Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pip, Pip Hooray!

Here's something really worth cheering!  And putting your hands in the air about - literally!  Thanks to he help of a very good friend acting as her proxy at the recent Steiff Summer Auction in Giengen, Germany, Steiffgal is now the proud owner of this beautiful vintage Steiff pup, a caricatured bulldog. This not-often seen "pipsqueak" of a canine is called Pip, and he has an interesting - but brief - history in the Steiff line.  

This particular Pip is 10 cm, sitting, and made from green velvet which has faded over time. He has a swivel head and a yellow inset facial area.  His nose is black and hand embroidered; he has a little red tongue and dots on his upper muzzle (perhaps to give the impression of whiskers.) His googly eyes are white, brown, and black glass and are adjustable -  making many funny facial expressions possible!  He has his red ear tag and trailing F button. 
Overall, this dainty dog design appeared in Steiff line from 1926 through 1931, with one notable exception.   He was available sitting (in 8 and 10 cm) and standing (8, 10, 12, and 17 cm).  As for materials, he was made in mohair in pink, maize, lavender, and brown tipped mohair and in velvet in light blue, green, orange, and red.  He was also produced as a pincushion in the late 1920's.  Interestingly, he made a surprise appearance again in the catalog in 1941 as a 17 cm brown tipped mohair purse. 

Like several of the Steiff dogs of the 1920's - including Treff the Bloodhound - Pip has an interesting story behind him.  Pip is based on a dog character from Austin Bowen Payne's "Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred" cartoon series. This popular strip was published from 1919 to 1956 in the Daily Mirror, a British tabloid newspaper founded in 1903.  The beloved cartoon series featured the adventures of an unlikely trio: a dog (Pip), a penguin (Squeak), and rabbit (Wilfred). Because of copyright and legal issues, Steiff was not able to sell Pip in England. 

Pips are seldom seen in the marketplace and are a real collector's treasure.  Their very short time in the line helps to explain their relative rarity.  But there are a few other factors contributing to their scarcity as well.  First, they were designed and marketed as a playful novelty, meaning that many were actually used as toys - therefore reducing the number still in existence due to wear and tear. Second, their size.  The smaller the item, them more likely it would have been misplaced or lost - and many of these Pips were palm-sized!  

Steiffgal hopes this information about Pip has brought a little pleasure to your dog days of summer.

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

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rock on with Steiff!

A Steiff mystery is so much fun, a double mystery is twice as nice!  Sometimes things are not so easy to identify, but this challenge has an additional rockin' twist.  Check out this note from Marilyn, who asks about her "kinetic" canine.  She writes...

"Dear Steiffgal, 

Please help.  I started collecting Steiff back in the 60’s.  One item I found six years ago appears to be a Steiff dog (St. Bernard) on a metal rocker.  The plush dog part is about 28 inches long and the entire rocker is about 50 inches long.  

Can you tell me anything more about this?

Thanks and best,


Wow, this item is quite the mover and shaker!  There are two very interesting things going on here.  Let's take a look at them one at a time.  

The first is the rocker itself.  Steiff calls this a Stahlwiege or steel rocker.  It is an accessory that people could buy for riding animals, to convert them from rollers to rockers. it is made out of red steel tubing and came in 4 sizes to accommodate riding animals ranging from 30 to 80 cm:  a smaller one to for items 30, 40, and 43 cm; one for 50 cm items; one for 60 cm items; and one for 80 cm items. People could disconnect the wheels off of the frames of certain riding animals and slip them into the Stahlwiege to make a rocking style animal. This device was made from 1969-1984.

The second is the St. Bernhard riding dog.  Steiffgal cannot find reference to a plush version of this item in Gunther Pfeiffer's Steiff Sortiment Book, the gold standard Steiff reference book.  Over time, Steiffgal has found this book to be about 90% complete, but it would be all but impossible to capture every item Steiff has made since it began producing a catalog in 1892!  However, Marilyn's dog has a remarkable resemblance to one of Steiffgal's dogs, a 125 cm Studio St. Bernhard produced from 1973 through 1983. Steiffgal's dog is pictured here above on the left.  Just for size reference, he is shown with a real life Steiffpug... yes, this Studio dog is a mighty big boy!

Riding dogs were a staple item in the post war Steiff line through the mid 1970's. Many of the company's better known canines were produced as riding dogs; these included a riding Boxer (1950 - 1961), riding Foxy Fox terrier (1949 - 1966), riding Terry Airedale (1950 - 1961), and riding Arco German Shepherd (1957 - 1960).   Fast forward a few years, Steiff continued to make several riding dogs through the mid-1970's; these included a 50 cm riding Cockie Cocker Spaniel and a 50 cm riding Schnauzer.  It is Steiffgal's best guess that this riding St. Bernhard was made in the mid 1970's at the same time as the riding Cockie and Schnauzer.   Perhaps it was produced as a special order, or in limited quantities,  and for that reason somehow is not documented right now in the standard Steiff reference books. Additionally, it is likely that the original owner took off the riding wheels and substituted the Stahlwiege for them. 

Steiffgal hopes this merry mystery has given you something to bark about!

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Steiff's Very Own Covergirl!

There are many great reasons to start a community site.  Steiffgal created MySteiffLife so collectors from all over the world would have an online destination to learn and share information about vintage playthings from this remarkable toy company from Germany.

That being the case, Steiffgal wanted to share this brief note from a collector in Germany who sheds some light on a Steiff mystery (at least to those of us here in the USA) that's at least a few dog years old.   Awhile back, Steiffgal wrote a post about a darling and beloved Steiff Cocker Spaniel dog named Revue Susi.   Susi is sitting, made from blond mohair, and head jointed. Her head is quite detailed and completely adorable; she has large plastic pupil eyes, airbrushed "eyebrows" and lips, pronounced doggy jowls, and floppy ears made of long, lush mohair. Revue Susi was produced in 4 sizes - 12, 17, 28, and 35 cm - from 1959 through 1977.  

One of the things that is really unusual about Revue Susi is her name.  For some reason, Revue Susi is the only Cocker Spaniel with a name other than Cockie.  Why is that?  Check out Claudia's note to find out!  She writes...

"Hello Steiffgal,

Just found your wonderful blog on the internet. And I am happy that I can clarify the mystery over the name of Revue Susi for you. 

Revue was a German people-magazine from 1946 to 1966. Its mascot dog was Susi. But I believe that Susi was a dachshund (as there was a prize winning game, where you could win a sibling of Susi and the dog to be won was a dachshund!). 

In the attachment you can see a picture of Susi on the front cover of the magazine."

Best collector wishes from Germany, Claudia"
Claudia, on behalf of all the Steifflife readers, many thanks for this wonderful information on Revue Susi and the delightful magazine cover showing her probable namesake!  What an interesting story!  Steiffgal is certain that everyone would agree that this photogenic pup certainly lives up to her the covergirl (Steiffgal means cover dog!) legacy.

Do you know any Steiff insights you would like to share?  Send them to Steiffgal at so she can share them here with our wonderful growing community of Steiff collectors.  

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

Friday, June 11, 2010

Jumping Through Hoops For More Information on Steiff Tigers

It's not that often that collectors come across one magnificent, half-century old Steiff studio animal.  So imagine Steiffgal's wild delight when she received this note about three life-sized Steiff "jungle brothers!"  Take a look at this inquiry from John, who writes from Chicago, Illinois...


I would love your input on the 3 large vintage Steiff tigers pictured in the attached images. I've looked in several online catalogs and haven't found comparable items.

They are approximately 45" long, hard fill, and have round Steiff paper labels reading "Mottenecht Durch / Eulan / Bayer / Steiff / Original Marke / "Original Steiff." 

The leaping tiger is on a metal rod and somewhere we have a hoop that attaches to the rod so that he's "jumping through" the hoop.

Any idea what we have, how much they might be worth? Any expert input would be welcome.

Thanks in advance, 


John, your streak of tigers (literally the word for a group of these big cats) would certainly get the adrenaline pumping in any Steiff enthusiast!  

Let's first take a relaxed look at the lying down tigers.  These terrific life-sized twins are 80 cm and made from mohair.  They are unjointed and hand stuffed with excelsior (wood shavings).  Their black striping was done entirely by hand.  Their faces are truly remarkable.  Each has the famous Steiff "glow in the dark" green eyes, a vertically stitched pink nose, and an open, peach felt lined mouth detailed with four pointy teeth.  It is very interesting to note in the picture how similar - and different - these two tigers are in appearance.   Because these Steiff studio tigers were made entirely by hand, over the course of several days, each truly takes on a life and personality of his own.  Just another example of the magic of Steiff craftsmanship.  These tigers appeared in the catalog in 1960 and again in 1967. 

Steiff really fleshed out their "cat"alog of prone studio-sized jungle cats about the same time as John's lying tigers made their appearances.  Fellow felines included 90 and 110 cm mohair lions in 1960 and 1967; an 80 cm mohair lioness in 1960 and 1967; an 80 cm mohair leopard in 1967; and an 80 cm plush panther in 1967.

Steiffgal is jumping for joy to tell John more about his third tiger.  This acrobatic animal is Steiff's jumping studio tiger.  Like his brothers above, he is also 80 cm but in an athletic, jumping position.  He shares their detailed facial characteristics and construction details.  This jumping tiger was produced in 1953, 1960, and 1967.

One of the things that makes this tiger so interesting is that he is designed to appear to be in suspended animation; i.e., jumping through a hoop.  Steiffgal is not able to recall any other studio piece that defies gravity quite like this one!  Steiff did this in a rather clever way, given the size and weight of the tiger, and the desired visual effect. The tiger has a metal rod stand embedded in his belly, which balances him off the ground on a three pronged stand.  The hoop attaches onto the metal stand a few inches underneath his belly, giving the illusion of him jumping through the hoop.  The picture above on the left is from Gunther Pfieffer's Steiff Sortiment Book 1947-2003 and shows what he looks like "in action".  

As for value and collectivity, these tigers - to quote Tony the Tiger - are grrreat!  As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and strongly believes that something is worth what someone else would actually pay for it. The lying down tigers, given their age, condition, and duality, are interesting from a collector's perspective.  And tigers and studio items have always been fan favorites among enthusiasts.  That all being said, Steiffgal would guestimate that each would be valued in the $500-1,000 range. As for the jumping tiger, that's a little harder to say given how unusual he is and how infrequently he comes up on the market.  Steiffgal would guestimate that he would value in the $1,200-$2,000 range, given John has all the metal hardware associated with his display.

Steiffgal hopes this Steiff safari featuring these terrific tigers has been a studio-pendous treat for you!

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

Friday, June 4, 2010

Steiff Love At First Sight

Love at first sight.  Have you ever "felt" that way about a potential Steiff addition to your collection?  Well, Steiffgal did recently, when she came across - and ended up buying - this remarkable turn of last century felt Steiff girl doll.  Check out Steiffgal's latest button-in-ear find and the interesting history and details behind this rare and unusual piece!

 Steiffgal saw this darling blue eyed beauty recently listed on eBay and knew right away this doll belonged in her collection.  This tiny treasure is 22 cm, made from flesh colored felt, and is five ways jointed. She is firmly stuffed with excelsior.  Her feet are very simple, but her hands have distinctive fingers and thumbs.  Her belly has a seam down the middle which has been carefully sewn up by hand.  The doll's face has the traditional center seam, peachy cheeks, a happy red mouth, and very detailed ears.  She has very short mohair hair and a tiny (4 mm) Steiff button in her left ear, pictured here on the left.  She sports a cheerful orange flannel dress; a thin cotton slip; a red, white, blue, black, and green apron; and a cream, pink, magenta, and green ribbon trimmed bonnet.

22 cm Steiff felt "child-like" dolls are a really unusual size and very few variations were made; the more typical size for this product line was 28 cm.  The smallest felt dolls Steiff made pre-war were 20 cm, but these were character dolls and even rarer than the 22 cm dolls under discussion here.  From 1917 through 1919, Steiff made three models of 22 cm boys and ten models of 22 cm girls.  They were differentiated by their clothing and footwear styles.  Each of these dolls had charming, well constructed matching clothing made from high end materials, including felt, velvet, calicos, wool, and embroidered muslin.  Most of the 22 cm dolls all had hats, which exactly matched the fabric or theme of their outfits.  They were also detailed with stockings and hand-made felt or leather shoes. 

This felt girl is a lovely doll but it is very hard to tell which exact catalog model doll she represents.  Steiffgal is certain that she is not wearing "officially made" Steiff clothes.  Her outfit is extremely well constructed but it is a bit more "peasant looking" and not nearly as color and pattern coordinated enough as those that appeared on these dolls as they left the factory over 90 years ago.  This outfit was most likely made for this doll by a talented seamstress using leftover fabrics and materials from another home sewing project.  

Besides her great looks and charming personality, one of the things that makes this doll so special is that she has a documented provenance. She comes from the estate Wildred and Oma Mangold, who died 2008 at the age of 90+.  The Mangolds lived in Armstrong, Iowa. Oma was a school teacher.  She married Wildred in 1941 and together they ran the local grocery store in Armstrong for many years. The Mangolds did not have children but were instrumental in establishing the local library where Oma served as president of the board. Wilfred collected clocks and Oma collected dolls. Oma's collection included many foreign "souvenir" type dolls but also a Lenci, Kathe Kruse, this charming Steiff doll, and other china and bisque dolls.  Steiffgal has decided to name her Oma (which means "Granny" in German) in honor of her original owner.  Coincidentally, Steiffgal also had a Grandmother named Oma.

Readers, as always, you are all dolls for reading this post to the end.  Steiffgal hopes that you have found Oma's story and history as charming as she is.

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