Friday, May 24, 2024

This Steiff Teddy Bear From 1964 Is One Merry Mash-Up!

Talk about hiding in plain sight! Steiffgal was checking out the latest listings on eBay to see if she could find a hidden treasure. And lo and behold, the shopping gods aligned and this rarity appeared out of nowhere! He doesn't look like much - and could be easy to miss. Check out this merry mash-up of a bear and see what makes him so distinctive from the design and marketing perspectives. 


Cosy Teddy is 28 cm, unjointed, and softly stuffed. His body shape and proportions are a bit like the company's childlike Lully baby bear. Cozy Teddy is made from white dralon. His paw pads are made from pinky-peach colored dralon. He has four brown dimensional felt claws on each of his paws. His face comes to life with smaller scaled black and white cartoon eyes and a hand embroidered brown nose and mouth. This pattern of facial stitching is similar to that seen on the company's postwar Original Teddy bears. He also has a little airbrushing around his peepers to give them some depth. When he left the factory, Cosy Teddy was decorated with a blue ribbon. This guy was produced in this size only in 1964. He retains his raised script button and bits of his yellow tag as his IDs. Given his washable construction, size, and simplicity, it is quite possible he was designed a hands on plaything for kids. 


This bear has two key design elements that make him quite distinctive. First, he has wool felt claws, which is most unusual in the Steiff line. A few other bears from his mid-1960s era, including Zooby the zoo bear, Cosy Nauty the polar bear, and Zipper Nauty the PJ bag, also have this detailing... but the vast majority of Steiff's cubs from all eras have embroidered or painted claws. And second, he sports round black and white plastic cartoon eyes, which are somewhat too small for his face. This configuration is also an outlier in Steiff's bear production. The only other example with this style and scale of eyes Steiffgal can think of is the company's Cosy Bruni Collar bear; he was made from 1965-1966. 


Steiff clearly had big plans for Cosy Teddy, as he was the "cover bear" for its 1964 "New Models" catalog. You can see that cover shot here on the left. Like Cosy Teddy, this four page catalog introduced a significant collection of new editions made from dralon materials. This publication is also very interesting because it debuted a number of items that were only produced for a year or so. Steiffgal refers to these now hard to find treasures as "One-derfuls" to note their single year appearance in the line. Cosy Teddy is one of these 1964 "One-derfuls"; others pictured in this brochure include Reinhold the Rhino, Loopy the Wolf, Zipper Cockie, and Sneba the Snowman puppet. Today, many of these rarities top enthusiasts' wish lists given how few were produced over a very short period of time. 


Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Cosy Teddy and his discovery has added a soft spot to your day. 

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

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Keeping It Tru With This Mysterious Prewar Steiff Doll

Hat's off to another great Steiff find! Here we have a lovely prewar Steiff doll that recently joined Steiffgal's hug. Her condition and coloring is stunning, and you can't help but admire her perfectly coordinated outfit - and how well she wears it! But behind this little gal are a number of really big mysteries. Take a look at Trude and see what makes here so intriguing from the product design and historical perspectives.

What we have here is a precious pressed felt faced doll named Trude. She is 35 cm, standing, three ways (head and legs) jointed, and excelsior stuffed. Her face is made from flesh colored felt, while her limbs and trunk are made from flesh colored linen. Her arms are floppy and hang loosely by her sides. Her arms are bent slightly at the elbows, and she has very defined fingers. Her face is highly textured, with chubby cheeks, a realistic mouth, pert nose, and lifelike blue glass eyes embedded in eye sockets. Her facial painting is lovely and done with a gentle hand. Even her little ears are sculpted just like a child's. She is finished with a blond mohair wig, which is seamlessly integrated into her head structure. Trude's IDs include her red rubber bracelet, tan colored tag, and teeny tiny prewar button. You can see her IDs close up in the photo below. 

Trude's outfit is adorable and fits her to a "t". She wears a white cotton "one-sie", which is trimmed with lace around the leg openings and bodice. It has thin little straps which fit over her shoulders to help keep it in place. Her short sleeved white cotton blouse is removable and closes in the back. It is cropped and detailed with red pull strings at the neck and arms. She wears a cotton dress that closes with two metal snaps and is detailed with a ruffle around the waist area. The fabric features yellow, blue, black, white, and green wildflowers on a red background. Her footwear also is removable and consists of white cotton socks and red felt Mary-Jane style shoes. And she retains her original red and yellow wide brimmed hat, which is trimmed and ties with a red silk cord.

Trude is super interesting for number of subtle reasons. Steiff's "pressed felt" face doll line was produced from 1937 through 1943, and then again in 1949 and 1950. Steiffgal cannot locate a c. 1930s-1950s era doll of her construction with that name. The fact that her name was written by hand on her tag suggests that only a few of these dolls with this name were made. But more on that in just a moment! Also of note is her construction. Many to most of these wartime era dolls were made entirely from felt, but this example has a felt head and a linen body and limbs. This may suggest that she was manufactured when fine toy making materials were unavailable or expensive due to wartime rationing or shortages - perhaps in the very 1930s to early 1940s. As a result, matching linen in the place of felt was used instead in less "visible" areas of the doll's anatomy. 

Trude is dressed and resembles one of Steiff's standard line production pressed felt faced dolls named Gretel. Gretel was made in 35 and 43 cm from 1938-1942 overall and is also dressed in a similarly styled red dress with snaps, a white blouse, and red felt shoes with white socks. The most obvious difference between Trude and Gretel in terms of outfits is that Gretel wears a red hairband, and Trude has an oversized felt hat. You can see a picture of Gretel here on the left, the image is from Pfeiffer's Sortiment 1892-1943.

So here is where there are more questions than answers about Trude. Was she made to substitute for Gretel in terms of her materials and construction? Was she perhaps a sample of some sort? Why doesn't she appear in any Steiff materials, as far as Steiffgal can locate? And why does she have a large, glorious felt hat... given the rest of her is constructed to minimize the use of this premier toy making fabric? Well, only she knows for sure... and unfortunately, she's not talking!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's terrific Trude doll has been a playful addition to your day. 

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

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Wool You Be My Baby?

It may sound corny, but this small scaled maize wool plush Teddy baby bear has captured Steiffgal's heart in a really big way! This happy handful has seen a lot in his nearly century of life, based on his loved condition. But the world hasn't seen a lot of him - or his pattern - based on his absolute rarity and short stint in Steiff's product catalog. Take a look at this beautiful baby and see what makes him so special from the design and promotional perspectives.

Teddy baby is 15 cm tall, fully jointed, and made from fuzzy maize colored wool plush.
His feet are made from slightly shorter wool plush. He has felt pads and four black claws on each paw. He has a side squeaker in his torso. Typical to his legacy namesake pattern, he has flat feet designed for standing, downturned arms, and a distinctly toddler-esque appearance and proportions. Although most Teddy baby bears are open mouthed, this particular model was produced with a closed mouth in all sizes. As such, his pensive face comes to life with proportional glass pupil eyes, a shorter wool plush inset muzzle, and a probably restitched black floss nose and mouth. He retains his long "trailing f" button as his Steiff ID.

Wool plush, closed mouth Teddy baby was produced in 12, 15, 20, 22, 28, and 35 cm (measured sitting) from 1929-1932 overall.
This pattern is one of the rarer prewar Teddy baby varieties. This is the first of his kind Steiffgal has ever seen or handled. The vast majority of prewar Teddy baby bears were produced in brown, blonde, or white mohair with smiling, velvet or felt lined open mouths.

Despite his relative rarity, this wool plush Teddy baby was featured in its own Steiff print advertisement.
This was produced and distributed in 1929, the year this Teddy baby was introduced. The main copy on the advertisement translates basically as: "The cute, fluffy bear child with the new expressive face, the loyal look and the cuddly paws, a great performance, fully mobile, and well-positioned." According to the print advertisement, Teddy baby is offered in maize mohair plush or wool plush. Both versions are available in 12, 15, 20, 22, 28, and 35; those at 22 cm and larger came with a growler. You can see this print advertisement here on the left. If you click on it, you can view it in a larger format.

It is also very interesting to note that the two different versions had significantly different prices as noted in Reichsmarks, the German currency of the era. You can see this in the third column of information describing each of the two Teddy baby variations. The wool plush versions generally are around 20% more expensive than the mohair plush versions. Steiffgal suspects that this likely reflected the actual costs of the fabric to make these items as the time and effort to make these two variations had to be almost identical.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this unusual prewar Teddy baby model has helped to rejuvenate your day!

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

Sunday, May 5, 2024

All Smiles Over This Steiff Midcentury Musical Teddy Baby!

You will quickly understand why Steiffgal is whistling a happy tune over this next fantastic - and most unexpected - find. This sweet gal was found at an estate sale in the New England area in somewhat run down condition. But Steiffgal knew with a little TLC, spit, and polish (and a new spring outfit), she would be nearly her old self again. Take a look at this midcentury singing sweetie and see what makes her so interesting from the design and historical perspectives.

Can you bear it? Yes, what we have here is Steiff's Music-Baer or Music Bear. She is 25 cm tall, head jointed, and standing. Her body is a simple cylinder made from tan wool plush and her brown mohair arms are floppy. She has pink hand embroidered claws on each paw. Her head is based on the beloved and legacy Teddy baby design, originally introduced in the 1920s. Teddy has an internal Swiss music box which plays when her torso is pressed and released up and down like an accordion. When she was new, she left the factory dressed in a white cotton shirt and a red, black, and white rayon skirt with a green felt waistband and matching suspenders. 

This musical marvel was made from 1950 through 1951 only. She retains her original Steiff trailing f button, yellow ear tag with the numbers 9325 on it, and traces of a white linen "Made in the US Zone" tag in her left arm seam. All of these IDs perfectly align with her dates of manufacture - just a few years after the company opened for toy making business again following WWII. It is interesting to note that this musical Teddy baby's ID number translates to... 9=mechanical, 3=mohair, 25=25 cm tall. Steiff also made "girly" versions of this dressed music box product based on their popular Bazi the Doxie and Kitty the cat designs of the period.

This Teddy baby find really benefited from a little spa treatment. Sadly, her rayon skirt and white shirt had all but disintegrated over time; what was left of both items were in tatters. To honor her "plaid" origins, Steiffgal created a little neck scarf out of the skirt's salvageable material. You can see her factory original outfit here on the left, the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1947-2003 Sortiment. 

Music Teddy also was covered in at least a half century of dust and grime. With a little elbow grease and a gentle scrub, her original beauty and personality came shining through again! Her wool plush body and tan muzzle darkened a touch overall and evenly over time, and there's not much anyone can do about that. But her brown mohair really revealed quite a glow upon cleaning. 

As for her clothing, Teddy baby is again donning an all original Steiff outfit. Although these contemporary pieces were produced by Steiff more than a half century onward from Teddy baby's birth year, they still look great, are appropriate, and well scaled to her somewhat unusual body. She wears a green calico dress; the fabric features tiny versions of Steiff's most popular playthings and Steiff bear faced logos. And she's keeping warm with a light blue felt jacket detailed with a collar and round gold buttons; this coat was produced for a Steiff Peter Rabbit a few years ago.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this wonderful Teddy find has been music to your ears. 

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

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