Monday, May 3, 2021

Pipe Up If You Know The Maker Of This Turn Of Last Century Cloth Doll!

Close, but no cigar. Or pipe in this case! Is this distinguished gentleman doll made by Steiff? Apparently someone thought so, a very long time ago. Come take a look at this handsome, turn of last century cloth doll and see what makes him so interesting - and cryptic - from the design and historical perspectives.

Well hello, handsome! This doll stands about 37 cm tall, is excelsior stuffed, and is fully jointed. His head is disk jointed with cardboard and metal joints, his arms are loosely rod jointed, and his legs are string jointed. His head, hands, and feet/shoes are made from felt. His torso and limbs are made from linen. He is dressed to the nines in a felt buttoned jacket; a brown, tan, and purple fabric vest with purple gemstone buttons; tan, brown, and grey calico pants; a brown silk bowtie; and black felt shoes. His face comes to life with a prominent horizontal facial seam; a fringe of brown hair and facial hair; dimensional black button eyes underlaid with felt circles; a simple seamed mouth; pink highlighting; and of course, his great wood and composition pipe.

Upon closer look, it turns out this fine fellow comes with a little information written upon one of his legs.
It reads, "Der Dutchman by Margaret Steiff #630 circa 1900." Although this doll is clearly misidentified as Steiff, it is understandable that someone may have assumed he was, given his prominent facial seam, general appearance, and turn of last century origins. He also has some Steiff "Karikaturpuppen" (i.e., early, cartoon-like) elements to him, including an oversized head with exaggerated features and simple hands and feet. However, Steiff's earliest dolls debuted in 1903, were string jointed, were made of felt and/or velvet, and had clothing integral to their bodies. Steiff usually used linen or other less expensive fabric like muslin on their dolls during times of economic and supply chain hardships, like just before, during, and after World War I. And their Dutch dolls almost always wore removable clogs rendered from felt or wood. 

Now let's light a fire under one of this doll's most intriguing features - his pipe.
It is removable and fits perfectly into a little hole in his face. This construction is also not typical to Steiff. And Steiffgal suspects that if Steiff made a doll pipe, it would have been hand carved entirely from wood. The only "smoking" doll Steiffgal can think of is the company's incredibly rare "Adamson" Swedish cartoon character doll produced between 1925 and 1929. In this case, the doll's felt cigar was sewn directly onto his face. You can see Adamson here on the left, the photo is from

So just who is this silly smoker?
Steiffgal has combed the literature and cannot identify him. She's also asked others who are equally stumped. So his origins remain a mystery for now. What Steiffgal does know about him is that he previously belonged to her dear friend who recently gained her wings. This doll now sits on Steiffgal's desk, right near her computer, and "supervises" her daily... or in this case, reminds her of a beloved soul who passed way too soon, and unexpectedly.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this early cloth doll has suited you well. 

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