Saturday, September 3, 2011

Don't These Stunning Steiff Cats Turn Your Brown Eyes Blue?

The fact that each treasure Steiff produces is made lovingly by hand is one of the things that makes collecting vintage Steiff so enjoyable!  As a result, every piece truly has a look of its own, even if they started out from the identical pattern!  One "purr-fect" design highlights this diversity particularly well.  Siamy, the Siamese Cat, is considered the cat's meow to many collectors because of her beauty, intense eyes, and limited time in the line.  Let's take a brief look at her history and the variety of appearances she can take.

Although most cats supposedly have nine lives, the original Siamy actually has had only two in the Steiff line.  Siamy made her debut in 1930 and was produced in 14, 17, 22, 25, and 30 cm. The next year, this identical pattern was produced with a tail-turns-head mechanism. This early Siamy was made in tan mohair or wool plush. She had a small, vertically hand-stitched, heart-shaped pink nose and a simple pink closed mouth.  Perhaps Siamy’s most well-known, outstanding feature was her incredibly intense, cobalt blue glass pupil eyes—making her quite “a looker!” However, despite her popularity and striking good looks, the early sitting version was last noted in the catalog in 1933.  The picture on the left shows a 14 cm Siamy from around 1931; she sold at the 2010 Christie's Steiff auction in London for $3,760.

Siamy made another cat-nap long appearance in the Steiff line from 1953 through 1954. She was produced in 11, 15, and 23 cm. In addition to the change in sizes available, the post-war pattern did have a few minor design updates over the pre-war versions.  But one thing about her pattern didn’t change one bit over time—she retained her famous trademark blue eyes.  The picture here on the left shows a full set of post war Siamy cats from the 2010 Steiff auction at Christie's in London; the lot went for about $1,200.  Don't you just love their adorable and innocent "Who, me...?" facial expressions!

Siamy is certainly beautiful, and that beauty can take on many forms.  For example, take a look here at this photo of three 15 cm, post war Siamy's from Steiffgal's collection.  Despite the fact that they were all made within a two year time period, and from the same pattern, they have very different facial features and "looks" about them. (The eyes here don't count... Steiffgal had to replace the eyes of the one on the far right one as she arrived with tiny brown eyes, not her traditional "baby blues...")

Three details to consider...

1.  Nose stitching.  In these three examples, nose color stitching ranges from tan, to light brown, to dark brown.

2.  Facial coloring.  The range of chocolate brown highlighting ranges from the entire face to just the immediate forehead and muzzle, to somewhere in the middle.

3.  Mouth.  In two cases, Siamy has an open, peach felt lined mouth.  In the third case, her mouth is closed.  

It appears that Steiffgal has let the cat out of the bag that Steiff is an art, not a science, with this discussion on the company's stellar Siamys!
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.  
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