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.

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