Saturday, April 24, 2010

This Steiff Poodle Has it "Maid" In the Shade

Finally! After looking for almost ten years, Steiffgal finally landed one of her dream pieces! After waiting for several anxious weeks - after all, the package was being mailed from overseas - the box finally arrived and was delivered to Steiffgal's front step. With great excitement, Steiffgal opened the carton and right away... she knew she had it "maid" in the shade with her newest vintage find, a Steiff poodle named Maidy.

So just who is
Maidy, and what makes her so special? Maidy is one of those Steiff "One-derful" items, made for just a year or so. Specifically, she appeared in the Steiff catalog in 1959 only. This black mohair beauty is standing and unjointed. She has a slightly longer mohair "beard" around her chin. Her mouth and claw stitching is done in mauve colored embroidery floss. She was produced in 25 and 30 cm; Steiffgal's Maidy is the 30 cm version.

There are two
things about Maidy, besides her very short time in production, that make her really remarkable. First are her eyes. They are gorgeous, large hand blown almond shaped "peepers"; each has a black pupil, brown iris, and white corners. Readers may recognize these eyes as the same ones that appeared on the pre-war and early post war Steiff little black Scotty dogs. The second is her remarkable mohair covering. It is analogous to the look and feel of "Persian Lamb", that is, it is distinctly bumpy and textured, with the mohair woven in tightly wound clusters. The only other Steiff item that Steiffgal can think of that uses this textured mohair is (not surprisingly...) Swapl, the black Persian lamb, made from 1957 thorough 1964.

Maidy is an interesting and unusual branch on the Steiff famil
y poodle tree. As a matter of fact, poodles are a legacy breed for Steiff; so much so that at least two of these standing curly coated cuties appeared in the debut catalog of 1892. Soon after, in 1894, Steiff introduced a sitting model which was produced through 1905. In 1908, Steiff gave their poodles a "makeover"; giving them a more toy-like in appearance and configuring them in a playful, begging position. Begging poodles were reintroduced in 1929 after a few years break and remained in the line until 1935. The pre-war tail-turns-head begging poodle, introduced in 1931, was reproduced as a Steiff Club limited edition replica in 1996.

Steiff poodles made an almost constant appearance in the Steiff line post WWII though the end of last century. Tosi, a wool plush poodle made in black or white, was introduced in 1950, just a few years after the factory reopened for business after the war. She was quickly followed by one of Steiff's most beloved and popular dog designs, Snobby the Poodle. This classic Snobby pattern made her grand debut in 1953 and appeared in the line through 1974 in 10, 14, 22, 35, and 43 cm. Snobby was produced in gray or black mohair, was jointed, and had a little round red felt tongue. Her coat was cut in what Steiff refers to as the "modern trim", meaning that her limbs, face, tail tip, and head crown were long mohair, while her body and neck were short mohair. This Snobby pattern proved so popular that she was soon being produced in as a riding toy, a puppet, and as a soft, curled up resting animal. Fast forward a few years post the classic Snobby period, Steiff continued to produce dozens of mostly soft plush play poodles in white, black, gray, and brown through the next three decades. The photos above on the left show some of the better and lesser known post-war Steiff poodles; pictured here are a grey mohair 35 cm lying Snobby poodle (1955 - 1967), a black mohair 14 cm black Snobby poodle (1953 - 1974), a 12 cm white plush Whitey poodle (1978 - 1984), and a pair of black plush 50 cm standing and begging studio poodles (1978 - 1984).

Steiffgal hopes this column has noodled your interest in these well-coiffed Steiff canines!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, big-haired or otherwise? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.
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