Here we have Steiff's “Cenzi” doll in her original labeled box, including its original tissue paper. She is one of Steiff's "pressed felt faced dolls," which debuted in the company's catalogs in the mid to late 1930's. Cenzi is 35 cm tall, head and leg jointed, and made from felt. She wears a dress made from red and blue artificial silk fabric. It is detailed with a felt collar, white sleeves, and a matching apron. Her hat is made from yellow felt and her shoes are made from red felt. Cenzi has all of her IDs, including her named chest tag, Steiff button, and yellow tag, which are worn on a red rubber bracelet around her wrist.
Cenzi's box is made from heavy brown cardboard. It is held together with metal staples. On one end, there is a tan and blue label that is printed with the words "Steiff, Made in Germany, Importe D'Allemagne, and Marke Knopf Im Or," and a Teddy bear face. The label is printed with the words "Cenzi 95/35." The other end of the box is plain, without any marks.
What's so interesting about Cenzi is that her detailing really spans both pre- and postwar norms for these sorts of dolls. Even her IDs, including her tiny trailing "F" button, watermelon shaped bear faced chest tag, and yellow wrist tag are seen on both pre- and early postwar models. According to records, Cenzi was “officially” produced in 1949-50. However, she has several subtle features that could possibly put her production up to a decade earlier.
First, Cenzi has her US Zone tag hand stitched into her apron. This might be because she was originally made without one before the factory shut down for toy making operations during WWII. As all toys leaving the factory in the late 1940's and very early 1950's required this tag, it might have been sewn on in a convenient place just before her distribution. Other similar post 1950 Steiff dolls usually have this tag sewn into one of their limb seams. You can see this detailing here on the left on another Steiff doll of the period.
Second, Cenzi has "quality control" issues that suggest she was produced at a very challenging time with limited resources - perhaps in the early 1940's. It is interesting to note that she has mismatching ribbons on her hat. They are not faded, they really are different. One is pink and the other one is red. This is most unusual in terms of quality control for Steiff. And even though she is "new in box" with no other play wear, 2 out of 3 of her dress snaps are are missing paint and appear chipped. It is entirely possible that her clothing was manufactured with these damaged buttons and left over scraps of ribbon were used on her hat as no alternatives were available. She also has a cheek rub, but upon close inspection it appears from the factory and not as a result of rough handling.
Finally, the series and article numbers printed on her label correspond to the company's pre-war doll numbering system. According to the Sortiment books, the pre-war pressed felt faced dolls had a series number of 95, while the postwar pressed felt faced dolls had a series number of 90.
So when indeed was this timeless beauty's birthday? Only she knows for sure, and she's not talking! But what is certain is that like all of Steiff's wonderful dolls, bears, and animals, she has stood the test of time and will be admired - and studied - for generations to come.
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.