Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Care To Get Cosy With Steiff's Marvelous Tosi?

Care to noodle a delightful and unusual Poodle? Then look no further than Steiff's midcentury "curly girl" production! During a handful of years in the 1950s, Steiff introduced a number of interesting and specialty Poodles, including Maidy, a few named Snobby, and even a long legged lovely named SnobbyLac. However, one particular model has always caught Steiffgal's eye for her simplicity, authenticity, and relative rarity. Check out this mid-century marvel and see what makes her so noteworthy from the design and product development perspectives.

So let's get cosy with Steiff's lovely Tosi!
Tosi is standing, head jointed, and made from thick, lush, white wool plush. She measures 17 cm tall and 21 cm wide. Her simple, earnest face is detailed with a black glass button nose, brown and black glass pupil eyes, and a black hand embroidered nose. Other Tosi dogs Steiffgal knows of have soulful, almond shaped white, brown, and black eyes. It is her guess that Steiff probably used what eyes they had on hand at the time when producing her. Tosi's coat is in what is referred to as a "Karakul" trim, meaning that it is fluffy but uniformly the same length all over her body. She has a small, pert tail. Sadly, her red leather collar has been lost to time. 

Overall, Tosi was produced in 14, 17, 22, and 28 cm in white or black from 1950 through 1953. Because of her time of manufacturer, her factory original IDs would have included a red-imprinted chest tag and a US Zone tag in her leg seam. Her ear button options could have included a short trailing "f" button, a blank button, a STEIFF all caps button, or even a raised script button. All of these different buttons have been noted on items from the very early 1950s. 

Tosi was Steiff's debut postwar Poodle and her materials and form really reflect her time in the line.
In terms of her fabric - she is made from wool plush. This material, which also appeared in the line on many standard line Steiff animals prewar, is often considered a wartime, transitional, or mohair substitute fabric. It is quite durable, with an old fashioned look and feel to it, and is good for toy making. In this case, given its fluffy, curly, thick consistency, it is a perfect fit for Tosi's Poodle particulars. 

Although she debuted in 1950, Tosi's general presentation is more reflective of the late 1930s and early 1940s Steiff aesthetic.
Products designed and produced during those tough years were often simplified, basic patterns with minimal jointing and as little decoration as possible. Some even had a seemingly "glum" or pensive presentation. All of this was a result of trying to be as efficient with materials, labor, and logistics as possible. Most likely, some of these same constraints were still in place early post war. Nonetheless, Steiff touted Tosi's introduction in its catalogs, even making her a cover girl in 1950. You can see this "glamour" shot here on the left.

Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed dipping your "Toe-si" into the story behind this pretty period Poodle!

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Sending Gigantic Midcentury Teddy Hugs To You!

Steiffgal's got news.
Really big news! Super-humongous news! A brand new cub has joined her hug, and she couldn't be more excited or pleased. But this isn't just any Ted, he's really in a class all to himself. Come learn more about this bouncing bundle of joy and what makes him so interesting from the design and historical perspectives.

This big, beautiful bear is of course a huge Teddy baby. He measures 40 inches or 100 cm tall. He is solidly stuffed with excelsior and weighs a whopping 16 pounds. He is five ways jointed and made from glowing, long shaggy blonde mohair. His inset facial muzzle and the tops of his flat toddler feet are made from shorter matching blonde mohair. His nose and claws are hand embroidered in brown. He has a smiling, open, peach colored felt lined mouth and a touch of tan airbrushing to give his face a bit more definition. The same peach colored felt lines his paw pads. His eyes are oversized, brown and black pupil style. And he wears a blue leather color that is decorated with a bell and 16 raised script style buttons. His working growler is activated by a metal pull string and loop on his back.

The Teddy Baby pattern is a legacy one for Steiff.
It debuted in 1929; pre-World War II, Teddy Baby was made in 9, 12, 13, 15, 20, 22, 25, 30, 35, 38, 40, 45, and 65cm sizes. It is interesting to note that Teddy Baby was one of the very first items Steiff started producing when the factory in Germany opened after the war. Due to limited supplies and logistical complications, he was made in artificial silk plush in 1948. Then, once supplies and operations were back in order, he was produced in blonde or brown mohair in 9, 22, 28, 30, and 40 cm in the identical pattern made before the war. All sizes over 9 cm came with a leather collar with a bell. Teddy Baby remained in the Steiff line from 1949 to 1957, although due to his popularity with collectors, has been replicated many times in numerous limited edition series. Here above you can see a variety of early postwar standard line Teddy baby bears ranging from 9 to 40 cm. 

So... what's the history behind this larger than life version? He's only had one family, so Steiffgal was able to get the entire scoop on him from his original owners. Here's what she learned. This bear was purchased in about 1950 from Macy's on 34th Street in New York City. The woman who Steiffgal purchased this bear from was a little girl at the time and accompanied her father to the store to pick out a special present for her mother. Their mom loved Teddy bears, so of course Steiff would be a perfect fit for this mission. The two walked into Macy's toy department and saw him there... and it was love at first sight! They bought the bear right away for $100 at the time. Today, $100 in 1950 dollars has the buying power of almost $1,100 today! A pretty penny both then and now. Mom loved the bear, and treated him like a prince - bringing him out once a year to add to the family's Christmas celebrations. 

Size defies in a number of ways when it comes to this Ted.
Clearly, he is not from the standard line, which topped out at 65 cm early postwar. Steiff did make a display, or studio sized brown mohair Teddy baby in 60 inches or 150 cm in the mid-1960s. You can see the 1967 catalog page promoting this bear above. And, he's not a "one of a kind" as other almost identical one was sold at auction a few years back. It is Steiffgal's suspicion that this bear in this size may have been produced in very low numbers for "special" or high profile customers around 1950. This was exactly the timing in which Steiff was trying to regain its worldwide distribution, reputation, and visibility right after WWII. As such, it is possible that the company produced these "monumental" sized and styled bears to catch the eye, attention, and wallets of affluent midcentury consumers. And what better place than Macy's in NYC to make that happen!?

Finally, Steiffgal can't emphasize enough the power of a good scrub when it comes to welcoming a new vintage friend into your hug.
Yes, this Ted is GORGEOUS and his original family took extra loving care of him. However, he's been around almost 70 years without a bath... so that's the first thing Steiffgal did when she got him home. Over the course of two hours, he went from totally handsome to POSITIVELY GLOWING with the help of a dozen white washcloths, a light cleaning solution, and lots of elbow grease. You can see his "before" and "after" cleaning photos here on the left.   

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this huge Teddy baby has brought you enormous joy today.

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

Sunday, August 9, 2020

There's Never A Dull Moment When It Comes To Steiff's Wild Boars

Can you be a
 big boar and the life of the party at the same time? Well, yes, definitely if you were made by Steiff! Check out this portly prince - a fine example of Steiff's 1960s era life-sized studio display handiwork - and see what makes him so delightful from the cultural, design, and historical perspectives. 

This happy hog is Steiff's lifelike and accurately proportioned Young Wild Boar. He measures 24 inches wide and 12 inches tall, is unjointed, and standing on all fours. His body is made from longish mohair that has been painted and stenciled in various shades of brown and copper. His mouth is open and lined in felt. He has a felt tipped snout and a long, skinny, twisted mohair tail. His face is detailed brown and black pupil eyes and a few touches of airbrushing. This sweet field and forest friend was produced in this size (cataloged at 35 cm) from 1963-1967. 

One of the things that makes Steiff's production so legendary is the company's ability to create really authentic looking animals at different points in their lifecycles.
This particular example is named Young Boar - and he really looks like his namesake. He was produced alongside an adult boar, who is named Wild Boar. Wild Boar is not just a scaled up version of Young Boar; he has the adult features of this species including a thick brown coat, relatively thin legs and a stocky body, and pronounced tusks. The baby, on the other hand, is most noted for his striped coat as well as more youthful, rounded proportions. You can see the 1967 Steiff Studio display catalog page featuring these two beautiful boars just below. What an impressive family, indeed!

Wild boars have been part of the German culture, cuisine, and ecosystem for centuries.
One even "starred" in The Singing Bone, a German fairy tale published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. However, one did not show up in the Steiff line until 1952 in the form of a 7 cm velvet young boar. This popular pet was produced through 1973. In 1961, Steiff introduced its first mohair wild boar. The smallest version, at 10 cm, was designed as a baby and made from short airbrushed mohair. The 15 and 20 cm versions resembled adults with spiky mohair. All were standing and unjointed. Steiff's early postwar mohair boars remained in the line through the mid-1970s. And making up for lost time, soft plush adult and young wild boars designed for play have appeared almost continuously in the catalog from the early 1970s onward. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on vintage button in ear boars has made you as happy as a pig in muck!

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

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Ray-zing The Profile Of This Spectacular Special Edition Steiff Sun

Here comes the sun! August is known for its hot days and lazy pace - at least around these parts. This final month of the "official" summer season is best celebrated via barbecues, beach visits, and bikinis - if you dare! Perhaps the finest Steiff item ever created to represent the marvelous month of August is a plush sun. He's pictured here on the left, "hanging out" in Steiffgal's front bay window. Take a look at this super star - literally - and see what makes it so interesting from the design and product development perspectives.

This Steiff rarity is one hot ticket indeed. This Steiff sun is unjointed and made from fuzzy yellow plush. His "body" measures about 17 cm in diameter. He has yellow cloth arms and legs. His simple yet very pleasant face comes to life with black button eyes and a black airbrushed nose and mouth.  His Steiff button and ear tag are located on his corona near where his ears would be, if he had any. And his specially branded chest tag is located on his hip. This most unusual Steiff novelty was produced in 17 and 45 cm in 2001 only. You can see his backside pictured here on the left.

This celestial superstar was created as a promotional product for the Baden wine region in Germany. Germany has thirteen official wine producing regions, and Baden is the most southernmost area of the country. The area is warm and sunny and known for its good quality Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc. Baden cover an area of about 400km (240 miles) along the Rhine from Lake Constance to Heidelberg, and includes the Black Forest, as well as the vine-clad terraces of the Kaiserstuhl, a volcanic massif. Steiffgal has visited this terraced area with her father and walked among the vineyards along the river. It was a beautiful and memorable experience. She even rode a luge (like a giant skateboard down a cement lined track) down one of the vineyard slopes toward the river which was a fun and once in a lifetime experience. Here on the you can see some of the terraced Baden vineyards; the photo is from www.vinous.com.

Besides his adorable and unique form, this great promotional item has a distinctive chest tag. You can see this tag here on the left. It is illustrated with a large letter B (for Baden) plus a happy sun holding a glass of white wine. How perfect is that? The German writing on the tag roughly translates to, "Baden wine spoiled by the sun."  

Steiff has a long tradition of creating promotional items for companies, brands, and commercial entities. Beloved vintage rarities of this ilk include Peck the Germ made for the pharmaceutical company Merck; Breuni bear, made for the upscale department store Breuninger, and a wool plush and rubber poodle made for Carl Walther GmbH. However, as far as Steiffgal can tell, this is the first "nonliving" advertising item Steiff has produced - a perfect planet! All others have been animals, insects, bears, characters, or human-esque figures. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this bright and happy advertising item has added a spot of sunshine to your day.
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