt for his girlfriend for ages!  She purchased him at the 2010 Steiff auction at Christie's in London.  A bucket list experience indeed. You can see this lonely bachelor pictured here on the left.

One thing that makes the fox pattern under discussion today so special is its legacy.  It was actually also produced pre-war in a number of variations.  These included a wool plush version available with or without wheels in 14, 17, and 22 cm made from 1933 through 1939 overall; a sitting wool plush version in 14, 17, and 22 cm made from 1932 through 1937 overall; and a mohair version in 14 and 17 cm made from 1937 through 1943.  

This pre- and postwar spanning model fits within a very interest point in the design evolution of Steiff foxes.  Steiff debuted its first fox in 1897; this model was made from felt, standing, and on metal wheels.  It was produced in 22 cm through 1905.  Next came the company's first mohair foxes in 1909.  These had a distinctive "Teddy bear" like face, black mohair trim around their ears, and an eye-catching white mohair inset chest panel. These were made fully jointed, sitting, and on wheels through 1933.  A nice example of this design is pictured here on the left. The fox design under discussion here followed immediately on the heels of the company's earliest mohair models.  It shares many transitional aesthetic features, but in essence is a simplified model (less jointing, less complicated manufacturing and detailing) than its predecessor's design.  By 1960, Steiff had simplied its mohair fox even further, with the introduction of Xorry Fox in 11, 18, and 28 cm.  Xorry appeared in the line through 1969.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's pre- and post war fox design has been a smooth transition for you.

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Looking To Become A Steiff Road Warrior?

Wanna get away? That was a popular advertising line from a big airline here in the US a few years back.  And it certainly rings a bell right now as many of us are facing freezing temperatures, ice, and too much snow. 

If you are indeed planning a vacation, have you ever considered proactively weaving a bit of your Steiff passion into it? Steiffgal has found numerous Steiff treasures while "on the road," both via quests as well as serendipity. There are many ways to add a little "button-in-ear" to practically any destination. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

General antique shows:
Antiques are a national passion, and for the most part, there are shows happening all over the country at any given time. Once you know your travel dates and destination(s), simply google this information along with words like "antique" and "show," and any major or promoted show should pop right up. Steiffgal recently took a trip to Florida. In preparation, she googled "Florida," "antique show," and "January 2016" and came up with two shows that were near her travel destinations. She found one great Steiff treasure at each.  

Doll and toy shows:
In addition to general antique shows, Steiff enthusiasts on the road may wish to time their visits to specific doll and toy shows - which often also feature great Steiff. A good website to see when many of these shows are happening is, which lists events by state and date. These could be smaller shows, and can be associated with regional doll clubs. But you can do quite well at these events, and it is always energizing to be around fellow collectors.  

Of course, the "mother of all doll shows" in the USA is the annual United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC) national event, which is held in July of each year. This gathering features a magnificent salesroom, which is open to the public for one day. It is truly worth the trip to see this museum-quality presentation, which always features a number of fabulous Steiff selections. You can read all about this annual show here: UFDC also holds a number of smaller regional events that can be wonderful Steiff destinations; these are listed here:
Local antique malls and stores
It is always fun to browse through area antique malls and stores, especially when the weather is not cooperating on a vacation day. And you never know what might turn up in the next glass showcase! Steiffgal has found that searching on is a good way to find the better destinations in any given area. You can also check out which lists area antique malls. But always call ahead to make sure that the store or mall will be open (or is still in business) when you plan to visit. 

Doll clubs: 
Doll clubs are another great source of information for Steiff collectors on the road. UFDC has clubs all over the world. These are posted by regions on the organization's website at Try pinging the area director of your destination area via email.  This contact information is available on the webpage. These folks should be able to tell you the best museums, destinations, and toy/doll/antique shopping in their areas. They will also be aware of any upcoming area toy events and shows that are open to the public.

And finally, Steiffgal would be amiss if she did not mention Facebook as a great way to add a little Steiff to any vacation. Putting up a post on your page requesting Steiff-centric destinations in a specific area is a good way of getting "boots on the ground" information. If you are comfortable with it, and you know a Facebook friend with a passion for Steiff who lives in the vicinity of your travels, perhaps contact them and suggest you meet for coffee. Steiffgal has done this numerous times and has made some great friends in the process!

Steiffgal hopes these recommendations will help you source some fantastic Steiff finds on your next vacation!

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

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Wishing You a Spectacular Seaside Steiff New Year!

Steiffgal hopes your New Year's holiday was peachy-keen. Or even better, beachy-keen! For collectors in the Northern hemisphere, we are entering the coldest and darkest part of the year. So how about heating things up with a Steiff fantasy trip to a favorite warmer weather destination - the beach! It's time to head off for a little sun and fun... and sand between our toes. Here are a few Steiff friends that call the shoreline "home."

Many wonderful birds feather their nests right along the oceanfront. Of course, it wouldn't be a day at the beach without a flock of seagulls within eye and earshot! Steiff's Movi Seagull is the perfect beach buddy.  He is 28 cm, unjointed, and made from white, black, and grey woven fur. He has black felt "feathers" on the tips of his wings. He is standing on large, poseable yellow velvet and felt webbed feet and has a yellow trivera velvet peak. Movi has black button eyes that are backed by red felt. Movi was produced from 1979 through 1981 and is relatively uncommon on the secondary market.

Beach visitors are likely to find a few herons standing tall among the beach grass and palm trees. Steiff's fantastic, life sized Grey Heron has a leg up over most of Steiff's studio birds in terms of rarity.  This big bird is 50 cm tall, unjointed, and standing on one leg. He is primarily made from short white and grey plush. He is brought to life with stenciled felt wings; long grey and white plush "feathering" on his back, chest, and head; and a long, thin yellow trivera velvet beak. His pert face is detailed with light green and black pupil eyes and a black plush "bandit style" mask across his forehead. And of course, it's no balancing act to notice his authentic, yellow trivera legs (or in this case, leg!) with its prominent, distinct "knee" and large four-toed foot. This Grey Heron was made from 1980 through 1984 in this size only.  

Just walking on the beach puts most folks in a good mood. Which may explain why Steiff's sand crabs are anything but cranky! Check out Steiff's cheerful and colorful take on these crustaceans.  Steiff's Cosy Clippy Crab is 10 cm, made from two colors of woven fur, and has felt claws and feet. His eyes are tiny and set deeply into his face. Clippy was produced from 1995 through 1996 in six - yes six - rainbow hues including violet, yellow, red, olive green, eggplant, and raspberry. 

It's time to take a deep dive and do some synchronized swimming with some of Steiff's best-loved water babies.  Start to "fin"-ish, collectors can't seem to get enough of Steiff's Flossy Fish.  Flossy was the first fish design launched post war in 1960. She is made from mohair in 13, 28, and 66 cm and detailed either in the blues, reds, or yellows.  The smallest versions have felt fins while the larger versions have mohair ones. All Flossies have oversized brown and black pupil eyes, playful felt lips, and are joyously hand airbrushed - perhaps to give the impression of swirling color under water. Flossy remained in the Steiff catalog through 1981.  

Put your feet up as we wind down this leisurely beach stroll.  And there's no more "aquatically appropriate" way to do that than with the company's spectacular starfish stool!  This five-legged lovely is 50 cm in diameter, 30 cm high, and made from mohair. She was actually originally designed as a "sitztier" or sitting animal for children. Her top is gloriously hand airbrushed in pumpkin-orange, brown, green, and cherry-red. Her underside is tan. The tips of her "feet" are made from a faux suede material, which feels quite similar to the faux suede material used on the pads of Steiff's mid to late-1950's pandas and Teddy babies. Starly has a yellow metal frame attached to the underside of her body via heavy tan strings. This "skeleton" gives her strength and stability, and holds her semi "arched" or standing position. She has grey rubber feet on the ends of this metal frame, to keep her in place and prevent floor scratching. Starly was produced in this size only (officially cataloged as "35 cm") from 1959 through 1969 - and is considered one of Steiff's "superstar" collector's items from this period.

Steiffgal hopes this little imaginary warm weather get-away has been as delightful as a day at the beach for you.

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

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