Saturday, July 20, 2013

What's Not To Love About FAO Schwarz's Exclusive Steiff Spotty Dotties!

Can you do two things - like see spots and take a stand - all at the same time?  Well, this pair of Steiff rarities is doing just that!  Here we have two examples of one of the rarest dogs Steiff produced in the 1950's, the standing Dally Dalmatian.  These pups were produced exclusively for the high end toy retailer FAO Schwarz in the United States.  Let's see what makes these dotted doggies so special from the historical and design perspectives.

It's easy to crack a smile when it comes to this precious Steiff design.  These Dallies are 11 cm tall, standing on all fours, and unjointed.  They are made from white mohair that has been meticulously hand airbrushed with black spots.  If you look closely at the picture here on the left, you will see that the spots are basically in the identical places on each dog... now that's precision!  Dallys' ears are made of mohair, while their open, smiling mouths are lined in peach colored velvet.  Each dog face is detailed with brown and black pupil style eyes and a simple black hand embroidered mouth.  Each also wears a red leather collar.  Standing Dally was produced in 11, 22, and 28 cm; the 11 cm size was made in 1953 only, while the 22 and 28 cm sizes were made in 1955 only.

Steiff enthusiasts will most certainly recognize standing Dally's design as quite similar to the company's standard line sitting Dally Dalmatian.  Sitting Dally, who is pictured here on the left, was produced in 10, 17, and 28 cm from 1953 through 1969 overall.  Like standing Dally, sitting Dally also came with a red leather collar; however, sitting Dally had a swivel head while standing Dally was unjointed.  Steiff also produced Dally as a 17 cm hand puppet from 1955 through 1956.  It is not unusual that FAO Schwarz offered slightly modified versions of popular standard line Steiff dogs in their line.  For example, in 1965 and 1966, FAO Schwarz had a 15 cm open mouthed mohair beagle in their catalog.  FAO's beagle pattern was based on Steiff's standing Biggie beagle, which was produced in 10, 17, and 25 cm from 1958 through 1961.  

It is very interesting to note that both a sitting and standing version of Dally are featured on the cover of Gunther Pfeiffer's 1947-1999 Steiff Sortiment reference book (pictured here on the left.) 

In addition to standing Dally, FAO Schwarz also worked with Steiff to create several other really adorable mohair Dalmatian themed products to their stores.  One was a 23 cm sitting Dally; she was also based on the standard line Steiff Dally but her lines were a little more graceful and a little less puppy-like than the regular Dally.  She was produced in 1953 only.  Another was a very playful Dally Family, which consisted of the 23 cm exclusive Dally and several 10 cm standard line sitting Dally puppies, all resting on a cotton cushion in a wicker dog bed.  This set was also only produced in 1953.  Perhaps the most "regal" special Dally was FAO's Royal Dally, a 14 cm, closed mouth sitting Dalmatian wearing a crown and cape.  He was available in 1963 only. The final special Dally was a lying down version; he had an open mouth and was curled up on his side in a realistic, resting position.  He was produced in 28 and 43 cm in 1956 only.  All of these items are extremely rare; most likely due to their limited production and distribution.  As a result, they are very seldom seen and tend to generate great collector's interest when they do indeed come up on the secondary market. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on FAO Schwarz exclusive Dally Dalmatians has been more fun than a visit to your favorite toy store!

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