Oh boy! Literally! Santa stopped off at Steiffgal's house a tad early, delivering this sweet little guy just in time for the holidays. He came all the way from Germany and was won at a recent toy sale there. Steiffgal has a thing for Steiff's early felt dolls, but she was particularly excited about this darling little man. Here's a little bit about him, and what makes him so interesting from the collector's perspective.
This handsome devil is Steiff's Seppl. He is a great example of the company's pressed felt faced dolls, which appeared in the line overall from about 1936 through the very early 1950's. Seppl is 35 cm tall, standing, solidly stuffed with excelsior, leg and head jointed, and made from felt. He has lovely and very real looking blue, white, and black glass pupil eyes, a mischievous facial expression, and a shock of blond mohair hair. He wears a very traditional German outfit. This consists of black wool shorts with green embroidery; green suspenders; a white button down cotton shirt with a collar; a grey wool jacket trimmed in green with leather buttons; a green Alpine style hat; black tie style shoes; and grey and green knitted calf socks. Seppl was produced in this size only from 1938 through 1943.
Seppl and his fellow seamless felt faced dolls were introduced in the late 1930's and were the "stars" of many of the company's advertising and sales materials at that time. This is understandable, given their charming presentation and personalities. Here on the left you can spot Seppl and his gal-pal Lisl, who is also dressed in traditional clothing, as they appeared in one of the company's sales catalogs from 1938/1939. You can see from his information that he is supposed to weigh 220 g (Steiffgal weighed her Seppl, who came in at 213 g); measure 35 cm (true) and cost 6.80 marks at the time. In 1938, 2.49 marks = $1 USD; as such, 6.80 marks = $2.73 USD. According to inflation calculators, $2.73 in 1938 had the same buying power as $44.84 in 2016.
Steiff has a half century of tradition of creating delightful cloth dolls, starting around 1903. It is interesting to note that Steiff's earliest dolls were, for the most part, overwhelmingly male in gender. Models included policemen, soldiers, soccer players, scouts, and other truly masculine designs. It wasn't until around 1909 that Steiff started creating both male and female doll models on a relatively large scale. However, through the late 19-teens or early 1920's, many were still male, as the company's lines of international soldier and police dolls were a major emphasis on production. You can see three typical male Steiff felt dolls here on the left from the c. 1909 through 1916 time frame.
After WWI, the gender balance in Steiff's doll production changed significantly. The soldier and police dolls were no longer of great interest, and Steiff's production of them dropped dramatically. Female dolls started gaining popularity, and more and more were seen in the catalog. By the time that seamless pressed felt faced dolls like Seppl appeared in the catalog, the company was really focusing on producing girl dolls for little girls. For example, Steiff produced 27 versions of its pressed felt faced dolls in the 1938-1943 period. Of those models produced, only 7 were boys, Seppl being one of them. As such, Steiff boy dolls from this period are quite rare. You can see Seppl's cousin Rosl, who was produced from 1939 through 1941, here on the left. Once the factory reopened for toy making business in the late 1940's, Steiff again produced these pressed felt faced dolls for a handful of years. However, all of the post war models were girls.
Steiffgal hopes that you have enjoyed learning about Seppl, and that Santa also brings you a marvelous vintage Steiff treasure this year as well. Happy holidays, dear Steiff readers!
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