Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Steiff Penguin of Royal Stature!

They say it's not easy being green. But Steiffgal has to disagree, at least in this particular case! A special little someone just waddled his way into her collection, and she couldn't be more excited. Check out this colorful creation and see what makes him so outstanding from the historical and product development perspectives.

Bird's the word with his stunning Steiff King Peng penguin. He stands all of 15 cm and is made from white, green, and orange tipped mohair. His beak is double thick orange felt, and his chubby wings and feet are made from orange velvet. His wings have black hand drawn lines on them. His childlike face is detailed with black and brown glass pupil eyes. Larger versions had cartoon eyes backed in felt. This model is a tail moves head example, meaning that when his tiny green mohair covered metal tail is twisted left and right, his head moves in unison. His long trailing "f" Steiff button is located on the bottom of one of his velvet feet. This polar pal was made in 15, 18, 23, 29, and 36 cm from 1931-1935 overall. He was also produced in the same sizes in a slightly different color combination, with blue/black mohair in the place of the green mohair seen on this example.

Tail moves head editions were amongst Steiff's headliners of the early 1930s. They were produced as a result of the company's emphasis on producing fun, exciting, and endearing novelty items as a way to further capture the pocketbooks - and hearts - of Steiff enthusiasts worldwide. Overall, about 25 different tail turns head models were produced through the late 1930's and very early 1940's. These were advertised as...

"The year 1931 has presented us with the animals with the new head movement… The simplicity of the mechanism, though which the splendid movement is produced, cannot be beaten, yet it is unbreakable and allows lifelike play, full of variety and mimics… When buying new supply in plush toys please be sure to include the STEIFF animals with the new head movement; all numbers equipped with it are marked ‘H.’” 

Most of these newfangled tail moves head items were based on the best selling standard line patterns of the time. Recognizable friends included cats, dogs, rabbits, goats, and lambs, and even Mickey Mouse! Although Steiff did have a penguin in the line in the late 1920s and early 1930s, they did not use that pattern for a tail moves head version. King Peng's introduction most likely corresponds to the worldwide news of Richard Byrd's South Pole exploration, where penguins and other cold-weather animals featured prominently in the story. Since its founding, Steiff has always been extremely conscious of animal themed events and cultural trends and has integrated them when possible into its product line and assortments. You can see the advertisement introducing these merry movers here on the left, the photo is from the Cieslik's Button in Ear: The History of the Teddy Bear and His Friends book from 1989.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this Steiff King Peng penguin has been a royal experience for you.

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more!
The teddy bear search engine