Saturday, June 23, 2012

Everyone Loves a (Steiff) Man In Uniform!

Some Steiff treasures are so special - and personal - that you just want to stand and salute them.  And such is the exact case here with this "almost antique" felt soldier that Steiffgal most recently welcomed into her growing collection of turn of last century dolls.   Take a look at his handsome details and see what makes him so special from the design, historical, and in this case, family perspectives.

It's safe to say this distinguished gentleman makes quite the uniform presentation.  This is Steiff's five ways jointed "Infantryman" doll.  He is 28 cm and made entirely from felt.  His head and hands are made from flesh colored felt while his uniform and hat, which are integral to his body, are made from brown felt.  His center seamed face is detailed with tiny brown and black glass pupil eyes, red painted on lips, and light brown eyebrows.  His hair is indicated by very light brown airbrushing on the back of his head.  Soldier's uniform consists of a matching top coat, hat, and pants.  The hat is trimmed in red felt and has two decorative medallions on it.  The coat has a pointed collar, epaulets, and decorative buttons and trim on the cuffs.  Originally it had five tiny matching buttons down the front.  The pants are simple and detailed with red stitching.  Soldier has oilcloth shoes, a leather belt, and a ceremonial sabre.  Infantryman was made in 28 and 35 cm from 1914 though 1921.

It's hard to miss the large military medal pinned to the soldier's uniform.  This is an authentic German army "Iron Cross" from World War I, given for distinguished military service. The award is not original to the doll, most likely it was placed there by his original owner in honor of a loved one who fought in this war.  This particular Iron Cross has the era in which it was issued the year "1914".  The reverse of the medal has the year "1813" on it, symbolizing the year the award was created. 

When Steiffguy saw this doll and his medal, it immediately brought back a flood of memories for him.  As it turns out, his beloved Grandfather of blessed memory was also awarded this same medal for his service in WWI.  Steiffguy's Grandfather's name was Eugene Strauss Loewenstein.  He changed his last name to Lowell after arriving in the United States in 1922.  Eugene was born on June 18, 1896 near Mainz, Germany.  After taking the oath to serve in the German Army in late November 1914, he was wounded in action (head wound from shrapnel) on February 16, 1915 in France.   He subsequently was awarded the Iron Cross.  Eugene is pictured above, not in uniform, wearing his Iron Cross, in the city of Dusseldorf, Germany.  He is also pictured below wearing his Iron Cross, surrounded by friends after returning home from the war.  The hand written note on the back of the nearly century old photo reads:

"A Comic Photo - everyone (Berg, Klos, Reiner, Heisse, Gelenberg) dressed in long night shirts (no pajamas were used then) – all young friends who greeted me upon returning from the war.   Note Iron Cross.  These boys were all several years younger."

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of this Steiff soldier doll and the Iron Cross has won the battle of your heart.

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