Monday, December 31, 2018

On The Up and Up With This Darling Steiff Strupp

Just try and outfox this Steiff question. Name one of Steiff's most prolific dog breeds. For sure, the company's beloved Dachshunds, Bulldogs, and Boxers come to mind. Also less top of mind to some, but certainly ranking, would be the company's Fox Terriers. Fox Terriers have been around almost as long as the Steiff catalog, which debuted in 1892. Let's take a look at a most unusual pre-war example and see what makes him so interesting from the design and product development perspectives.

Pull up a seat and check out this sitting Strupp dog. He is 17 cm tall, made from white mohair, and is head jointed. He has a few black hand airbrushed spots on his body and back. Strupp has black hand embroidered claws on each of his paws. His earnest face comes to life with oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and prominent, jet-black mohair ears. Sitting Strupp was produced in 17, 22, 28, 35, and 43 cm from 1928 through 1932 overall. It is interesting to note that this model of Strupp was only produced sitting; Steiff often produced their dogs and cats from his era in a number of body positions.

Steiff also manufactured a number of Fox Terriers named Strupp in the 1928 through 1934 time frame. However, they looked really different than the sitting Strupp under discussion here. The standing Strupps of the period had black mohair patches on their bodies, a black ear and a white ear, and tawny airbrushing on their faces. The company also made a grey and white sitting tail turns head Fox Terrier named Strupp, but he really presents much more like the company's traditional Fox Terrier design with a prominent, very long mohair muzzle. You can see this grey and white Strupp pictured here on the left; the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment. So it is Steiffgal's best guess that Strupp might have been a popular name for Fox Terriers at the time, and that is why Steiff called all these different Fox Terrier designs "Strupp."

Now let's paws and consider this Strupp's place on the product development timeline. The first Fox Terrier appeared in the Steiff line in 1899. It was on wheels and made from felt. Since then, Steiff has produced close to 40 different Fox Terrier models pre-WWll and over 20 designs from the late 1940’s onward. As part of the company's strategy to reflect the culture of the "roaring 20s," Steiff updated or launched many new pets that featured distinctly childlike, playful, and innocent personalities. They also started giving their dogs and cats sweet, endearing names - like Molly, Bully, Fluffy, and Foxy; previous to that, most were simply noted as their biological breed. Fox Terriers were a big part of this strategy, with other models including "Ajax," Spotty," and "Foxy." A lovely, rare pre-war wool plush lying Fox Terrier is pictured above; it is from our dear friend and fellow Steiff enthusiast Daniel Agnew. 

And just what makes a Fox Terrier, well, a Fox Terrier? As his name suggests, this dog was bred to assist in fox hunting. Besides breed size and appearance standards, they have to be able to perform three key hunting tasks. First, they have to have the endurance to keep up with foxhounds, who lead the hunt. Second, they have to be small enough follow foxes down into their holes during the chase. And third, they have to be feisty when they do indeed encounter a cornered fox.

Steiffgal hopes you've enjoyed this discussion on Steiff's very rare Strupp pup!

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

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Going Ape Over Steiff's Unusual 20th Century Chimps

It's no secret that Steiffgal is completely bananas over Steiff's delightful and ever-happy Jocko the chimp. This marvelous monkey pattern has been in Steiff's catalog since 1909, and was given his “official” Steiff name, Jocko, in 1929. Over the years since his introduction, Jocko has been produced in sizes ranging from 10 cm to a whopping 150 cm, as well as a pull toy on wheels, a somersaulting chimp, a stringed marionette, a hand puppet and even a child’s handbag, among other treasured items.

Because the Jocko design has been around for more than a century, and its pattern is somewhat complex, it is not unusual to see slight variations on it over time. This may mean finding one in a color that is a little different from the standard brown or white versions, one is a fabric that is not traditional mohair, one that may have a distinctive expression or detailing, or even one in an unexpected size. Here are four of Steiffgal's favorite smaller first and second quarter 20th century Jockos; each one is special in his own way. All are 25 cm and fully jointed unless noted otherwise. Which of these fab four is your favorite?

1. Mystery Jocko
This first Jocko stands out aesthetically in several ways. First, Steiffgal has never seen his particular woolen fabric on any other Steiff item. It is very short, extremely dense, somewhat prickly, and an intense, lush brown - like dark chocolate or roasted coffee beans. Also unusual is his assembly; he has a slightly-to-the-left seam up his back shaped like the letter "J." Finally, his scale is chunky and his body is rather "V" shaped; broad shoulders tapering down to smallish hips. Traditional Jockos have more "H" shaped trunks from top to bottom. This peculiar primate retains his long trailing "f" Steiff button, very roughly dating him in the c. 1909 to 1936 time frame.

2. Work of Art Jocko
What makes this Jocko so eye catching is his amazing head detailing and coloration. His face is detailed with green and black glass pupil eyes set in eye pockets and a fuzzy white mohair chin. Jocko's face and ears truly come to life with delightful grey, pink, and black paint and airbrushing. He actually looks alive, and that he is making eye contact with you in real life! Work of Art Jocko has a distinctly innocent, childlike look to him that is rather precious and endearing. Prewar, Steiff made white Jockos in six sizes ranging from 10 to 25 cm from 1925 through 1943. 
Given his short trailing "f" button, Work of Art Jocko was most likely born in the late 1930s.

3. Oh Baby Jocko
This childlike chimp makes this exclusive list for his interesting ID - although his absolutely irresistible childlike expression is also a big plus! When Steiff resumed its toymaking business after the conclusion of WWII, most of its early production focused on pre-war best sellers. Of course, Jocko made this cut easily! Oh Baby Jocko has a very rare blank ear button as his ID, as well as a canvas "made in the US Zone" tag sewn into his leg seam. The company's early postwar blank buttons are quite rare and add tremendous collector and historical interest to any mid-century Steiff treasure. As suspected, Baby Jocko's IDs dates his departure from the Steiff factory around 1950, give or take a year or two. 

4. Ginger Prince Jocko
Unlike the other special Jockos noted above, this future king of the jungle Jocko measures 15 cm tall. He has a short trailing "f" button, most likely dating him to the late 1930s. You can't help but notice his AMAZING orange mohair. His fabric is backed in a light orange color, while the mohair strands are a lovely, deep orange color. He has faded a touch, but it is clear that he was "born" a glorious and unique (at least to Jockos) color. It is possible that Ginger Prince Jocko is distantly "related" to another preferred primate, Steiff's Mimocculo Orangutan, as they are both made from brilliant orange mohair. However, given that Steiff produced their smaller, non-eye moving Mimocculos only through 1933, that Mimocculo had a more elaborate facial construction, and that Ginger Prince Jocko most likely dates from the late 1930s... the two are more likely second or third cousins than brothers in this case!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on interesting 20th century Steiff Jockos has been more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

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

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Jumping For Joy Over This Early Steiff Rabbit With A Secret

Most collectors are all ears to learn more about a new Steiff find. So this one should get your nose twitching for sure! Check out this recent find from the recent London International Antique Doll, Teddy Bear, and Toy Fair. He's one hoppy handful indeed!

There's not a hare out of place with this sweet baby bunny. He measures 8 cm tall by 15 cm long. He is sitting, unjointed, and made from a soft white plush material called lamb's wool plush. This material has a short but "lumpy-bumpy" surface to it, like a real lamb. His ears are lined in pink velvet. His face comes to life with red felt backed black button eyes and a simple pink hand embroidered nose and mouth. He retains a few of his original clear mono filament whiskers. His red ribbon is perfect for him but not original; his original accessories included a light blue ribbon and a little bell. Rabbit retains his original long trailing 'f" button as his Steiff ID. He was produced in 8, 10, 12, 14, 17, and 22 cm from 1901-1924 overall.

Does this little guy have a familiar ring to him? Yes, for two reasons... one obvious, and one not so much.

The first is that his pattern is a legacy and very early one for Steiff. It was produced from the late 1800's onward in felt, velvet, and this lamb's wool plush. Like many of the company's initial designs, it is somewhat primitive (in the best way possible) with simple lines and a basic form. 

The second is that this rabbit is actually also a rattle. He has a noisemaker placed within his torso; this makes a distinctly "tinkle-tinkle" sound when he is shaken about. Of course, this is music to Steiffgal's ears! Steiff sometimes produced the smallest, or almost smallest, versions of popular items from the first quarter of the 20th century as rattles. Steiffgal has handled rattle bears, squirrels, dogs, cats, and now this rabbit - all discovered by serendipity! As far as Steiffgal knows, there is no reference book that lists what Steiff animals were made as rattles. So always gently shake a small, early Steiff find - you just might find it holds a playful secret!  The picture on the left is from Pfeiffer's Sortiment 1892-1943 and shows what this fun bun looked like when he left the factory in Germany a century or so ago. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this early rattle rabbit has you jumping for joy.

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

Sunday, December 2, 2018

It's Hard Not To Gloat Over This Marvelous Steiff Goat!

This next Steiff find is one barn burner indeed! Check out this sweet farmyard friend that Steiffgal recently added to her Steiff herd. His adorable presentation and personality can't help but get your goat!

Here we have Steiff's late 1920s-era Ziege or goat. He is standing, unjointed, and made from tan mohair. He has brown airbrushed spots all over his body and back. His back legs are particularly shapely, with well defined bends in his "knees." He has a pert tail and large, almost triangular shaped ears. His face comes to life with green-teal and black glass slit pupil eyes (the same ones used on Steiff's felines of the same production era), black hand embroidered nostrils and mouth, and a touch of red highlighting on his snout. He has a non-working side squeaker in his belly.  This great goat was made in 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1928-1932; this is the smallest, or 17 cm version. 

Now let's bleat about Steiff's wonderful legacy of producing goats. They have appeared in the Steiff catalog in one form or another almost continuously since the very late 1800's. Like most of Steiff's output, the earliest were made from felt or early plush materials. The first mohair goat debuted in 1906, just three years after mohair became available on a commercial scale in 1903. These were fully jointed and produced in either white or white and black in four sizes ranging from 22 to 43 cm (measured vertically from head to toe.) Other models - including those on regular or eccentric wheels, pram and pull toys, tail moves head versions, and riding goats - appeared through the early 1940s. The company's most famous postwar model, Zicky, was introduced in 1952. He was made freestanding in 5 sizes ranging from 10 to 35 cm through 1972, as well as on eccentric wheels in 14 cm from 1953-1957 and lying down in 10 and 14 cm from 1954-1956.

Two prewar models that are certain to have collectors act the giddy goat are a handsome wool plush 28 cm model with prominent felt horns from 1938-1942 and a palm-sized woolen miniature goat which was made in 10 or 17 cm from 1935-1939. The woolen miniature version is pictured here on the left and the photo is from Gunther Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment book. There's no mistaking his goat-like qualities, given his great eyes and perfectly proportioned ears. Isn't it amazing how many "goaty" details Steiff was able to squeeze into such a petite treat?

Taking a page from history, here on the left you can see how goats were presented in the 1929 Steiff catalog - including the one under discussion here today. It is interesting to note that they share real estate with the company's handsome tigers. This is because the catalog presents the range by series number, with tigers being 70 and goats being 74. Series numbers appear to have been assigned to the "type" or grouping an animal falls into, as well as where it may fall in alphabetical order. This playful picture is from Carsten Esser's Steiff Katalog 1920-1929. You can click on the photo to enlarge it for better viewing.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this beautiful pre-war Billy has helped you separate the sheep from the goats.

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