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.

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