Monday, May 14, 2018

Here's Looking At You, Kid!

Steiffgal's not trying to get your goat here, but she's betting you haven't seen this Steiff rarity before! All kid-ding aside, this young mountain-dwelling friend is not only darling, but has some wonderful period detailing on him. Check out this baby Chamois and see what makes him so delightful from the design and product development perspectives.

Here's looking at you, kid! This Chamois kid is 22 cm tall, unjointed, and made from light and dark tan woolen mohair. He is airbrushed with darker brown highlighting on his back. His claws are designated by black airbrushing. He has a sweet, stubby tail, curvy legs, and a non-working squeaker in his belly. His youthful and appealing face comes to life with brown and black glass pupil eyes, two embroidered black nostrils, a simple black embroidered mouth, and black airbrushing around his eyes. The insides of his pert ears are highlighted with a touch of pink airbrushing. He retains his short trailing "f" button and yellow ear tag as his Steiff IDs. This Chamois kid was produced in this size only from 1933 through 1943.

Steiff also made an adult Chamois, who looks quite similar to the "kid' - except for black fabric horns and a more "adult" expression - in 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1938 through 1943.

So what exactly is a Chamois? These somewhat hybrid goat-antelopes are native to the mountains of Europe, although they can also be found in New Zealand - which also known for its altitudes! Several species of Chamois are protected by law in order to preserve their populations and well being. Fully grown males are usually around 30 inches tall and can weigh in the 66–132 pound range. As usually found in nature, the males are a little larger than females. Interestingly, both adult males and females have horns. According to Wiki, "Distinct characteristics are white contrasting marks on the sides of the head with pronounced black stripes below the eyes, a white rump and a black stripe along the back." The Steiff Chamois under discussion today indeed sports these breed-specific features.

This young Chamois certainly hides his age well! He has two key features that really reflect the time in which he was produced - just at the start of World War II.

The first is his material. He is made from woolen mohair, not Steiff's traditional mohair plush. You often see items in the Steiff line made from woolen mohair, wool plush, short pile plush, or artificial silk plush from the early to mid-1930's onward. Steiff used these substitute materials from the early 1930's through the very early 1950's when regular mohair plush was in short supply as it was being allocated for military purposes. Chamois' woolen mohair texture is a bit more coarse and flat due to its short nap and fabric properties. 

The second is his construction. He has delightful "color patching" seam work. That means that the different colors that are used to bring him to life are actually made from distinctive fabrics - not one fabric that has been painted or airbrushed to show contrast. This is especially noticeable on the deep "V" shapes on his neck and forehead. This multi-fabric detailing is expensive in terms of time and labor to do. One way to approximately date Steiff animals is to look for this old fashioned "patched color" construction. Earlier items have it, while most items dating from the mid-1950's rely on airbrushing for color differentiation.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this high-altitude early Chamois kid has left you breathless!

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