Sunday, December 17, 2017

This Late 1920's-Era Deer Is A "Reh" Of Sunshine Indeed!

Oh deer! What do we have here? Steiffgal recently had the pleasure of handling a lovely vintage Steiff fawn with the most charming expression and presentation. Check out this fantastic field and forest friend and see what makes her so interesting from the historical and product design evolution perspectives.

This "reh" (German for deer!) of sunshine is Steiff's "Deer." She measures about 28 cm both standing and wide. Deer is unjointed and made from burnt-orange tipped mohair. The insides of her ears and her fanny are made from white mohair. Her hooves are indicated by black airbrushing. Reh's face comes to life with oversized black and brown pupil eyes, a distinctively shaped, hand embroidered nose highlighted with a white stitch, and a tiny red accent to indicate her mouth. She retains her long trailing "F" button and traces of her red ear tag as her Steiff IDs.

So just how old is this darling deer? It is interesting to note that this exact model is not noted in either the Steiff Sortiment reference book or Steiff's catalogs. But, because it is impolite to ask anyone directly about their age, Steiffgal's detective work suggests that she was made in the 1929-1934 time frame. An almost identical deer, albeit on red wooden wheels, is noted in Steiff's records. This model was produced in 28, 35, 43, and 50 cm from 1929 through 1936. Because the model under discussion today has bits of her red ear tag, which was the eartag color through about 1934, this deer is probably no older than 1934. You can see the wheeled version here on the left; the image is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment.
This deer has two key design details that place her at a very interesting place in the deer product development timeline.

Materials. You can't help but notice this deer's wonderful and colorful fabric - a burnt orange tipped mohair. They "heyday" for tipped mohair at Steiff occurred during the mid to late 1920's through the early 1930's. Other well known famous patterns from that era that used this distinctive, playful, and happy fabric included Petsy the Baby Bear (1928 through 1930); Teddy Clown (1926 through 1930); and Fluffy the Cat (1926 through 1943.) Very few items were with tipped mohair were introduced in the line after the 1930's.

Form. This wide-eyed and youthful deer's appearance aligns perfectly with the mid- to late 1920's Steiff aesthetic. Items produced during this time frame were for the most part utterly charming, with a distinctively toddler-esque, feminine, and happy appearance. In the mid-1930's, Steiff updated some of its fawn and roebuck pattens. These new designs were made from tan, airbrushed, mohair; had more shapely legs and bodies; and more realistic and lifelife necks and faces. In addition, their legs were made from velvet instead of mohair. There are several possible reasons for this fabric change. One might be that during the mid- to late 1930's, mohair was becoming more expensive and less available due to political and economic realities. Steiff's mid-1930's-1943 fawn with velvet legs is pictured here on the left; the image is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment.

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on this unusual and appealing Steiff deer has you fawning over Steiff's great late 1920's era items.

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