Sunday, October 16, 2016

Science Proves Why Steiff's Petsy Bear Is Truly Irresistible!

Steiffgal's got a very special houseguest this month - an original late 1920's Steiff Petsy bear. He's visiting the Northeast for a few more weeks, then its off to his new forever home in Europe. Early and original Petsy bears hold a unique place in Steiff collector's hearts. Their adorable looks, charming personalities, and distinctly child-like features really are in a class by themselves in terms of Steiff bear designs. All of this got Steiffgal wondering... is there a scientific reason why this might be the case?

All kidding aside, let's first take a closer look at this blue-eyed baby. Petsy is 43 cm tall, fully jointed, and made from brown tipped mohair, which has faded and thinned significantly in this case. His paw pads are made from tan felt. His pert face comes to life with a prominent center facial seam, oversized blue and black pupil eyes, a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth, and proportionally large, wire rimmed ears. His big blue bow, although a delightful accessory, is not original to him. Tipped Petsy had a short, but sweet, appearance in the Steiff catalog, only appearing from 1928 through the very early 1930's. He was made in ten sizes ranging from 15 to 50 cm sitting (or 22 to 75 cm standing.) Tipped Petsy was also produced as a musical Ted in 17 and 20 cm (or 25 and 30 cm standing), on a four wheeled rolling cart in 20 and 25 cm, as a 17 cm puppet, and as a 17 cm purse.

So just what makes Petsy's design so baby-like and absolutely precious? In this case, it's a bit of brilliant business strategy meets science. From the business end of things, Petsy is the vision of Richard Steiff, whose product design priorities and directives in the mid- to late- 1920's included creating colorful patterns with softer, kinder, youthful expressions that reflected the "look and feel" of the roaring, playful 1920's. 

However, few could argue that Petsy is not just appealing, but uber-cute. And that's where the science end of things may help to explain things. According to The Daily Mail's "How It Works" researchers, there is a phenomenon called "baby schema" which makes adults find certain configurations of body proportions on animals, children, and even some inanimate objects absolutely irresistible. From an evolutionary perspective, this may reflect the universal need to care for and protect our youngsters. Seeing cute things also releases dopamine, a neurochemical responsible in part for making us all feel good. Doesn't the cute photo on the left of the puppy and kitten make you smile?

According to scientists, these "cute" features include:

  • A wide, prominent forehead 
  • A proportionally large, round, symmetrical head 
  • Big eyes placed low on the face 
  • Soft textures 
  • Rounded body and features 
Petsy gets an A+ in meeting these requirements. His forehead is quite distinctive, and further emphasized by his center seam. His head is round and absolutely symetrical. His eyes are large, wide, and placed relatively low on his face. His brown tipped mohair is very soft and fluffy, and invites touching. And his chubby proportions and almost completely round ears complete the package. 

But the science of "cute" also has practical implications for Steiff collectors. According to another published study from research conducted in Japan, people did better on tasks requiring focused attention better after viewing cute images - those that met the scientific criteria listed above. The findings of the work suggest that cute things may be used as "an emotion elicitor to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work."  So, given this is true, Steiffgal suggests always having a dear Steiff friend close at hand to insure you do your very best... and that every day should be Take Your Teddy To Work Day!  

Steiffgal hopes this article helped to add a little dopamine to your day!

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

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Sitting Pretty With This Rare And Unusual Prewar Steiff Sealyham Dog

Pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable! Today's Steiff find really takes sitting down on the job to a new level - in the best way possible. Check out this remarkable sitting Sealyham and see what makes him so interesting from the design and historical perspectives.

Let's paws and check out sitting Sealy's details.  This white wonder is 22 cm tall, head jointed, and made from very long white mohair, which has mellowed to a vanilla color. He has three black claws on each of his padless paws, and a pert little tail. His adorable face comes to life with a fuzzy muzzle, oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, and a black hand embroidered nose and mouth. There is just a trace of pink airbrushing on his mouth, as often seen on Steiff's dogs. His prominent, triangular shaped ears are lined in tan felt. He retains his long trailing "f" button as his Steiff ID. When he left the factory in Giengen he wore a leather collar with a bell; unfortunately these accessories have been lost to time. Sitting Sealy was produced in 8, 10, 14, 17, 22, and 25 cm from 1930 through 1939. 

The Sealyham breed was considered one of the more stylish and desired breeds of the late 1920's and early 1930's. As such, Steiff created several versions of this "it" dog. In addition to this sitting style, Steiff also produced a similar standing model. The standing version came in eight sizes ranging from 8 to 35 cm and appeared from 1930 through 1943. Pre-1943, Steiff made numerous Sealyhams on wheels, a tail turns head version, a few nomotta wool woolen miniature or "woolie" Sealyhams, and a 30 cm Sealyham night dress bag. Sealyhams were produced again immediately after the factory reopened for business in the late 1940's. However, only standing examples were produced. These models, which appeared through 1957, had very minor if any changes in fundamental design from the model launched in 1930.

This Sealyham pattern was introduced during what could only be called Steiff's "dog days." This period began in the mid-1920's with the introduction of the company's "Molly the Puppy" pattern. Molly's 1925 debut proved so popular that she is credited for opening the floodgates to a huge influx of Steiff dog designs, including Sealyhams and their black mohair Scotty "cousins." (If you look at the photo on the left, you can see several similarities between sitting Sealy and Molly, including their identical oversized eyes, gentle expressions, and body positions and general presentations.) Between 1925 and 1938, close to 40 new canine species were noted in the Steiff catalogs. These included the now classic Bully Bulldog, Arco the German Shepherd, and Peky the Pekinese, as well as some lesser-known designs including Cheerio, the laughing dog, Putzi, a caricatured standing dog, and Lord the Great Dane.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this rare and unusual sitting Sealyham has been a welcome respite in your busy day.

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