Saturday, August 13, 2016

Put A Tiger In Your Tank With These Great And Unusual Steiff Postwar Tiger Designs!

Steiffgal has always had a thing for Steiff tigers. After all, who can resist their friendly/fierce personalities, delightful coloring, and the remarkable detailing that bring these big cats to life? Steiff has featured these grrr-eat wild animals in their line almost continuously since 1915, with the first cubs being made of mohair and fully jointed. Given their history and appeal, Steiffgal thought it would be fun to "catch a tiger by the tail" and check out three of the company's rarer post war examples.


Let's kick things off by sinking our teeth into this large and impressive Steiff Bengal tiger. This handsome cat is sitting, unjointed, 43 cm tall, and made from beautifully hand-airbrushed tan mohair. He has green and black pupil eyes, a pink and black shield-shaped embroidered nose, clear monofilament whiskers, and black embroidered claws. His chin, ears, and sideburns are made from long, white mohair. His most distinctive feature is his well formed and open mouth - which is lined in peach colored felt - and detailed with four large embedded wooden teeth. He is either grinning broadly or yawning; perhaps this depends on the time of the day! 


This beautiful Bengal beast was made in 14, 22, and 43 cm from 1959 through 1961 only. The medium and large ones are quite rare on the secondary market. Only the medium and large examples have wooden teeth; the smallest baby size one is toothless - perhaps Steiff thought he was still teething when he was being designed! All three sizes have impressive, long tails.

Our next tiger highlight truly has spirit - school spirit, that is! Here we have Steiff's seldom seen, 25 cm tall Steiff tiger made as a mascot for Princeton University. Smarty-pants is sitting, head jointed, and made from tan mohair that has been brought to life with realistic orange and black airbrushing. He has green and black pupil eyes "cartoon" style eyes, an early pattern pink nose outlined in black, clear monofilament whiskers, and black embroidered claws. His sideburns are made from  long, white mohair. Like his Bengal buddy, this pattern also features a prominent, well designed open mouth - which is lined in peach colored felt - and detailed with four proportionally sized, embedded wooden teeth. He has a working squeaker in his belly. When he was new, he left the factory in Giengen wearing a black and orange felt "Princeton" blanket. 

This Princeton University Prince was made in this size only in 1952 as a special edition for the United States. Other larger Steiff mascots produced in the early 1950's included a 28 cm lion for Columbia University, a 21 cm lioness for Columbia University, a 28 cm bulldog for Yale University, and a 28 cm goat for the Navy, among others. Smaller 1950's era cataloged mascots included a 14 cm bulldog for Yale University, 12 and 14 cm donkeys for the Army, as well as a 12 cm donkey wearing a "DEM" felt blanket for the US Democratic party! (To keep things balanced, Steiffgal once saw a small Steiff elephant wearing a "REP" felt blanket.  This example was probably made as special item for the US Republican party but somehow did not make it into the standard Steiff reference books or cataloging.)

Well, if this discussion hasn't put you to sleep yet, this final example should do the trick. Here we have a most unusual Steiff tiger pajama bag. He measures about 40 cm long and about 20 cm tall. He is in Steiff’s “lying” position, meaning he is curled up with his legs resting gently to his side. He has piercing green and black eyes, a pink embroidered nose, and tufts of longer mohair around his jowls. Tiger is head jointed and made from short tan mohair, which has been "tiger-ized" with careful orange and black airbrushing. Right down the middle of his back is a long metal zipper that extends from practically his neck to his tail; this hides his internal silk-lined pouch designed to  hold the sleepwear of a toddler!

As far as Steiffgal can tell, this tiger pajama bag does not appear in any of Steiff's standard reference books. It is her guess that this tired tiger is probably a modification of Steiff’s standard-line lying tiger cub, which was produced from 1953 through 1978 in 17, 28, 43, and 60 cm.  Steiffgal has also heard of other uncataloged Steiff pajama bags made from standard line designs including turtles and lions.

Steiffgal hopes this review of rare Bengals, mascots, and novelties has indeed put a tiger in YOUR tank!


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

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