Sunday, January 12, 2020

This Antique Steiff Doll Is Just A Kid At Heart!

Oh boy! Literally! That was Steiffgal's reaction when she laid eyes on this charming character. Check out this extremely early Steiff doll and see why he's alot more than snips and snails and puppy dog tails.

It's hard to outfox this turn of last century "Foxy Boy." He is 28 cm and arm and leg jointed. He has a felt, center seamed face and felt hands. His feet are very large in proportion to his body. His hands are early and primitive, like fists, with embroidered digits. His body is primarily made from velvet. His simple, integral outfit consists of a green velvet shirt and black socks, red felt pants and tan laced shoes, and a leather buckled belt. He comes to life with an inset blond wig, black shoe button eyes, and painted facial features. This is one of Steiff's earliest doll designs. He appeared in the line from c. 1904 through 1924; given his details, Steiffgal suspects he's from around 1909 or so. The earliest "Foxy Boy" dolls produced were string jointed and had elephant buttons as part of their branding. Unfortunately, this example's IDs have been lost to time.

Foxy Boy is one of the characters from the turn of last century American cartoon series “Foxy Grandpa.” The strip was introduced in 1900 and penned by Carl E. Schultze. It ran through the 1930's. The strip told of the adventures, and misadventures, of a grandfather and his two grandsons. The strip was wildly popular with readers throughout its run.

In the early 20th century, Steiff took much inspiration for its doll line through popular cartoon strips, as the characters and their presentations translated so well into the Steiff aesthetic of the times. This look included exaggerated facial features, big feet, and very fat or very thin torsos. In addition to the Foxy Grandpa crew, beloved Steiff cartoon character dolls from the early 1900s included Happy, Alphonse, and Gaston from Happy Hooligans and Mama (often produced as a tea cosy) and the Fat Captain from the Katzenjammer Kids. 

Age was just a number when it came to Steiff's interest in the Foxy Grandpa cartoon strip. Steiff produced the "star" of Foxy Grandpa, the actual Grandpa, from 1904 through 1915, and the the two grandchildren as dolls in the overall 1904 through 1924 time frame. Here above you can see the catalog page for Foxy Boy in 1913; you can click on it to make it bigger. According to listing, Foxy Boy weighed .10 kg, his item number was Bu28, and he cost $0.85, which is equivalent to $22.10 in 2020. It is interesting to note that "Foxy Boy" was offered as an “aviator doll” in the French catalog, probably because the French were not familiar with him in the context of the American comic strip.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's Foxy Boy has been a blast from the past for you.

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