Saturday, October 14, 2017

Things Are Spot on With This Delightful Pre-War Steiff Giraffe!


Steiffgal's gonna stick her neck out here and say that you will undoubtedly develop a plush-crush on this week's blog friend. She bought him based on a photo from a sale in Europe, as something about him really called to her. As a fellow collector, she is certain you know that feeling all too well! So how about following a tall order and checking him out?

Things are spot on with this delightful pre-war Steiff giraffe. He is 35 cm tall, unjointed, and made from light orange wool plush. He is hand spotted with darker orange spots. His mane is made from short light orange mohair, while the tip of his tail is made from longer orange mohair. His face comes to life with two pert horns, black button eyes, a painted orange mouth, and ears lined in peach colored felt. This pattern was made in 28 and 35 cm from 1936 through 1943.  

Despite his simple and charming appearance, this delightful example is actually outstanding in two ways. 


First, material matters. Giraffes are a legacy pattern for Steiff. Giraffes were featured in the company's debut 1892 catalog. Wheeled and simple standing ones were available in sizes ranging from 17 cm to 65 cm overall through 1909. This pattern was updated in 1909 and produced in an even greater spectrum of sizes - from 28 to 260 cm through 1942 overall. The larger sizes were designed for riding and were constructed with a stabilizing internal metal frame and detailed with steering and leather saddles. Except for a lone 110 cm example made in 1933, all of these gorgeous giraffes were made of felt.  Given the elegant lines of these animals, as well as their need for precise spot detailing, this makes perfect sense from the manufacturing, economic, and design perspectives. 

So then, what's the big deal with this little guy? This giraffe under discussion today is really the first non-felt version produced as a standard line item for any length of time. And its fabric - wool plush - aligns perfectly with its period of manufacture. Its detailing materials - felt on the ears, and mohair on the mane and tail tip - are used as minimally as possible, yet really add to the giraffe's appeal and sense of quality. Felt and mohair were beginning to become less and less available for toymaking in the mid-1930's due to geo-political reasons. As such, Steiff was very careful with the limited quantities of these upscale fabrics they had available to them. Here on the left is the catalog entry for this giraffe in Steiff's Hauptkatalog (main catalog) dated D 1938/39.

Giraffe's second fantastic feature is a heavy-metal favorite. His "knopf" is the most unusual BRASS colored Steiff button. It is the short trailing "f" style and 6 mm in diameter. This button appeared on some Steiff items from 1933/34 through 1943. This are pretty uncommon; this is only the second item in Steiffgal's collection of vintage Steiff treasures bearing this distinctive trademark. Most of the time, for items produced in the mid 1930's through early 1940's time frame, Steiff used a silver colored short trailing "f" button.  You can see this brass button, with traces of the yellow ear tag, here on the left. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this delightful tall drink of water has whetted your appetite for Steiff's late pre-war wool plush rarities. 

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

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