Sunday, May 9, 2021

A Penny For Your Thoughts About This Antique Steiff And Kufeke Promotional Postcard

It's always fun to spot vintage Steiff featured in antique advertising, photographs, or other ephemera. While recently browsing eBay listings, Steiffgal found a most adorable prewar mailer featuring one of our all-time favorite Steiff prewar superstars - Bully the Bulldog! Take a look at this period piece - does it motivate you to buy the product on offer?

There's no need to mail it in when it comes to this precious postcard. What we have here is a direct mailer piece for Kufeke, a German company that produced special dietary drinks and supplements for babies and adults with delicate digestive issues. Steiffgal suspects it is from the late 1920s or early 1930s, given the image, its subject matter, and the history of the Kufeke company. There is no date or postage cancellation anywhere on the piece that Steiffgal can positively identify. 

The front of the card features a black and white image of a sitting, glowing, chubby toddler and a Steiff Bully dog. The way the child is leaning towards the dog, along with his body language, makes you feel that he is actually chatting with Bully. The pup is sitting, head tilted, and listening intently. You can make out his dark horsehair collar and bell detailing. The Bully pictured is probably the black and white version, and most likely measures 35 or 43 cm, given the scale of everything in the photo. The postcard's caption translates to, "Do you drink Kufeke, too?"... suggesting that this baby beverage gives both the Bully and the Baby their robust and healthy appearances and charming good looks! Other prewar advertising pieces from Kufeke also feature beaming, healthy children but this is the only one that Steiffgal was able to find that also included a button-in-ear friend. 

Bully the Bulldog is a legacy design for Steiff.
He was introduced in 1927 and was an instant sensation with both children (as a plaything) and adults (as a collectible and an accessory). He was modeled on the French Bulldog—the “it” companion of those in the know all across Europe at the time. Bullies were head jointed, had large brown and black glass pupil eyes, a hand-embroidered black nose, and a simple snout and jaw constructed to give him his requisite jowls. Most were black and white or orange and white, but a rare blue-and-white version was also produced. Bully was made in velvet and mohair, as well as sitting and standing, in sizes ranging from 10 to 50 cm. Most Bullies came detailed with a horsehair ruff or leather collar. The original Bully appeared in the Steiff catalog through 1939; today, this precious pooch is one of the most universally desirable and sought-after pre-war Steiff designs among collectors. The picture on the left is a Bully from Steiffgal's personal collection. 

On the flip side, the back of this postcard mailer also is interesting for what it highlights.
Boldly noted on the reverse are the words, "das Beste fur ihr kind." This translates to “the best for your child,” meaning that the Kufeke company believed that its product was the premier dietary supplement for children. This, of course, is remarkably similar to the Steiff tagline of “only the best for children.” Steiffgal wonders if Kufeke was trying to piggyback on Steiff's outstanding, world class reputation in words (with this marketing claim) and in images (by featuring Bully in this photo) in this business development effort. It would be interesting to know if folks at Steiff were aware of this postcard and promotional outreach at the time, and if the company received any compensation for this "association." If we could only turn back time to answer such questions!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff prewar product placement has been picture perfect for you.

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