Saturday, September 28, 2019

Double Doggie Delights at Auction This Week!

Some things simply stand on their own merits... like Steiff's fantastic prewar animal dolls. These sweet treats - with simple, humanized bodies and animal heads representing the most popular Steiff pets of the 1930s and 1940s - are breathtaking in their beauty and rarity. Within the past few days, two remarkable canine examples came up for auction in Germany. Both really caught Steiffgal's eye. Here's a bit more about this duo of delightful doggies.

There's no question the first one will really whet your appetite. He is lot #15 from Auktionshaus Eppli's Art, Antiques, Asiatica, Jewelry & more... sale held on September 27, 2019. He is cataloged as: 

"STEIFF "Chow doll", 1939-1940. Standing dog doll, button with shortened 2nd "f", remains of yellow tag, plush head and paws, clothing of brown wool plush, belt missing, right foot damaged, signs of use. H: 30 cm."

This doll had a starting bid of €150 and realized €3,600 or $3938.77. 

This extraordinary example was made in this size only from 1939-1940 as noted. He has a simple, head jointed fabric body, feet and hands made from mohair, and a realistically constructed mohair head. He wears a brown collared, long sleeved woolen top and matching pants. They are both removable. The top had a thin brown string belt when he left the factory in Giengen eight decades ago; it is not uncommon to lose accessories like this to playwear and time. Steiffgal has never handled one of these in person and has only read about them in reference books. 

Although he is named Pupp Chow or Chow Doll, Steiffgal thinks his coloring and detailing is more like the company's Wolfspitz dogs than the company's Chow Chow dogs. The Wolfspitz dogs, made from long tawny colored mohair, appeared in the line standing, sitting, and on wheels from 1934-1943 overall. The Chow Chow dogs, made in light brown, dark brown, and white mohair, appeared in the line sitting, standing, and on wheels from 1928-1932 overall. So the Chow Chows were not even in the line at the time of his introduction in the late 1930s. It is possible that "Chow Doll" sounded a lot better than "Wolfspitz Doll", and in reality Chow dogs and Spitz dogs are very closely related genetically.   

Now let's shepherd in an introduction to today's second dog doll auction highlight. He is lot #3037 from the Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH Antique Toy Auction - Spielzeugauktion held on September 28, 2019. He is cataloged as:

"Pupp Arco, head mohair-plush, standing, with button and cloth tag label, number 22 (22 cm), 1937-1939, felt underwear good, cotton shirt, 2 spots, all in all good condition."

This doll was estimated estimated at €650 - €1,300 and realized €2,562 or $2803.09.

This irresistible rarity is clearly based on the company's beloved "Police Dog" Arco the German Shepherd dog. He is dressed in a simplified, traditional farmer's outfit. This consists of an oversized, puffy blue cotton shirt and black felt shorts. He has the identical, generic body construction as noted on the Chow doll, with the same mohair detailing on his feet and hands. His head is based on the one used on Steiff's mohair Arco German Shepherds from the mid-1930s onward. This happy, open mouthed, smiling dog was made sitting, standing, and on wheels from 1935-1943. Pupp Arco was made in 22 and 28 cm from 1937-1940 overall.

The appearance of a farmer's outfit on a police dog model is unexpected, but all original in this case. These animal dolls, for the most part, were dressed in "everyday" work or play or regional/ethnic costumes. Arco is the only animal doll that Steiffgal knows of dressed as a farmer. Although Steiffgal does not have any more factual information on this puzzle, she suspects it might have more to do with economics than anything else. The Arco head is majestic and highly detailed, with an open mouth and large, prominent, felt lined ears. It appears to be among the most labor intensive relative to the other animals represented in this doll line. Perhaps this simple, plain outfit was used to save on the overall time and effort invented in bringing this doll to life? Whatever the reason, Pupp Arco is simply dashing!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the company's rare dressed dog dolls has been a clothes call for you.

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

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