Sunday, June 5, 2016

Happiness Is A Warm (Steiff) Puppy From Morphy Auctions' Upcoming Toy Sale Event!

In the market for a new blue ribbon addition to your Steiff collection? There's practically an entire kennel of fabulous and unusual Steiff dogs on offer at Morphy Auctions' upcoming Premier Toy Sale on June 24th-26th, 2016. Paws and check out these collectible canine highlights and see what makes them so interesting from the design and feature perspectives.

Steiffgals' going out on a limb with this first pick - a Molliette "Charleston" dangling dog with ID. This is auction lot #802 and is cataloged as...

"This is a delightful 20 cm example of Steiff's "Molliette". She has a mohair puppy head; long, soft unjointed dangling limbs; and mohair hands, paws, and tail. Her body, arms, and legs are made from a lovely shade of lilac velvet that has darkened slightly over time. She has very large black and brown glass pupil eyes and black, hand embroidered claws, nose, and mouth. She retains her original bell, tattered lime green neck ribbon, ring, and pompom as accessories; her tan hanging ribbon may be a replacement. Molliette is one of a series of "play and car dolls" in the Steiff catalog from 1927-1932. These were based on the most popular named Steiff characters of the time. Each had the head of the character, mohair paws and feet, and dangling velvet limbs. Most were available in several bright, happy "jelly bean" colors and in 20, 30, and 43 cm. It has been suggested that the design of this series was based on a similar line from the Chad Valley Toy Company of England called "Tango Toys." Molliette has her most exceptional metal-rimmed chest tag as her Steiff ID. Condition: As noted. Slightly dusty but in very good to excellent condition overall. Provenance: From a Florida estate. Size 8-1/2'' T. Estimate: $800 - 1,600."

Good golly, what a great Molly! This Molliette design is a example of many of the influences that really took priority in the 1920's for Steiff. Its core "Molly the Puppy" pattern, introduced in 1925, was specifically designed to be as soft, fluffy, and child-like as possible. Her candy hued body - appearing in blue, pink, orange, purple, green, or yellow - reflected Richard Steiff's directive to add color and interest to the company's product lines, as well as a distinctly feminine appeal. And her novel design, based on the Charleston dance craze, shows how Steiff - despite its location in rural southern Germany - was keenly aware of worldwide cultural trends and their importance in growing their footprint and reputation as an international leader in the toy industry. Teddy Rose, pictured here on the left, was also in the line around the same time as Molliette, and shares many of these same design priorities. 

Steiffgal's second highlight, an early King Charles Spaniel, is eye candy in many ways. This is auction lot #818 as is cataloged as...

"This very interesting and early Steiff King Charles Spaniel is 21 cm tall and 37 cm wide, unjointed, and standing on all fours. She is made from white and copper colored mohair, which has thinned and darkened over time. She has long ears and a playful tail. Most interestingly, her oversized black eyes are backed in orange felt; this is the first time this cataloger has ever seen this outstanding and all original detailing. Her pouty face comes to life with a hand embroidered brown nose and mouth. This handsome design was produced in 17, 22, and 25 cm from 1924-1927. Condition: As noted. Spaniel retains her tiny trailing "F" Steiff button. Dog has been professionally cleaned and partially restuffed. With surface losses commensurate to age. In good to very good condition overall. Size 14'' L. Estimate: $200 - 300."

This sweet King Charles Spaniel is a prince of a pick. And, his felt backed eyes make him quite the looker. It was not that uncommon in the past for Steiff to add a felt backing to an animal's eye to help give its face a bit more depth and emotion. Perhaps the best example of this is the red felt the company used behind the eyes of its all-black Titanic Mourning bears from 1912. An 18" tall example of these rare and beloved bears - sold by Morphy's for $34,800 in 2011 - is pictured here on the left. Steiff has also used felt backed eyes on some of their rabbits, birds, and squirrels, among other species. However, this is the first time that Steiffgal knows of where the company has used orange felt to back the eyes of a dog, or any species at all!

This final auction highlight is truly Ivy League. This is lot #861, an extraordinarily rare Steiff standing Yale Bulldog. He is cataloged as...

"This standing, head jointed Yale Bulldog does not appear in the standard Steiff reference books. However, he is pictured in the 1951 FAO Schwarz catalog, along with seven other Steiff college and military mascots. His price at the time was $10.00. The dog is made from mohair and is realistically hand airbrushed with black, tan, and brown highlights. His comical face comes to life with one black ear and one tan ear; unusual “squint” style black and blue eyes; a black glass button nose; and elaborate jowls. He wears a blue and white felt Yale blanket and a red studded collar. He retains his US zone tag, button, and yellow ear tag as his Steiff IDs. Condition: As noted. Very good to excellent condition overall. Estimate: $600 - 1,200."

And just what makes this one top dog? His marvelous, clean condition; extremely appealing presentation; fantastic construction (with a face only a Steiff collector could love); and absolute rarity, to start with! It's also easy to take a shine to his black glass nose and black and blue glass eyes - both which are quite distinctive for his period. This style black glass nose is also seen on Steiff's early postwar poodles, while these blue and black eyes are also key design element of the company's legacy Lulac rabbit, introduced in 1952. This is only the second standing example Steiffgal has ever seen of this particular mascot pattern, the sitting ones are a bit more common. This examples is in by far the best shape of them all. You can see the original catalog page from the FAO Schwarz catalog here; click on the image to enlarge it a bit in a new window. 

Steiffgal hopes this review of fine canine highlights from Morphy's upcoming June, 2016 toy auction has got your tail a-wagging for this great event!

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

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