Tuesday, September 14, 2021

This 1960s-Era Steiff Polar Bear Is Footloose And Fancy Free!

Is it possible to be naughty and nice at the same time? And no... this isn't a trick question or have anything to do with Santa Claus! It is in reference to a little known, but very interesting, 1960s era Steiff polar bear. Take a look at this cold weather cutie and see what makes him so cool from the design perspective.

This polar pal's name is Cosy Nauty.
He is standing, unjointed, and measures about 15 cm tall and 27 cm wide. He is made from longer white dralon plush, while his inset muzzle is made from shorter white dralon. His paw pads are made from peach colored felt. His face comes to life with black button eyes, a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and a touch of airbrushed highlights. His feet are detailed with tiny white felt claws in the shapes of triangles. Nifty Nauty appeared in the line in this size only from 1963-1966.

This polar bear pattern has two really interesting details associated with it.
The first is its unusual claw detailing. Steiff most often indicates claws by stitching or paint. In this case, Nauty's claws are three dimensional and made from white felt. You can see a close up of that detailing here on the left. Steiff may have been experimenting with this treatment in the mid-1960s. It is curious that their beloved Zooby Circus bear - produced in 1964 and 1966 - also had white felt triangular claws, while its 28 cm white Cosy Bear from 1964 only featured brown felt triangular claws. These three bears with this similar design element were all the line for only a handful of years. This suggests that this feature was not terribly attractive to buyers, and/or was too costly from the manufacturing perspective.

The second noteworthy thing about Nauty is that he was also produced as an even lesser known novelty item.
In 1964, Steiff produced a series of smaller scaled pajama bags. These included a Zipper Cockie (a cocker spaniel) Zipper Zotty (a Zotty bear) and Zipper Nauty (a polar bear). All were 30 cm. Cockie and Zotty were made from mohair while Nauty was produced in white dralon - similar to the full bodied version. And like his namesake, this polar bear PJ bag also featured felt claws. You can see Zipper Nauty and Zipper Zotty pictured here on the left. These Zipper animals appeared in the line through 1966 overall.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's little known Nauty polar bear has helped you to chill out just a bit today!

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

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Good Looks Run In The Family With Steiff's Prewar King Charles Spaniel Puppets!

Dog-gonnit, where did the summer go? And just like that, it's September, and all things turn to pumpkin spice. Steiffgal's final summer find turned out to be one happy handful indeed. Check out this charming prewar puppet and see what makes him so interesting from the design and historical perspectives. 

This delightful Steiff puppet is certainly of royal status! Here we have Steiff's Punch Charles, or earliest King Charles Spaniel puppet. He is 17 cm tall and made from black and tan mohair. He has a hollow puppet body and arms. His head is solidly stuffed with excelsior and has a cardboard finger tube in it. The tips of his paws have a little excelsior in them to give them form and dimension. Typical to the dog breed, he has adorable, long, and floppy mohair ears. His face comes to life with proportional brown and black glass eyes, a prominent forehead and muzzle, and a black hand embroidered nose and mouth. His IDs, which were a long trailing "f" button and either a white or red ear tag, have been lost to time.  This cheerful Charles appeared in the line from 1911-1929 overall. 

Like many prewar puppets, Punch Charles is based on a popular, full bodied animal design. He is a novelty item inspired by Steiff's precious King Charles Dog. This canine model was fully jointed and also made from black and tan mohair fabrics. He appeared in the line in 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm from 1908 through 1927. Although these were in production for a relatively long time, Steiffgal has only handled one example in decades. She suspects that is the case as they were so adorable, and lifelike, that kids simply loved them to death! You can see the full bodied King Charles Dogs here on the left, the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.

Steiff's black and white, fully jointed King Charles Dog pattern was truly a legacy design for the company, appearing consistently in the line for nearly 20 years.
 In 1924, Steiff introduced a very similar looking brown and white mohair standing King Charles Spaniel in 17, 22, and 25 cm. This head jointed pattern was only produced through 1927. 

In 1928, Steiff debuted its named, and totally fantastic, Charly the King Charles Spaniel pattern. The 1924-1927 model seemed to be a transitional design between the earliest black and white King Charles Dog pattern and Charly. Charly was very typical to late 1920s introductions, and featured fluffy mohair, oversized eyes, puppy like proportions, and a distinctly childlike personality. Charly would go on to be made as a puppet in 17 cm from 1928-1939, overlapping Punch Charles production by two years... 1928 and 1929. These two cousins are pictured here. Punch Charles is on the  left, and Charly is on the right. Good looks certainly run in the family!

Steiffgal hopes you are all hands in the air over Steiff's prewar King Charles Spaniel puppet production!

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

Saturday, August 28, 2021

This Pretty, Prewar, And Purple Steiff Princess Rains Supreme!!

WARNING! You are about to get all out joint over today's blog special guest!
This pretty kitty has just about everything going for her, including her looks, color, era, and "secret skill." Check out this fine feline and see what makes her so fabulous from the design and collector's perspective. 

This (now) purple kitten rains supreme. Here we have Steiff's fully jointed "Kitty." She is 15 cm tall and 21cm wide, not including her impressive tail. She is made from blue/black tipped mohair that has faded overall and evenly to a delightful, dark purple hue. Her underbelly, ears, muzzle, feet, and the tip of her tail are made from white mohair. Her face comes to life with a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth and teal green and black slit pupil eyes. Kitty was produced in 15, 18, 21, and 23 cm from 1931-1935. This example retains her long trailing "f" button as her Steiff ID. 

But wait, there's more!
Kitty's long tail is functional as well as aesthetic. This model is actually a tail turns head model, meaning that when her tail is rotated in a circle, her head follows in tandem. This technology was patented by the Steiff company in the early 1930s and basically consists a system that connects the head and the tail through a series of internal metal connectors and joints. 

Head jointed animals were an important part of the Steiff line in the early 1930s. Over time, about 25 different tail turns head models were produced through the very early 1940s. For the most part, these were based on the best selling standard line patterns of the time and included cats, dogs, rabbits, penguins, goats, and lambs, and even Mickey Mouse, among others. However, as far as Steiffgal can tell, this Kitty was one of the few tail moves head items that was only made as a tail moves head animal and not produced in any other form. It is interesting to note that she is neither pictured or mentioned in Steiff's 1931 novelty catalog where many of the other tail moves head animals debuted. 

Now, let's use some colorful language to describe her hue.
Today, Kitty is a marvelous shade of deep purple. But she did not start out life that way. According to Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment, this model was produced in "blue/black tipped" mohair. But it has clearly mellowed to a pretty purple color over time. Another wonderful novelty produced with "blue/black" mohair at about the same time as Kitty was Steiff's King Peng penguin. You can see and example of a King Peng here on the left, the photo is from Christies. Today, when you find a King Peng, often his once blue/black mohair has become a similar purple color as Kitty's. As such, Steiffgal suspects that Steiff's 1930-era blue/black mohair was produced with a dye or dyes that oxidized or somehow had a chemical reaction with air or moisture over time. If this color change was due to something simple like direct sunlight, the change would not be so even or so consistent.

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on this pretty purple princess has crowned your day.

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

Sunday, August 22, 2021

This Dressed Steiff Rabbit Doll Is The Best Of Both Worlds!

Overall, this next fantastic find is certain to put a joyful spring in your step! Steiffgal found this bitty bun in the recent United Federation of Doll Club's salesroom - lying upside down and backwards in a case piled full of mohair and treasures. All she could see was one very large foot with red claw stitching... and the rest is history. Come take a look at this dolly-delightful bun and see what makes him so interesting from the design and collector's perspectives.

This happy hopper measures 17 cm (without his ears), is begging, and head jointed. He originally was covered in white and tan mohair - but not a hare/hair remains on him! He is detailed with extra long, skinny feet, a tiny pert tail, and oversized ears. His face comes to life with big brown and black glass pupil eyes, a typical 1920s era style hand embroidered nose and mouth, and traces of once brown airbrushed highlights. He dons his original and totally adorable blue cloth overalls. He retains his long trailing "f" button and traces of his red ear tag as his Steiff IDs.

This seldom seen pattern appeared in the line from 1929-1932 overall in 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm. Steiff's rabbits are measured without their ears, so they actually are a little larger in real life than these measurements suggest. This model was produced in one of six documented outfits. According to Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment, these included a blue playsuit, a red skirt and white apron, a purple jacket, a red skit and purple jacket, a red and white dress, or a pink dress. This example under discussion here is the one in a blue playsuit - which is detailed with tiny faux front pockets, contrasting tan colored stitching, back black snaps, and a perfect opening for his pert tail. It is interesting to note that this pattern is considered a "doll" in terms of his category - most likely because of his toddler-esque shape, standing form, and the fact that he is dressed. 

This guy is really shy - and seldom if ever appears in public! Despite being launched in 1929, as far as Steiffgal can tell, an example does not appear in the company's primary catalog of that year. The only other one Steiffgal is aware of is one that was sold at Christies in 2010. That particular example was cataloged as, "A STEIFF DRESSED BOY RABBIT, (4317,61), light brown and white mohair, brown and black glass eyes, pink and red stitching, whiskers, swivel head, inoperative squeaker, blue dungarees and FF button with red cloth tag, circa 1930 --6¼in. (16cm.) (some slight fading)." It was estimated at GBP 1,000 - GBP 1,500 and realized GBP 1,375. You can see that listing here on the left, the image is from Christies. You can click on it to make it bigger.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of this rare and usual animal doll has been the best of both worlds for you.

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

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