Saturday, September 23, 2017

Picturing A Perfect Steiff Arrival

It goes without saying that Steiff is first class in every way.  That includes the company's remarkable and very lifelike displays from the first quarter of the 20th century.  Check out this beautifully preserved black and white postcard from 1912. (You can click on it to make it larger.) It pictures a wonderful vignette of society travelers on the go.  Do you recognize a few familiar faces in it?

This pretty as a picture postcard above shows travelers emerging from a coach. The bottom text translates roughly to: "Artistic Toy Hall 1", "Arrival of the post coach" and "designed by Albert Scholpsnies." The back of the card is imprinted with a few words which translate roughly to "Bavarian Business 1912 in Munich Official Postcard." This piece of ephemera is probably from a trade fair held in 1912 in Munich; it is not clear whether Steiff participated as an attendee at the show or just provided this breathtaking and impressive display which graced the entrance to the toy section of this event. The presentation was credited to Albert Scholpsnies, a very creative and innovative designer who worked at Steiff as a freelancer on and off through the late 1920's. He specialized in product development and design; large fair, window, and event displays; and novel graphic design.

Size defies with this impressive display. In order to try and identify the items in the shot, it is important to figure out the actual scale of the display.  Starting in 1912, Steiff created a series of "upscale" adult dolls that were particularly well dressed and accessorized.  These were only produced in 50 cm.  It is Steiffgal's best guess that the both the man and woman emerging from the coach are these dolls, and are indeed 50 cm tall.  So this overall display is quite large!  Given that assumption is true, here are the items featured in this presentation.

Horses:  
These are most likely a 50 cm version of the company's Horse or Circus Horse design. These lifelike and elegant patterns appeared in the line from around 1911 through 1934 in sizes ranging from 50 to 100 cm. They were made in felt or mohair and produced with or without wheels. Their colors included white, brown and white, all brown, and other combinations. All were detailed with an open mouth, perfectly to scale saddles and headwear, and mohair manes and tails. (The photo on the left shows one version of Steiff's original Circus Horse, it is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.)


The horse's attendant: 
Given his scale, distinctive footwear, and cutaway style coat,  it is possible that this attendant is based on the company's 43 cm "Green" doll pattern. This finely tailored doll was produced as part of the company's amazingly detailed and comprehensive "Circus" series which launched around 1911. Green appeared in the line from 1911 through 1919. (The photo on the left shows Steiff's original Green, it is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.)
The lady:  
Given her long and flowing dress and big bonnet, the lady is most likely a custom-dressed version of one of the the company's 50 cm "society women." These included Beatrice, Betty, Sidonie, and Fanny. These dolls all were gorgeously dressed, with long, implanted hair, and eye-catching hats. Unlike the lady featured in the display, Beatrice, Betty, Sidonie, and Fanny all wore more "form fitting," not flowy, outfits. Steiff's society ladies appeared in the line from 1912 through 1919 overall. (The photo on the left shows Steiff's original Fanny, it is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.)


The gentleman helping the lady out of the coach: 
Given his dramatic coat and large hat, the gentleman is most likely a custom-dressed version of one of the the company's 50 cm "society men." These included Eduard, Ferdinand, Manfred, and Gustav. Like the society ladies, these men dolls donned tailor-made outfits sewn from the finest fabrics and wore felt hats.  Some even carried walking sticks! However, unlike the gentleman featured in the display, Eduard, Ferdinand, Manfred, and Gustav wore more traditional outerwear. These marvelous men appeared in the line from 1912 through 1917 overall. (The photo on the left shows Steiff's original Manfred, it is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.) 

The coach driver:  
Given his scale, big black boots, and top hat decorated with a large plume, it is possible that the coach driver is a based on the company's 43 cm "Circus Director" doll. Like "Green," this formally dressed doll was produced as part of the company's legendary "Circus" series. The Circus Director appeared in the line form 1911 through 1912. (The photo on the left shows Steiff's original Circus Director, it is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.) 
Attendant on the ladder:  
Given his scale, cap design, and big beard, it is possible that this attendant is based in part on the company's 35 cm "Matrose" sailor doll. This wonderful pattern is one of the company's earliest, launching in 1904 and appearing through 1918. (The photo on the left shows Steiff's Matrose, it is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.) 
Attendant to the left of the gentleman: 
Given his scale, great footwear, formal coat, and color (Steiffgal believes he may be African American), it is possible that this attendant is a based on the company's 35 cm "Negro Footman." This incredibly rare design, amongst the company's early efforts to capture different nationalities, appeared in 1913 only. (The photo on the left shows Steiff's Negro Footman, it is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.) 


Attendant to the right of the gentleman: Given his scale, white apron, hat, scale, and "workers" outfit, it is possible that this attendant is a based on the company's 35 cm "Host" doll. This was one of the company's "craftsman" dolls, produced in 35 and 50 cm from 1912-1920 overall. The series also included a stone cutter, tailor, butcher, and shoe maker; all had facial hair and were dressed in lose fitting, "everyday" clothes.  (The photo on the left shows Steiff's Host, it is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.) 
Rolling along, it is also interesting to note that Steiff also used the general theme of this coach display in other advertising. Here above you can see a simplified version of this grand coach arrival which was used for print promotion. (You can click on it to make it larger.) This advertisement appeared on May 23, 1912 in a weekly German illustrated news magazine called Illustrirte Zeitung. The photo is from D. Ayers & D. Harrison's Advertising Art of Steiff, Teddy Bears & Playthings. 

Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed this time-traveling adventure based on Steiff's early and original transportation-themed displays. 

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1 comment:

  1. Steiffgal, this is a great article I did not know about the dolls, so cool.

    ReplyDelete

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