Saturday, August 28, 2021

This Pretty, Prewar, And Purple Steiff Princess Rains Supreme!!

WARNING! You are about to get all out joint over today's blog special guest!
This pretty kitty has just about everything going for her, including her looks, color, era, and "secret skill." Check out this fine feline and see what makes her so fabulous from the design and collector's perspective. 

This (now) purple kitten rains supreme. Here we have Steiff's fully jointed "Kitty." She is 15 cm tall and 21cm wide, not including her impressive tail. She is made from blue/black tipped mohair that has faded overall and evenly to a delightful, dark purple hue. Her underbelly, ears, muzzle, feet, and the tip of her tail are made from white mohair. Her face comes to life with a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth and teal green and black slit pupil eyes. Kitty was produced in 15, 18, 21, and 23 cm from 1931-1935. This example retains her long trailing "f" button as her Steiff ID. 

But wait, there's more!
Kitty's long tail is functional as well as aesthetic. This model is actually a tail turns head model, meaning that when her tail is rotated in a circle, her head follows in tandem. This technology was patented by the Steiff company in the early 1930s and basically consists a system that connects the head and the tail through a series of internal metal connectors and joints. 

Head jointed animals were an important part of the Steiff line in the early 1930s. Over time, about 25 different tail turns head models were produced through the very early 1940s. For the most part, these were based on the best selling standard line patterns of the time and included cats, dogs, rabbits, penguins, goats, and lambs, and even Mickey Mouse, among others. However, as far as Steiffgal can tell, this Kitty was one of the few tail moves head items that was only made as a tail moves head animal and not produced in any other form. It is interesting to note that she is neither pictured or mentioned in Steiff's 1931 novelty catalog where many of the other tail moves head animals debuted. 

Now, let's use some colorful language to describe her hue.
Today, Kitty is a marvelous shade of deep purple. But she did not start out life that way. According to Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment, this model was produced in "blue/black tipped" mohair. But it has clearly mellowed to a pretty purple color over time. Another wonderful novelty produced with "blue/black" mohair at about the same time as Kitty was Steiff's King Peng penguin. You can see and example of a King Peng here on the left, the photo is from Christies. Today, when you find a King Peng, often his once blue/black mohair has become a similar purple color as Kitty's. As such, Steiffgal suspects that Steiff's 1930-era blue/black mohair was produced with a dye or dyes that oxidized or somehow had a chemical reaction with air or moisture over time. If this color change was due to something simple like direct sunlight, the change would not be so even or so consistent.

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on this pretty purple princess has crowned your day.

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

Sunday, August 22, 2021

This Dressed Steiff Rabbit Doll Is The Best Of Both Worlds!

Overall, this next fantastic find is certain to put a joyful spring in your step! Steiffgal found this bitty bun in the recent United Federation of Doll Club's salesroom - lying upside down and backwards in a case piled full of mohair and treasures. All she could see was one very large foot with red claw stitching... and the rest is history. Come take a look at this dolly-delightful bun and see what makes him so interesting from the design and collector's perspectives.

This happy hopper measures 17 cm (without his ears), is begging, and head jointed. He originally was covered in white and tan mohair - but not a hare/hair remains on him! He is detailed with extra long, skinny feet, a tiny pert tail, and oversized ears. His face comes to life with big brown and black glass pupil eyes, a typical 1920s era style hand embroidered nose and mouth, and traces of once brown airbrushed highlights. He dons his original and totally adorable blue cloth overalls. He retains his long trailing "f" button and traces of his red ear tag as his Steiff IDs.

This seldom seen pattern appeared in the line from 1929-1932 overall in 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm. Steiff's rabbits are measured without their ears, so they actually are a little larger in real life than these measurements suggest. This model was produced in one of six documented outfits. According to Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment, these included a blue playsuit, a red skirt and white apron, a purple jacket, a red skit and purple jacket, a red and white dress, or a pink dress. This example under discussion here is the one in a blue playsuit - which is detailed with tiny faux front pockets, contrasting tan colored stitching, back black snaps, and a perfect opening for his pert tail. It is interesting to note that this pattern is considered a "doll" in terms of his category - most likely because of his toddler-esque shape, standing form, and the fact that he is dressed. 

This guy is really shy - and seldom if ever appears in public! Despite being launched in 1929, as far as Steiffgal can tell, an example does not appear in the company's primary catalog of that year. The only other one Steiffgal is aware of is one that was sold at Christies in 2010. That particular example was cataloged as, "A STEIFF DRESSED BOY RABBIT, (4317,61), light brown and white mohair, brown and black glass eyes, pink and red stitching, whiskers, swivel head, inoperative squeaker, blue dungarees and FF button with red cloth tag, circa 1930 --6¼in. (16cm.) (some slight fading)." It was estimated at GBP 1,000 - GBP 1,500 and realized GBP 1,375. You can see that listing here on the left, the image is from Christies. You can click on it to make it bigger.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of this rare and usual animal doll has been the best of both worlds for you.

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

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Hold Everything And Check Out This Unusual Steiff Poodle PJ Bag!

Care to noodle a most mysterious poodle? Then check out this delightful Steiff Snobby - in the form of a pajama bag! This mohair marvel appeared out of nowhere on an online auction, and Steiffgal had no idea this pattern even existed. She studied her listing closely, first suspecting she was "mommy made" or even a "Frankenstein" item - made of bits and pieces of other items sewn together to make a "new" item. But a careful check of the photos detailing her construction and materials - including her zipper pull, belly lining, and seaming - confirmed she truly was all original. Cue the happy dance!

This nifty napper measures about 23 inches long, is lying flat on her belly, and unjointed. She is in the form of Steiff's legacy, mid-1950s Snobby poodle. Her arms, legs, beard and forehead are made from very long, soft grey mohair while her body, feet, tail, ears, and face are made from shorter matching grey mohair. Her face is detailed with lovely tricolored glass pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and a round, red felt tongue. On her belly, she has a long, silver colored zipper; when you pull it open, her hollow belly is lined in a lovely grey colored silken material. This pajama bag retains its raised script button in ear as its Steiff ID. She is in great, clean condition with little or no playwear to her at all. 

Pajama bag Snobby is clearly part of the Steiff Snobby poodle family tree.
This classic Snobby pattern made its debut in 1953 as a full bodied, standing pup and appeared in the line through 1974 in 10, 14, 22, 35, and 43 cm. The design proved so popular that it was soon being produced in a number of novelties, including a riding toy, a puppet, and as a soft, curled up resting animal, among others However, Steiffgal cannot find reference anywhere to a standard line Steiff Snobby pajama bag.

However, there is precedence for sleepers like this.
Steiff produced a fantastic, beautifully rendered mohair pajama bag as an exclusive for F.A.O. Schwarz from 1962 - 1972 in the form of a walrus. Like this Snobby, the walrus also has an identical zipper down its belly and a silk lined interior. And Steiffgal has a similarly constructed and also undocumented large black and white mohair Cockie Cocker Spaniel pajama bag, as well as a mohair lying tiger pajama bag. She does know through the original owner of the Cockie bag that he was purchased at F.A.O Schwarz as well in the late 1960s or early 1970s. This hints that Pajama bag Snobby might have been produced in a very small edition size for F.A.O. Schwarz, or another upscale toy retailer, during this time frame as well.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this Steiff Snobby pajama bag has added a little zip to your day.

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

Saturday, August 7, 2021

This Rare Midcentury Steiff Cat Is Certain To Tickle Your Whiskers!

Here's a sweet Steiff rarity that walked in - and quickly walked out - on little cat's feet! This early postwar kitten just appeared in the line for a handful of years in the early 1950s, and has seldom made an appearance on the secondary market or in images since then. Check out this fabulous feline and see what makes her so interesting from the design and product development perspectives. 

This leisurely lovely is simply cataloged as "Cat." She is lying, head jointed, and measures c. 27 cm wide and c. 14 cm tall. She is made from very long, soft mohair which has some grey airbrushed highlights to it in all the right cat places. She has red hand embroidered claws on each foot. Her face comes to life with pert felt lined ears, a shorter mohair muzzle area, green and black slit pupil eyes, a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth, and clear monofilament whiskers. She retains her now faded blue silken ribbon. Her squeaker works, sometimes. As for IDs, she has her script style Steiff button, traces of her yellow ear tag, and her US Zone tag. This rarity was made in this size only from 1952-1953, technically in 22 cm. She has a lovely, old fashioned look to her. 

According to the Sortiment books, her article number is 2322,1. This translates to: 2=lying, 3=mohair, 22=22 cm, and ,1=squeaker... so everything aligns here!

A picture is worth a thousand words, and here is one of the very few photos Steiffgal could find in regards to this cat. Here on the left, you can see page 5 from Steiff's "Neuheiten 52" or "New Hits for 1952" catalog. Please click on the photo to make it bigger. Cat is pictured among Steiff's now legacy early wool plush Snobby poodles, a 17 cm wool plush camel, and a pair of Gussy cats. As the title of the catalog suggests, all of these specific items "debuted" in 1952. It is interesting to note that several of these newbies are made in wool plush, a substitute material mostly used just before and just after World War II. It is possible that in 1952, both the mohair supply and the ability to manufacture this premier toy making fabric were still not back to full capacity. Perhaps Steiff did what they have always done best in adverse situations - make lemonade out of lemons. In this case, they produced a number of wool plush items that really "popped" in this distinctive, readily available fabric. 

Now back to this pretty kitty. Why did she disappear in just a two year timeframe? It is interesting to note that in 1955, Steiff introduced their beloved lying "Fiffy" cat. This little love would go on to be produced in 12, 17, and 25 cm though 1962. Fiffy was head jointed and made from white mohair that was hand-airbrushed with black stripes. Like the cat under discussion here today, her little tail wrapped around her rear, and she came to life with green and black slit pupil eyes, a pink embroidered nose, mouth, claws, and clear monofilament whiskers. It is Steiffgal's best guess that Fiffy became Steiff's midcentury lying cat of choice based on a few factors. It is possible that Fiffy was faster and easier to manufacture, required less expensive materials, and had a more "updated," modern aesthetic than did the company's 1952-1953 lying cat. 

Steiffgal hopes this story about this rare mid-century cat really tickled your whiskers. 

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

The teddy bear search engine