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.

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