Saturday, September 14, 2013

Seeing Stripes Over This Zany Steiff Zebra

My, oh my, what a wonderful day 
Plenty of sunshine headin' my way 
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay"

Steiffgal couldn't help but break into song - that wonderful Academy Award winning Disney tune from "Song of the South" - when she was introduced to this week's blog feature item.  After all, it is possible that this happy fellow just might be the zenith of early post war Steiff items.  No other rarity from this era can match the zip and zeal of this black and white beauty.   Take a look and zee - I mean see -  for yourself!

This tall drink of water is Steiff''s Lulac zebra.  Lulac style animals have comically long arms, legs, and torsos, and are usually very playful and goofy looking.  This zany Lulac zebra is 30 cm tall and unjointed.  He is made from tan mohair which has been stenciled with black stripes all over his body.  His paw pads are made from black felt, and his tail is made from white felt which has also been airbrushed with stripes.  The tip of his tail is finished with a tuft of long black mohair.  Zebra has a tan and black bristle-style mane.  The insides of his ears are airbrushed in pink and grey.  His face is detailed with black and brown pupil eyes, longer fur around his sideburn areas and forehead, and a smiling, peach felt lined open mouth.  He is complete with his raised script Steiff button, yellow ear tag, and large, colorful bear faced chest tag.

This jungle jem is really rare; so rare that little is known about him.  It is not really even clear what his name is, or might be (Zelac, maybe?) or when he was made.  Steiffgal was not able to find out any more information on him in any of the standard Steiff reference books.  However, he comes with two small clues about his identity.  The first is his yellow ear tag, which has the numbers 7330 on it.  This corresponds to... 7 = in caricature, 3 = mohair, and 30 = 30 cm tall.  The second is his complete set of IDs, its configuration dates him in the early 1950's through late 1960's.  What is striking about him, however, are his physical and structural similarities to another rare and beloved Steiff Lulac character, the Lulac Esel or Lulac donkey, which was a USA exclusive in 1954 only.  Lulac donkey and Lulac zebra are pictured here on the left.  This beloved barnyard buddy is documented at 35 cm and looks almost identical to his zebra cousin, except for a few design details:
  • Lulac zebra is black and white striped while Lulac donkey is shades of grey
  • Lulac zebra has black and brown pupil eyes while Lulac donkey has shiny black button eyes
  • Lulac zebra's ears face outward while Lulac donkey's ears face inward  
It is also interesting to note that even though Lulac donkey is cataloged at 35 cm, he is in reality 30 cm tall, identical to Lulac zebra.

So what's the story behind Lulac zebra?  Well, Steiffgal can't find anything definitive in writing about him, so here are her best thoughts, based on the little that can deduced and some circumstantial evidence.  First of all, Steiffgal has seen one or two other Lulac zebras over the decade, so a few were made; this is not a "one of a kind" rarity.  And, given how close he is in design, look, and feel to Lulac donkey, Lulac zebra was most likely produced at the same time (1954, plus or minus a year or two) as Lulac donkey.  Steiffgal does know with certainty that Lulac zebra was purchased in the mid to late 1950's at FAO Schwarz in New York.  So net net, it is Steiffgal's best guesstimate that Lulac zebra is either a poorly documented United States or FAO Schwarz exclusive edition that was produced in exceedingly small numbers in the mid 1950's.  

Steiffgal hopes this introduction to Steiff's Lulac zebra has been quite "zee" exclusive experience for you!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.   

No comments:

Post a Comment

The teddy bear search engine