Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cataloging Steiff's Display Rarities From The Mid 1960's

A great way to learn more about vintage button-in-ear rarities is to go to the source - literally! Steiff has always been consistent in producing sales materials, catalogs, and literature about their product line over time, and these original documents are like miniature time capsules of information for collectors. Steiffgal recently purchased a specialty catalog from 1967 which features the company's vast range of lifesized animals produced 50 years ago. The cover, which has a family of display orangutans, is shown here on the left. These include a 130 cm or 52 inch papa, a 120 cm or 48 inch mama, and a 40 cm or 16 inch baby. Let's take a peek inside this great reference and see what it has to say!

The catalog cover itself measures about 23 cm wide and 17 cm tall and is designed like a binder, with metal rings holding the hole-punched sheets in place. The introduction page - which is written in German, French, and English - reads: "Besides the famous toy animals we also manufacture animals in natural until twice natural size. They are most popular for shop windows and stores to draw the attention of the buyers of our mark. Those animals are made of the same good mohair, plush, or nylon  and have a metal frame. If a person wants to sit on them, it would be better to add a metal ring which unites the four legs. This ring must be paid extra.

The catalog is beautifully illustrated with full color photography throughout. The pages are printed single sided, with blank backs. The catalog contains mostly "beauty shots" of the company's display line, but also has a few pages in the front which offer sales and shelving items, including price tags, lighting, signage, and merchandisers. Perhaps the most interesting page is shown here on the left. Check out the range of display pieces for smaller items, including what looks like green metal "cots" for the company's sleeping style cosy items. Steiffgal has never seen these in real life, have you?

Now let's make a big deal over some display animal highlights. The catalog has over 80 individual pages featuring these lifesized lovelies, so its difficult to pick out just a few. Several species, like elephants and the big jungle cats, were well represented with several models of each on offer. Here are some examples that really caught Steiffgal's eye - for their rarity, beauty, or just plain goofiness. (You can click on all the photos to make them bigger and read the catalog page details.)

It's never too early to start putting together your Christmas wish list! And Steiffgal bets just about every vintage Steiff collector would love to find this almost lifesized Santa Claus doll under their holiday tree! Santa stands 150 cm or 60 inches tall and is based on the company's beloved standard line postwar rubber faced Santa doll, who was produced in 13, 18, and 31 cm from 1953 to 1963 overall. Steiffgal has only seen one example of this display sized man in red firsthand - he's as rare as his namesake!

There's not a hare out of place when it comes to this next display highlight. This great mohair pattern looks to be for the most part a prehistoric proportioned Manni rabbit, given his begging position and coloring - with a little bit of Niki rabbit's facial detailing in the mix for good measure. And given that Steiff traditionally does not include ear length when measuring rabbits, this honey bunny is even larger than his 80 cm or 31-1/2 inch "official" size. Just for comparison, check out the teeny tiny Perri squirrel in the photo - he's probably only 12 or 17 cm! 

Now let's cool things down a bit with this jolly sitting polar bear. His body position is quite distinctive - he seems to be squatting on his bent legs. He must be carefully balanced, given the size and scale of his portly midriff. Another picture of him that Steiffgal has seen shows a metal rod base stand mounted strategically on his "bare bottom," probably to help keep him upright. This 180 cm or 72 inch perky polar bear has really prominent rubber claws, faux suede pads, and a million dollar smile. 

This busy pair only want to be your beasts of burden. The display catalog features two donkey designs, but Steiffgal thought this dralon, open-mouthed pattern was a bit more interesting than the other, given its seldom seen accessories. Steiff does a great job with farm animals, and their donkeys have broad and universal appeal. Sometimes they are produced "au naturel," while other models feature brindles and/or saddles. The company's early "Democratic" donkey mascot don a blue felt blanket. Whatever your political affiliation, it's very easy to get carried away over these 120 cm or 48 inch and 90 cm or 35 inch Steiff donkeys adorned with functional, hand-woven raffia baskets!

No need to trash-talk over this fantastic, lifesized black and white mohair Steiff Cockie Cocker Spaniel. It is interesting to note that Steiff's mid to late 20th century sitting black and white Cockers are in the form of rare novelties, including a tail turns head model and a musical version. There is no "standard line" postwar black and white sitting Cocker. So this guy must be pretty special! This catalog page illustration has it all - a great and seldom seen 80 cm or 32 inch display rarity, an authentic situation all dog owners can relate to, and little Steiff friends hidden in the mess.  

Anyone care to dance? It's hard to resist these two humongous and utterly charming mohair Zotty bears. Clearly these big bruins are based on the company's legacy mohair Zotty Teddy bear pattern, which appeared in the line from 1951 through 1978 in sizes ranging from 17 to  100 cm. These cavorting cubs seem to be having the time of their lives. Could that have something to do with the large beer keg and two porcelain steins in the background? These display items measure 80 cm or 35 inches and 100 cm or 40 inches, respectively. 

Bird's the word with this final display pick. Here we have two royal looking Crown Crane birds, measuring in at 140 cm or 56 inches each. Both are standing, unjointed, and elaborately detailed in various colors and lengths of mohair materials. They balance elegantly on metal framed legs that are covered in felt and realistically airbrushed. Steiffgal has seen and handled a number of Steiff display birds from this period, including a flamingo and an ostrich, (both also featured in this catalog) but never the company's cranes. It is her strongest suspicion that like the flamingo and the ostrich, these cranes were designed with removable heads and necks for ease of packing, shipping, and storage. 

Steiffgal hopes you found this discussion on Steiff's 1960-era display items larger than life.

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Care To Feather Your Nest With This Vintage Steiff Play Duck?

It's easy to go quackers over Steiff's ducks.  These fantastic fowl favorites have made a red carpet appearance in Steiff's commercial catalogs since their debut in 1892, first appearing in felt.  Steiffgal recently adopted a vintage and very darling duckling into her collection.  Waddle on over and check out some of his interesting, prewar design features.

What collector would not want to feather their nest with this dapper duck?   This toy is officially named "Play Duck." He is standing, 22 cm tall, unjointed, and stuffed with excelsior. Play Duck is made from yellow wool plush fabric.  His beak and feet are dimensional and are made from matching yellow felt. His feet are lined in wire and are posable.  His two small wings are spread out playfully along his back. Play Duck's eyes are made from black buttons and are backed in red felt circles - a design feature often seen on Steiff's birds.  He has a nonworking squeaker in his torso. He retains his short trailing "f" style Steiff button in his wing as his ID.  Play Duck was made in this size only from 1933 through 1943.

It's hard not to notice Play Duck's interesting material.  Wool plush is a lovely toy making fabric as it is durable, high quality, and gives items a charming, old fashioned look.  It has a "fuzzy" feeling to it, and even though it is also produced on a cotton backing like mohair, its fibers are more "continuous" than mohair fibers, which tend to be a little more "prickly" and distinctive.  Steiff often used wool plush as a substitute fabric in the place of mohair for a few years before and a few years after World War II, when the company's more traditional mohair and felt fabrics were sanctioned or not available at all. When you see a vintage Steiff item made from wool plush, there's a really good chance that it was made in the 1930's through early 1950's time frame.

Play Duck's felt features are also quite charming, and give him a toddler-esque look.  

First... his tootsies.  His somewhat oversized feet are actually webbed, like a real duck, and allow him to stand and balance easily.  His "toes" are formed by the stitching on his feet.  

Second... his beak. His two part, open beak is positioned in such a way that he appears to be smiling. It is detailed with two small grey marks on the top, indicating his nostrils. Most prewar Steiff ducks either have closed dimensional beaks, or simpler beaks made from orange single or double thick flat felt. As such, this is one lucky ducky! Remarkably, both Play Duck's feet and his beak are stuffed with excelsior.  Just imagine the precision, time, and skill required to do that!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on her new fine feathered friend had all its ducks in a row.

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

Flipping Out Over This Super-Sized Steiff Seal!

Care to dive head first into a little Steiff mystery?  Then take a look at this question from a new friend from Down Under, who asks about a delightful, well traveled rarity originally purchased in Japan.  Through a series of notes, Allison shares...

Hi from Australia!

I have a Steiff seal that is so big that I can not find him in any of the lists available to me.  He was purchased as a one off in the Steiff shop in Tokyo some years ago for a very high price. The Japanese lady who purchased him said she carried it on to the plane and he took up a spare seat with her in business class. Lucky seal!

His label reads on one side "PA55 MASS73 Covering 65% PAC 35% Cotton," and on the other side "Made in Germany for Steiff Knopf im ohr." There is evidence of some very faded numbers but I am certainly not able to discern them even under bright light.

The gold button is buried deep in the thick fur, with the end of the yellow label, and is bright and clear. It is on the front flipper. The fur is very detailed and varies in patterning over the whole animal. It is like a real fur coat with lots of tones of soft browns, creams and some grey blushings. There is a very definite lay of the fur just like a real animal's coat. 

He has about a 30 inch waist and while the length is hard to measure he is about 40 inches along the table top... without stretching his flippers!  

Would you be able to tell me about him, and his approximate value today?

Many thanks for your help. Cheers, Allison" 

Wow, this find makes quite a splash! What Allison has here appears to be Steiff's very large "Sitting Seal."  This great item is resting on his belly and front flippers, softly stuffed, and made from woven fur. He is officially measured at 100 cm, his length. From what Steiffgal can research, he is among the largest, if not the largest, example of a seal pattern Steiff has ever made on a commercial level. The company has made several 80 cm seals in the past, starting with two display patterns from 1960. Allison's seal was made from 1995-1996 and is not cataloged as a display piece, although it's dimensions certainly qualify it for that status. 

It is interesting to note how big seals actually are in real life. The largest species, Southern Elephant Seals, can weigh up to 8,500 pounds; males measure about 20 feet long while females are about half as long. Even the smallest seals are pretty big; Ringed Seals average 5 feet in length and usually weigh between 110 and 150 pounds, 
with males and females being about equal in size. As such, if Allison's seal was "lifesized," it would most likely be a lifesized baby seal.

Now for the question that throws Steiffgal into the deep end - his value.  As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and she has not seen this seal firsthand to inspect for condition and issues that don't appear on film, like odors, insect damage, and other subtle losses and problems.  Given he is clean and as presented, Steiffgal thinks an auction bid in the $400-600 range might seal the deal for him here in the USA.  

Steiffgal hopes you found this discussion on Allison's big seal beachy-keen!

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

This Orange Tipped Bully The Bulldog Hand Puppet Is On Fire!

You gotta hand it to Steiff - their early character puppets are simply marvelous! Often based on their most popular patterns of the time, favorite pre-war models include Molly the Puppy, Teddy baby, and Treff the Bloodhound. Recently, Steiffgal got to meet another top dog from this rare category - a Bully the Bulldog puppet! Check out this happy handful and see what makes this puppet so special from the design and collector's perspectives.

This Bully is on fire - really! His body and arms are made from white mohair, his ears are made from vibrant flame-orange tipped mohair, and his muzzle is made from tan velvet. Bully stands 17 cm tall. His head and the tips of his arms are stuffed with excelsior. He has three black hand embroidered claws on each of his padless paws. Bully's pouty face comes to life with oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, freckles, and brown airbrushed highlights. His ears are lined in wire and are posable; this is a great feature also seen on other playful patterns of his era including Petsy the Baby Bear.  Bully puppet wears his original decorative horsehair collar and bell and retains his long trailing "f" button and traces of his white ear tag as his Steiff IDs. This hand puppet was made in 17 or 18 cm in orange and white or brown and white from 1927 to 1935 overall; he was also produced with a hand-activated voice for a few years as well. 

So just how old is this example, in either dog or people years? Given this Bully had/has a white ear tag, which technically appeared through 1926, it is quite possible that he was manufactured at the beginning of his production timeline, in early 1927.  As such, he was most likely branded with a leftover white ear tag on hand instead of the company's newer red version.  These red ear tags were introduced in 1927.  How can you resist this face??

This pattern has a most colorful history. Steiff introduced Bully to the world in 1927 and he was an instant sensation with both children (as a plaything) and adults (as a collectible and an accessory). He was modeled on the French Bulldog—the “it” companion of those in the know all across Europe at the time. These top dogs were produced in a number of color combinations, including black and white, orange and white, and brown and white.  A rare blue-and-white version was also manufactured, and Steiffgal has even seen a photo of a red and white one! This was probably a prototype and never put into production. Full bodied versions are usually seen in sitting or standing positions, in sizes ranging from 10 to 50 centimeters. This original Bully pattern was produced overall through 1939.  

Like many of Steiff's most beloved patterns, Bully the Bulldog was also produced in a number of theme and variation items and novelties.  These included a pincushion, music box, dog-doll, nightdress bag, wheeled and riding versions, and this puppet example, among other product line extensions. Most Bullies came detailed with a horsehair ruff or a button-studded leather collar.  It is extra-special to find a Bully with his horsehair collar intact, as these are quite ephemeral and tend to break or fall off over time. Today, this precious prewar pooch pattern is one of the most universally desirable and sought-after pre-war Steiff designs among collectors. He has been replicated numerous times over the past few decades and even these newer models are coveted by collectors.  The photo on the left is from a 1929 catalog and pictures a number of Steiff's beloved character puppets including an orange and white Bully; this illustration is from Carsten Esser's fabulous new book, Steiff Kataloge 1920-1929. Just click on the image to make it larger.  

Steiffgal hopes that you'll give a thumbs up to this interesting hand puppet discussion!

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This Exceptional and Early Steiff Bear Is Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice!

Well, hello handsome! Yes, it's OK to stare... he's used to it! This week's blog special guest is not a Hollywood hunk, although with some Steiff collectors, his good looks are on par with many of the leading men of the big and little silver screens! Steiffgal recently had the opportunity to spend some time with a magnificent and early Steiff bear, and wanted to share his perfect and period (and irresistible) detailing with you. 

This sweet and all original cub is sugar and spice and everything nice! He is fully jointed, solidly stuffed with excelsior, and measures 16 inches tall standing and 11 inches tall sitting. His felt pads are tan and he has four hand-embroidered claws on each paw. You can't help but notice his unusual color, which is a magnificent cinnamon hue. Although it is challenging to absolutely capture almost any color on film and on screen, his eye-catching color really does match the deep orange-brown glow of a cinnamon stick!

Ted's proportions make him one sexy senior citizen. Steiff's early bears have a relatively consistent scale. As such, its no numbers game to determine if a vintage Teddy bear may have been manufactured by Steiff many years ago. For the most part, Steiff’s early 1900’s bears have torsos (measured from neck to crotch) that are twice as long as their heads (measured from crown of head to neck.) This bear's torso and head measure 8" and 4", respectively. Steiff's bears from this era have relatively large feet, in a ratio of 1:5 to the bear’s height, measured standing. This bear stands 16 inches tall, and his feet, measured heel to toe, are c. 3-1/4" long. And these bears have extra long limbs, with their arms extending to their "knees” when standing. And why is this? Because they were originally designed to stand on all fours, as illustrated in the photo to the left. This Cinny seems to fits the mold to a "T" here!

Let's face it, you can't help but fall in love with this bear's handsome expression. His face comes to life with several features that have captured collector's hearts for over a century. His black wooden shoe button eyes, faded black nose and mouth stitching, and trimmed muzzle area are delightful and so typical to Steiff. And heading off any doubt about his authenticity, this bear also retains his still shiny "trailing F" style button and traces of his white ear tag as his Steiff IDs. It is interesting to note that his mohair coloring inside his ears, as well around other areas "where the sun don't shine" is an even more vibrant cinnamon color. This is likely because these places were protected from any light or other environmental conditions that trigger fading.

Although it is impolite to ask about age, it is Steiffgal's best guess that this terrific Ted was born in the 1908-1910 time frame. Here's why. From his provenance, it is known that he was given to a little girl who was born in 1903. Ted's classic detailing, including his curved wrists, pronounced back hump, and long thin feet with narrow ankles are clearly early 20th century. His black shoe button eyes, for the most part, date him no later than 1910 or so. His button and ear tag are also completely consistent with this dating. Ted's prominent, hand-sewn chest seam also hides a clue to his date of manufacture. He has a non-working growler in his torso; these were invented by Margarete Steiff's nephew Paul Steiff and debuted in the company's bears starting in 1908.

Steiffgal hopes this introduction to this delightful and rare cinnamon Steiff bear has spiced up your day just a pinch!

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

This Tiny Steiff Bully Dog Has Enormous Wheel-Appeal!

Don't you just love it when you come across a Steiff treasure that you didn't realize even existed? That's the case with this week's fine find, a tiny and early post war Bully Bulldog on wheels. Steiffgal found him hiding amongst a delightful collection of vintage playthings at a booth at a regional doll and antique toy show in the New England area. Come take a look at this petite treat and see what makes him so dog-gone charming from the collector's perspective. 

This diminutive doggie has enormous wheel-appeal. Bully on wheels is based upon Steiff's smallest standard line postwar Bulldog pattern. He is 10 cm, standing, made from tan mohair, and is head jointed. His head, body, and tail are gloriously hand-painted with delightful brown and black spots and striping. He has brown and black pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, felt ears, and an elaborately and realistically constructed velvet muzzle. His airbrushed claws are black. Bully retains his original red collar and raised script style Steiff button as his ID. Steiff's overall Bully Bulldog pattern was produced in 10, 17, and 22 cm from 1951 through 1974; Bully on wheels was produced in 10 cm only from 1954 through 1957 and then again in 1960.

Rolling along, now let's take a look at Bully's dynamic details. Bully glides along on four red off-center wooden eccentric wheels.  The wheels are connected with two silver metal rods - one in the front and one in the back. This wheel configuration gives Bully the appearance of bobbing up and down as he is pulled along. Each of his four feet is connected to the rods with tan thread stitching. There are little grooves in the rods that secure the stitching in place. Bully had a matching pull string attached to his front rod when he left the factory in Giengen, Germany; this unfortunately has been lost to time.  

Steiff has a long and lovely history of putting their most popular animal patterns on wheels. The earliest rolling Steiff treasures were on metal wheels; by the nineteen-teens to early 1920's most if not all examples had wooden wheels. Wooden wheels were sometimes left natural in color, other times they were brightly painted in bright, primary hues including red, green, and blue. 

Strangely, Steiff's "eccentric wheel" detailing debuted in 1912. Steiff even holds a patent for this unusual wheel and axle configuration! Eccentric wheels were "invented" accidentally, but Steiff quickly realized the opportunity created by their roller drilling mistakes. Steiff's dogs, cats, birds, and farm animals look particularly charming on eccentric wheels, given the way they waddle and jiggle in real life! The photo on the left shows two of Bully's eccentric wheeled 10 cm "canine colleagues" from his same general timeframe. Bazi the Dachshund (on red wheels) was made in 10 and 14 cm from 1950 to 1961 overall and Cockie the Cocker Spaniel (on blue wheels) was made in 10 cm from 1954 through 1957 and then again in 1960.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this unusual Steiff Bully on wheels has been enjoyable to you, even in a roundabout sort of way.  

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

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Steiff in Bloom at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts

Spring has hit with full force here in New England, with new flower surprises appearing daily on front yards, in parks, and around other outdoor spaces. In the Boston area, The Museum of Fine Arts celebrates this time of year with its annual "Art in Bloom" event, which pairs collection highlights with floral arrangements designed to coordinate with the theme of the pieces. Steiffgal took Bitty Bub, a Steiff inspired tiny Teddy baby doll made by the talented artist Elizabeth Leggat, along with her to see "Art in Bloom" and to tour the museum. Of course Bub, known for his mischief, thought the show was called "Art With Bub." As such, he decided to "participate" in the exhibits, as only he can. Here are some of his favorite works - flower related and other - from his visit to the museum today. Can you find him in each of the photos that follow? You can click on them to make them bigger!

Being cut from the finest cloth himself, Bub found this floral arrangement inspired by an original Frank Lloyd Wright textile particularly appealing. 

Bub sez, "I'm tickled pink to be part of this fine gallery room display!"

Bub's just one of the guys when it comes to this perfect pairing of Max Beckmann's painting of Perry T. Rathbone with a tall, dark, and handsome floral arrangement.

Bub sez, "The flower artists really put the pedal to the metal in this colorful arrangement celebrating this great painting by Frida Kahlo." 

Size defies when it comes to these monumental blue and white Japanese vases that are featured in John Singer Sargent's "The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit," also shown in the photo. 

Bub is certain that this fine arts patron from Mary Cassatt's "In the Loge" only has eyes for him. 

Bub basks in the glow of this sterling portrait of silversmith and patriot Paul Revere, painted by John Singleton Copley in the 1768-70 timeframe. 

Bub sez, "There's plenty of extra room in that painting for me!" in regards to this 1796 portrait of President George Washington by Gilbert Stuart.

Bub sez, "It's five o'clock somewhere!" to toast this elegant and period sterling silver cocktail tray, martini shaker, and goblets interpreted in flowers. 

Honestly, did you know that Bub has White House connections? This small bronze statue was made from Daniel Chester French's original plaster cast of the seated Abraham Lincoln, which served as the scale model for the larger than life marble version at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

Drama... this marble statue called "Meg Merrilies" by Edward Thaxter tried to kidnap Bub!  Mischief attracts mischief for sure!

And finally, if this tour has tuckered you out, that's completely understandable. Here Bub sleepily eyes a c. 1800-30 English Regency bed detailed with two greyhound dogs! Its complementary floral arrangement does a great job in capturing its form in exotic greenery. 

Steiffgal - and Bitty Bub - hope this tour of Boston's MFA has helped to make your day even more beautiful!

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Calculating The Importance Of This Rare Steiff Walther Poodle

Do you know the saying, "April showers bring May flowers?" Well, if that's true, than the month of May is most certainly going to be "coming up roses," at least around these parts. It's been raining cats and dogs for the last few days, so Steiffgal has spent some time indoors checking out interesting Steiff eBay auction listings. You never know what you'll find listed on this worldwide marketplace! One Steiff rarity caught her eye and inspired her to learn more about it. Check out this prized poodle and see what makes it so outstanding from the design and manufacturing perspectives. 

This eye catching and unusual dog is a special promotional item made for Carl Walther GmbH. The poodle is head jointed and made from grey mohair and wool plush. His face is made from rubber, which was a popular Steiff manufacturing material starting in the early to mid 1950's  When the Walther poodle left the Steiff factory, he wore a blue "Walther" logo tag hanging off of its blue leather collar.  This customer special poodle design was produced in 17 cm and 40 cm in 1955 only.  This is the larger version; the smaller version used grey velvet in the place of grey mohair in its design.  

The Walther brand has deep and broad roots across Germany and the world.  The company, still in business today, is most associated with firearms production. Walther started out making guns at the end of the 19th century. It expanded its production to office machines, like calculators, starting in the 1920's. They continued their calculator line of business through the 1970's.  The poodle was the company's logo for the office division of the company, although its probably no coincidence that poodles are good hunting dogs, too! Walther's poodle came to life with a few black lines, and showed the dog running on his hind legs and effortlessly juggling numbers. The logo tried to demonstrate how easy dealing with numbers could be when you have a Walther machine on your desk. You can see this poodle logo here on the left.

Despite its obvious condition issues, this poodle listed on eBay is still a prince among Steiff's rare promotional items, and is only the second one Steiffgal has ever seen. It aligns to its period of manufacture in three interesting ways.  

First, poodles were a very big deal in Steiff's line in the early 1950's. In addition to the company's standard line selections, including Tosi and several iterations of Snobby, Steiff also created a number of exclusive poodle designs for FAO Schwarz here in the USA. These included fully jointed wool plush poodles and an 80 cm Snobbylac poodle. The Walther poodle has a French trim and most resembles the body shape of Steiff's 1952 wool plush Snobby. You can see the Steiff Walther poodle featured on the cover of one of their business machines catalogs here on the left. 

Second, Steiff started producing items with rubber heads, instead of traditional felt, velvet, or mohair heads, in the early 1950's.  This was done in part to decrease costs and labor, as well as to add flexibility to production and design options. Mostly dolls were produced with rubber heads; favorites from this period are HorZu's Micki and Mecki; the gnomes Pucki, Lucki, and Gucki; the Maggi chef, and LariFari, among others. Steiff's animals with rubber heads include Koko the Cat for the magazine TV Hoeren & Sehen.  

And third, the Walther poodle was manufactured at a critical juncture in the company's history. After many years of hardship and war-induced shortages, Steiff again had the infrastructure to partner with other world-class companies and to produce absolutely custom, top tier items without constraints. This all ushered in a very auspicious period in the company's history.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's Walther poodle has inspired a little puppy love with you!

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sending Hoppy Easter Greetings From Our Home To Yours!

Well, the big day is almost here - Easter! And Steiffgal is sending you her "official" greetings via a friend who is more than qualified to handle that public service responsibility. Please say hello to "The Mayor," a perfect ambassador to Spring's most anticipated holiday!

So just who is this impressive Easter-beaster?  The Mayor, a 60 cm boy rabbit doll, gets his name from his impressive size, serious expression, and business attire. His "birth" name, given by Steiff, is Hansili. He is standing on flat cardboard lined feet, head jointed, and primarily made from wool plush fabric. His core body and paw pads are made from a flesh-colored, lightly flocked fabric. The Mayor's face comes to life with oversized black and brown pupil eyes, a red hand embroidered nose and mouth, clear monofilament whiskers, and skillfully placed brown and tan airbrushed highlights. His ears are entirely wool plush, lined in wires, and are posable. His all-original outfit consists of blue felt shorts with red felt suspenders, a white polyester, collared, buttoned shirt, a red and white neckerchief, and a floral corsage. This big bunny retains his named chest tag as his Steiff ID. The Mayor was made in this size from 1951 through 1966; a matching 60 cm girl rabbit doll version was also produced at the same time. 

It's easy to see how The Mayor won his leadership role by a landslide vote. He has several noteworthy features that make him quite the man about town.

First is his size.  The Mayor, as far as Steiffgal can tell, is the largest standard line, dressed animal doll Steiff ever produced on a commercial scale.  A Steiff animal doll is different than a dressed Steiff animal; an animal doll has a special, distinctly humanly styled and proportioned body and a traditional Steiff animal head.  A dressed Steiff animal may be any animal in the Steiff line dressed by the company or dressed by a collector.  Steiff produced a fantastic series of animal dolls starting in the late 1920's.  Early versions are highly coveted among collectors. 

Second is his material. The Mayor is made from wool plush.  That in itself is not remarkable, but the timing is. This fabric is usually associated with Steiff's production before, and then for several years after, World War II.  It is often considered a substitute fabric for mohair, and is beloved for its distinctly old fashioned look. The Mayor could have been produced as late as 1966, especially given his shirt is made out of a relatively modern polyester material. It is possible that The Mayor is one of the last, if not the last, mid 20th century item to reflect design elements and materials associated with war-era production.  

The third is his condition.  Despite possibly being over a half century old, The Mayor has managed to keep himself in fine and youthful shape overall.  He hardly has a hare out of place!  His coloring, especially on his head and ears is vibrant, and his materials show a little playwear, but no losses or damages.  It is pretty amazing that he retains his original floral corsage and named chest tag.  These are two very ephemeral items that are lost to time more often than not.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on "The Mayor" helps to govern you towards a delightful Easter weekend!

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