Sunday, December 29, 2019

Welcoming 2020 With Hogs and Kisses!

It's time to welcome a new decade with 2020 being just on the horizon. So, how about launching the new year in the best possible - and auspicious - way? Pigs are considered "lucky charms" in Irish, Chinese, and German traditions, among many others. So this moment seems perfect to take a look at this precious pink porker who really knows how to move and groove. She'll undoubtedly put you in a celebratory mood!

This pretty piggy has enormous squeal-appeal. She's just about life-sized compared to a baby piglet, and equally as adorable. Pig is about 9" tall, 16" wide, solidly stuffed with excelsior, and made from soft pink mohair. She is arm and leg jointed. Her lifelike face is detailed with black shoe button eyes, a prominent muzzle, and an inset velvet tipped snout that has been airbrushed with pink nostrils and a mouth. Her pert ears are made entirely from mohair and are dimensional. Her true-to-scale tail is actually in a curly-Q as you would see in a live pig; it is lined in wire and is poseable. This queen of the barnyard retains her small long trailing "f" button as her Steiff ID. This pattern appeared in the line from c.1913-1918.

Jointed pigs are pretty rare in the Steiff line. As far as Steiffgal can tell, this example is just one of two produced prewar - or ever. The first debuted in 1908. This version had a ball jointed neck, as well as jointed arms and limbs. The ball jointed neck enables the head and neck to be twisted and rotated into different lifelike positions. This proprietary movement was invented by Franz Steiff and registered on May 24, 1908 in the German patent office as a "toy animal with movable head." According to company records, this was accomplished by... "attaching a swivel jointed mechanism to the head which was then secured to the body by means of a tube running from the neck to the torso." Steiff used this feature on a few models, including this pig, as well as polar bears, begging poodles, cats, and opossums. This uber-jointed piglet was produced in 14, 17, 22, and 28 cm through 1918 overall. The only one Steiffgal knows of came up for auction in 2018, you can see his listing here.

The pig under discussion here is the second jointed version. Steiffgal suspects that it was produced as a response to economic and marketplace realities of the era.  

*From a supply perspective, it is Steiffgal's best guess that the fully jointed pig with a ball jointed neck was probably pretty expensive to produce - given its complex engineering, unique internal hardware mechanism, and additional manual labor to sew, stuff, and assemble. It was a great product and idea, but somewhat resource intense to bring to life. 

*From the demand perspective, given its time in the line - which considerably overlaps with WWI - Steiffgal also suspects that many consumers did not have alot of extra cash or the inclination to purchase high end toys like this. As such, Steiff most likely simplified elements of their ball jointed pig pattern by removing a big cost/labor element of this design - the neck feature. This reduced the costs for all parties, and made this still-playful pattern a bit more accessible overall.

Pigs really “bring home the bacon” in Germany. There's a German expression, “Ich Habe Schwein Gehabt,” which roughly translates to “I have had pig,” that people say after personally experiencing something lucky or fortunate. This Germanic tradition dates back many centuries of hard times and refers to having enough food to feed a family. If a family had a pig, they were able to eat for a week or more! Today in Germany, pigs made from marzipan are popular holiday time treats and are often given out as little gifts on December 31st to insure luck in the coming year.

Steiffgal thanks you for letting her bend your ear over this fully jointed pig - and happy new year everyone!

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