Saturday, July 29, 2017

This Unusual and Early Steiff Doll is Cut From a Different Cloth

For Steiffgal, the best week of the year is almost upon us. That is because she's off to Orlando, FL to attend the United Federation of Doll Clubs annual national gathering in just a few days. This world-class event celebrates dolls and playthings from every era, is a fantastic opportunity to meet new collector friends and visit with old ones, learn about everything A to Z about dolls, and of course, pick up a few new collection treasures! If you are not a member of UFDC, public day will be held on Friday, August 4th; if you are a member and are attending, Steiffgal hopes to meet you there!

To honor the celebration of all things dolls, Steiffgal would like to introduce you to a very interesting Steiff little child who recently jointed her hug.

This sweet boy is everything snips and snails and puppy dog tails. Please say hello to Rudi (at least that's what his name is now). Rudi is 35 cm, fully jointed, and truly looks like a sweet schoolboy. His face comes to life with striking blue and black glass pupil eyes, a little nose, pouty mouth, and a brown inset mohair wig. His mohair hair has faded to silvery blond over time, but the brown cotton backing has remained quite dark. Collectors see this sometimes with brown mohair bears which fade over time and have a distinctly "silvery" look to them.


Rudi is dressed to the nines. His clothing is all original to him, and consists of a white cotton shirt with a drawstring neckline, black and blue cotton onesie, blue cotton shirt, and a tan linen apron. The clothing is beautifully made, with fine tiny stitches and hooks and snaps. His shoes are made from black felt, and his blue and white stripe socks tie his entire outfit together handsomely. It is Steiffgal's best guess that he started out life as Steiff's "Erich" - who was made in 28, 35, 43, and 50 cm from 1912 to 1927.

Of course, it is never polite to ask someone their age. But the time frame 1912 to 1927 is pretty broad. Rudi is pretty private, but a few of his secrets are very helpful in better determining his "birthday." When Steiffgal purchased Rudi, she adopted him purely for his charming presentation and size. Like all new collection acquisitions, Rudi was given a close inspection. It turns out he has a pretty remarkable body composition which is not obvious from just pictures. For the most part, Steiff's felt center seamed dolls are truly that - made of felt from head to toe. But, occasionally collectors find Steiff dolls made from alternative materials, and those are generally datable to "hard times."

Rudi is cut from a different cloth - literally. His face and well formed fingered hands are made from felt, his shapely limbs are made from fine flesh colored linen, and his simple core body trunk is made from poor quality linen that has a blue or grey tint to it. Steiff detailed this little boy with the best fabrics they had on hand at the time of his production - keeping the most visible parts of his body as aesthetically pleasing as possible. His construction, along with his teeny tiny trailing "F" button, suggest that he was produced at a particularly challenging time during or just after WWI, when the company's access to higher quality fabrics, including felt, was severely sanctioned. As such, Steiffgal suspects he was made around 1915 or 1916. 

So does any of this make any material difference? Yes, fabrics are one way to get an idea of approximate production when it comes to Steiff's early doll production. Steiffgal has a number of other Steiff cloth dolls in her collection from the first quarter of the 20th century; most are all felt, one has a felt face and limbs and a linen body. The all felt ones were made in "good times" (or relatively good times) while those with linen bodies and/or limbs suggest otherwise. Steiffgal also has seen a Steiff cloth Puck Gnome made with a linen face, and suspects he is an extreme "wartime production" example. He is pictured here on the left, the photo is from Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH.  Puck appeared in the Steiff line in 20, 30, and 40 cm from 1914 to 1943 and is one of the company's most charming prewar doll designs (in Steiffgal's humble opinion.)

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the company's early cloth dolls can be woven into the fabric of your life!


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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Steiff's Tiniest Teddies Are A Big Deal Indeed!

It's funny with Steiff - in many cases, the smaller an item is, the more appeal it seems to have!  Almost every collector would have to agree that this is especially true when it comes to the company's smallest Teddy bears.  These teeny-tiny treasures are like potato chips (or fill in your most favorite goodie here) and you can't have just one - or two - or three!  Steiffgal particularly loves Steiff's 10 cm and smaller bears, as they take up very little space to display, look great posed with other Steiff animals and dolls, and usually have very distinctive - and endearing - expressions.  Here are a few uber-favorite petite treats from her collection and the stories behind them.

Face it, you can't resist this adorable cub either!  This little fellow is called Brimfield, because he was purchased at the Brimfield Antique Fair in Brimfield, MA a few years ago.  He is 10 cm, fully jointed, and made from white mohair.  His nose and mouth are hand embroidered in brown, and his eyes are tiny black buttons.  He does not have any IDs, but is suspected to have a birth date in the 1960's due to his chunkier proportions.   His face truly is as presented - a little crooked - or perhaps a little pensive, depending on what's on his mind.  

Brimfield's pachyderm pal is also made by Steiff.  He is an almost flat, printed blue elephant made out of velour.  He is identical on both sides, and wears a great red headdress and matching blanket.  He measures only 5 cm long and 4 cm tall and has his original Steiff tag, but no button.  This elephant started out life with two other siblings as Steiff's Elephant Pram Toy, a hanging plaything for a baby's stroller or crib.  Steiff's Elephant Pram Toy was made from 1982 through 1985; the company also made a similar themed toy made from printed ducks in the same time frame.

You don't need a Mensa IQ to recognize this next fine fellow as pure genius! Here we have Smarty Pants, named for his big, big head. Steiffgal purchased SP at auction; he was one of several fine treasures in the lot. SP is 10 cm, fully jointed, and made from gold colored mohair. His nose and mouth are hand embroidered in black, and his eyes are tiny black buttons. He has all of his IDs, including his red imprinted chest tag, raised script button, and early and fully legible ear tag reading 5310, dating him to the very early 1950's. He is sort of perfect in every quirky way.

SP likes to horse around with a little wooden rocking pony from F.A.O. Schwarz. The toy itself is beautifully detailed and finished with high gloss paints and stains. It measures about 7 cm long and 7 cm tall. One side reads "100 yrs in Toys 1862-1962" and the other side has the famous F.A.O. Schwarz bell logo printed in gold. The bottom has the word "Germany" printed in black letters. This piece was produced for the toy retailer in honor of the company's centennial, and probably sold through F.A.O.'s world-famous dollhouse department.  

Oh baby! Collectors everywhere will recognize this pouty pal as an early Steiff Teddy Baby. Steiffgal purchased him many years ago on eBay for a song. This Ted is 9 cm tall and fully jointed. His feet and muzzle are made from blond velvet and his body, limbs, and head are made from blond mohair. He has a black hand stitched nose and mouth, and tiny black and brown glass pupil eyes. He retains bits and pieces of his red ear tag and his long trailing "F" style button - dating him in the late 1920's or early 1930's. He has a distinctly old fashioned look to him; he does more closely resemble an older gentleman than a baby.

Bird's the word with Teddy Baby's fine feathered friend. This bitty bird is Steiff's 4 cm woolen miniature Finch bird. He is made from red, black, white, brown, and black Nomotta wool. His beak is made from grey felt and his tail feathers are made from brown felt. He stands upon two darling, bronze colored metal legs and feet.  Finch retains his ankle bracelet style button and tag. This pattern was produced prewar in 4 and 8 cm from 1933 to 1943 overall. This particular Finch was made from 1937 through 1943.

Now its time to hold everything and check out these two adorable pre-war brothers. Isn't it nice how well they play together? Both are 10 cm, fully jointed, and have black bead eyes. The one on the left, Honey Baby, is made from a dark gold colored mohair and has a black nose and mouth. Pip, on the right, is made from white mohair and has a brown nose and mouth. Both were purchased at auctions, several years apart. Honey Baby and Pip retain their long trailing "F" buttons as their Steiff ID. Given their general appearance and proportions, Honey Baby is probably from the 1920's or early 1930's; Pip may date from the 19-teens onward.  

Despite their age difference, these two cubs always seem to have a ball between the two of them! Their bitty ball is made by Steiff and was purchased in the Steiff Sommer sales tent in Giengen a few years ago. It is made from tan and brown mohair and measures all of 2.5 cm in diameter. It was probably manufactured in the last 5 to 10 years as an accessory for another modern Steiff edition. 

Our last miniature highlight never leaves home without a hair out of place. That's because she doesn't have even one left on her supermodel skinny body! Here we have the totally bald yet totally terrific Mouse. Steiffgal adopted Mouse from an estate maybe a decade ago. She is 9 cm tall and fully jointed. She probably was made from white mohair, given her brown hand embroidered nose and mouth. She has particularly petite proportions, as well as the general appearance of Steiff's earliest Teds. Given her long trailing "F" button, she could date as early as 1912.  

If you think Mouse is "minnie," please consider her constant cat companion, Donna. This pretty kitty is only 2.5 cm tall and is made from printed cotton fabric.  Her tiny body is stuffed with cotton, and she wears a perfectly to scale blue ribbon and gold heart pendant. Although Donna was not made by Steiff, she has all the quality and integrity of a Steiff creation. Donna was given to Steiffgal by a good friend who specializes in making historically accurate miniature dollhouse furniture and accessories. 

Steiffgal hopes this miniature bear discussion has warmed your heart in a gigantic way.

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Cattle Battle Is On With Steiff's Fantastic Vintage Oxen

Ok, it's time to get to work! But don't worry, this task is a labor of love. Let's take a look at an interesting Steiff pattern that really pulls its weight when it comes to its interesting design and history. Without further ado, please say hello to Steiff's Oxy Oxen!

The cattle-battle is on with this truly novel Steiff collectible. Oxy is standing and unjointed. His body is made mostly from tan mohair with great brown airbrush highlights and stripes on his back, legs, and face. His horns, very prominent nose, and dewlap are made from tan velvet. His face comes to life with pert mohair ears and black and white style google eyes. This pattern was made in 10, 14, and 22 cm from 1953-1957. The smallest version has a cord tail, the medium version has a velvet tail tipped in mohair, and the largest version has a mohair tail tipped in mohair. The largest version also has a long mohair forehead area. This Oxy pattern is quite endearing - and also quite interesting, given his mix of fabrics and whimsical presentation.

Oxen are traditional laboring animals, and are usually castrated adult male cattle. However, sometimes females and intact males are given jobs to do as well. Research suggests that oxen were first harnessed and put to work around 4000 BC. Oxen are a legacy pattern for Steiff. They first appeared in the line in 1897 made from spotted white felt and on wheels. The following year they debuted freestanding in 12, 14, 17, and 22 cm. By 1903 they were also being produced in velvet. Although Steiff started significantly integrating mohair materials into their product design and development around 1903, it was not until 1909 that the company produced their first mohair ox. This pattern was made from patched tan and reddish brown mohair and appeared on wheels; it was produced overall in 14, 17, 22, 28, 35, 43, 50, 60, and 80 cm through 1943. An example of Steiff's mohair ox on wheels from the 1920's is shown here on the left; it was sold in 2015 at James D. Julia for $830. Steiff's freestanding mohair ox appeared in 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1929 through 1943 overall.

But there's even more to this cattle call. You cannot help but notice that Steiff's postwar Oxy pattern has a number of design and material similarities with another, and even rarer, special edition. This is the company's Texas Longhorn, which was produced as an exclusive for the upscale US toy retailer F.A.O. Schwarz. This treasure, made in 1960 only, is considered by many enthusiasts to be one of the most collectible Steiff and F.A.O. Schwarz collaborations of all times.

Steiff's Texas Longhorns usually causes a stampede when one appears on the secondary market. This big boy is 25 cm, standing, unjointed, and made from mohair. His detailing is quite distinctive and includes a velvet dewlap extending from his neck to his lower chest, googly black-and-white eyes, and an open, peach felt lined mouth. Only a handful of Texas Longhorns were made. Some had prominent faux leather horns, while others had rubber horns. These rubber horns are similar to those seen on the company's Yuku Pronghorn Antelope, which appeared in the line 22 and 35 cm from 1962 to 1963.   

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's Oxy has not been heavy lifting for you.

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

Friday, July 7, 2017

It's A Dream Come True With This Amazing And Adorable Steiff Pajama Bag

Hold everything! Well, that's exactly what this rarity was designed to do.  Check out this Steiff pajama bag designed after one of the company's most beloved dog patterns of the time. Steiffgal is certain you'll be experiencing puppy love at first sight!

This darling doggie has a great bedside manner. She is 60 cm (measured from the tip of her nose to her toes) long, lying, unjointed, and made from black and white mohair. Her head and the tips of each of her paws are softly stuffed. She has dramatic and floppy ears made from extra long mohair. Her back paw pads are made from short white mohair that has been stenciled with puppy-footprints on them. Her face comes to life with black and brown glass pupil eyes backed in white felt; a black, hand-embroidered nose; floppy jowls; and an open, pink velvet lined mouth. Her pert tail is surrounded by a black mohair patch. Her belly is soft and unstuffed, and hollow like a bag. It is lined is teal blue silk, and closes with a 28 cm metal zipper. She retains original red silk ribbon and her illegible yellow ear tag and raised script button as her IDs. 

This functional friends refuses to unzip the answers to a few mysteries about her. A very similar item, called Zipper Cockie, appears in Pfeiffer's Sortiment book and a pristine, like new example was sold by Teddy Dorado as part of that company's summer auction in 2014. That auction highlight is pictured here on the left and the photo is from Teddy Dorado. The article number on the Teddy Dorado version is identical to that listed in the Sortiment book - 0330,06 - and has relatively aligning measurements. The zipper on those examples is at the crotch of the animal, and the bag appears to be lined in simple cotton fabric. This standard line Zipper Cockie pajama bag was produced in 30 cm in 1964 only. Steiffgal's version has its zipper down the belly of the dog, and the lining bag is made from silk. Steiffgal's version is also proportionally larger overall than the Teddy Dorado and Sortiment examples, and has a much more detailed mouth structure.

So just who is this kooky Cockie? Clearly, her pattern is designed after Steiff's beloved black and white Cockie Cocker Spaniel. Black and white Cockie was produced lying, standing, a music box, a tail-turns-head version, and as a display piece in the 1955 - 1976 overall timeframe. A 12 cm black and white Cockie from 1960 - 1976 is pictured here on the left. 

Now let's try and figure out the origins of this mysterious mutt. Steiffgal adopted this larger Cockie pajama bag from its original owner, who received it as a special gift from F.A.O. Schwarz as a child. In the 1950's through 1970's, Steiff often made "over the top" exclusives for F.A.O. Schwarz based on standard line designs - for example, a series of Dalmatians based on the Dally design, a grey alpaca Poodle based on the Snobby design, and a standing, open mouthed Beagle based on the Biggie design. Steiff produced another fantastic pajama bag as an exclusive for F.A.O. Schwarz from 1962 - 1972, a walrus which also has a zipper down its belly and a silk lined interior. All of this converges on the probability that this elaborately constructed Cocker Spaniel pajama bag may indeed have been produced in a very small edition size for F.A.O. Schwarz in the early to mid-1960's, and perhaps is undocumented. But only she knows for sure - and she's too busy counting sheep right now to talk.

Steiffgal hopes this pajama bag discussion has given you a good case of bed-head!

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Three Cheers For Steiff's Red, White, And Blue Teddy Bears!

Happy July 4th to friends and fellow collectors in the United States. Steiffgal hopes your holiday is full of colorful fireworks, yummy cookouts, fun gatherings, and of course, beers - or in this case, bears! To celebrate this beloved and much anticipated day of tradition, Steiffgal thought it might be fun to check out the story behind three "patriotic" Teds from her hug - a red one, a white one, and a (sort of) blue one. So without further ado, please meet Pocket Alphonso, George, and Penelope.


Size defies when it comes to Pocket Alfonzo, our "red" representative. He is 15 cm tall, fully jointed, and made from bright red mohair backed in apricot colored fabric. His paw pads are tan felt, and he has a black hand embroidered nose, mouth, and claws. His face comes to life with black button eyes and a prominent, trimmed muzzle. His head and limbs are softly stuffed with polyfill while his belly is stuffed with metal pellets, giving him a hefty, robust feeling when you hold him. Like the original and legendary Alfonzo, he wears a white trimmed, light orange Cossack outfit. This happy handful was made in 2008 in an edition size of 1908 for Teddy Bears of Whitney in the UK.

It's always party time when Pocket Alfonzo appears - really! A dear friend  - you know who you are - gave Steiffgal this petite treat as a birthday present a few years ago. Steiffgal and pal met up in New York City for a trade event that happened to be at the same time as her special day. The bear came wrapped up in a spectacularly dolled-up box, complete with colorful tissue and a bow large enough to decorate the roof of a car! Apparently the giver took the bear to a special store famous for its over the top wrapping. Boy, was it noticed AND so appreciated. Steiffgal will never forget this gift or its breathtaking presentation.  

By George, Steiffgal is certain you will enjoy this next introduction. Now please say hello to this early white Teddy baby, who just happens to be named George - but more on that later. He is 43 cm tall, fully jointed, and made from long, white mohair which has mellowed to a vanilla color over time. His muzzle and feet-tops are made from white mohair, which has also darkened a touch. Typical to his pattern, George has an open, felt lined mouth; flat, cardboard lined feet designed for standing; downturned paws; and a distinctly, childlike appearance. His irresistible face comes to life with oversized brown and black pupil eyes and a brown, hand embroidered nose and mouth. George retains his large trailing "F" button and traces of his red ear tag, dating his production to the c.1929-35 time frame.

George has a capital history. Steiffgal purchased George in the saleroom associated with the 2016 United Federation of Doll Clubs national event in Washington, DC. She adopted him from her friend and colleague John Port, an expert dealer in antique bears and toys. George was sitting in John's booth with a few other bear buddies. George's fantastic size, charming expression, and wonderful, vintage condition literally called to Steiffgal across the pavilion floor like a siren song - but in the best way possible. Visiting John's well stocked booth at the UFDC event is one of Steiffgal's favorite shopping experiences of the year, and she looks forward to seeing what goodies he has on offer at the upcoming 2017 event in Orlando. And yes, George is named after George Washington, in a nod to his presidential status among Teddy babies, as well as the location where Steiffgal adopted him. 

This final colorful cub just might turn your brown eyes blue! Here we have Penelope, a 25 cm tall Teddy baby doll and our blue representative today. She is standing and head jointed. Her arms fall loosely at her sides, and her legs are solid and rigid. Her body is made from a flesh colored velvet like material. Her head, hands, and the tops of her feet are made from brown mohair. Her feet are flat and lined in cardboard allowing her to stand; the bottoms are made from tan linen. Penelope's head is in the typical Teddy baby style with a tan inset muzzle; an open, felt lined mouth; and oversized brown and black glass pupil eyes. She retains her raised script button-in-ear and traces of her US Zone tag sewn into the seam of her leg. Penelope was probably born in the c. 1950-52 time frame, given her configuration of IDs and materials. 

This blue-belle did not start out life this way. Like George, Steiffgal found Penelope in the showroom of the 2016 UFDC national event in Washington, DC.  However, Penelope was partially hiding, upside down, and in the bottom of a pile of vintage toys in another sales booth. Steiffgal saw her two legs sticking up in the air from across the aisle, and went over to investigate. And there she was! However, she was wearing a poorly fitting and unflattering, unoriginal outfit that did nothing to bring out her natural beauty and playfulness. Never judge a book by its cover! Steiffgal immediately adopted Penelope, and then went on a mission to find her the perfect outfit. Luckily, there were several dealers specializing in vintage doll clothes also in the showroom. Steiffgal located a few options for Penelope, but quickly realized a combination of dark blue velvet pants, a light blue Peter Pan collar shirt, and a blue and white striped apron suited her to a T.  Don't you agree?

Steiffgal hopes this red, white, and blue bear discussion has put you in colorful - and festive - state of mind. Happy birthday, America!

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