Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Begging For More Information On This Remarkable Steiff Bonzo With All IDs!

Here's one "bucket list" Steiff item most enthusiasts would get on their hands and knees to add to their collection! Check out this truly remarkable velvet begging Bonzo dog from 1927 - with all IDs! Steiffgal's pal Daniel Agnew, of Special Auction Services in the UK, will be auctioning it off as part of his June 9, 2016 sales event. The full catalog for this exciting event will be online in the next week or so.  In the meantime, let's check out this top dog and see what makes him so desirable from the design and historical perspectives.

This comical canine, lot 848 in the upcoming sale, is cataloged as...

"An extremely rare Steiff Begging Bonzo 1927, of cream velvet, clear glass eyes with dark pink and light pink backs, red felt tongue, black velvet right rear, swivel head, jointed limbs, painted and airbrushed facial features and paw pads, inoperative squeaker, original red leather collar with white card tag with metal rim ‘Begging Bonzo Steiff Original’ one side and ‘Germany Copyright G.E. Studdy’ to the reverse, FF button with complete red tag numbered 5417 - 9in. (23cm.) high (very slightly discoloured and stomach seam resewn) - According to Steiff 115 examples of Bonzo was made in eight sizes, all were unsold as G. E. Studdy did not like their samples and the license went with to the Chad Valley version. Seven examples in different sizes are retained in the Steiff archive, but it is not known what happened to the others. Steiff went onto produce a similar looking character dog which they called Cheerio £10,000-£15,000"

This Bonzo is truly in a class by itself... almost! It is only the second one ever that Steiffgal personally has seen go up for sale, and the first ever in this size. In 2010, Christie's in London sold a 27 cm version with all IDs for £16,250 or $25,724! This Christie's example had his red Steiff tag numbered "5422," meaning 5=jointed, 4=velvet, and 22=22 cm sitting. This big boy appears here on the left; the photo is from Christie's.

Although Bonzo never "officially" made the Steiff line, he did make a little known appearance in another rare novelty pattern of the time. Bonzo was produced as a "Bonzoette," which was a very long limbed, dressed version of his design. These items were called "car and play" dolls or "Charleston Animals," based on the Charleston dance craze of the 1920’s, with its fast moving arm and leg movements. Other "play and car dolls" included Bulliette, the bulldog, Fluffiette, the cat, and Rabbiette, the rabbit. Each doll had the head of the character, mohair or velvet paws and feet, and dangling velvet limbs. Most were available in several bright, happy "jelly bean" colors and in 20, 30, and 43 cm, with the larger sizes having a squeaker. Bonzo was made in 30 and 43 cm in blue or orange in 1928 only and is arguably the rarest of all of these "play and car" dolls. These long legged Steiff novelties appeared overall in the line from 1927 through 1932. A picture of Bonzoette appears on the left, it is taken from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment Book

As noted in the cataloging above, Bonzo is in part responsible for the design and introduction of another late 1920's Steiff rarity, Cheerio the Puppy. This pattern is known for his todder-esque appearance, huge eyes, open mouth, and happy-go-lucky personality. Several versions were produced. A begging version was manufactured in 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1928 though 1931. Begging Cheerio was also made as a press and release music pup in 22 and 28 cm from 1928 through 1930. Cheerio was also manufactured standing on all fours in 10, 14, 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1928 through 1932. Standing Cheerio also appeared as a press and release music box in 17 and 22 cm from 1928 through 1930. And, like Bonzo, Cheerio was also produced as a "car and play doll." "Cheerioette" appeared in the line 30 and 43 cm from 1928 through 1931.  A begging Cheerio, from Steiffgal's collection, is pictured here on the left. 

Be sure to check out Daniel's amazing Steiff Bonzo, and other Steiff and Teddy treasures, at the upcoming SAS toy auction event on June 9th, 2016.  For more information on this sale, please click here!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's fantastic and really rare Bonzo dog has gotten your tail a'wagging!

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

1 comment:

  1. Steiff did a reproduction of Bonzo a few years ago. It turns out that the airbrushing on the Bonzo was so difficult that only one Steiff worker really had the skill to do it. That one person did the airbrushing on all 1500 of the pieces!

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