Saturday, December 25, 2021

Care To Feather Your Steiff Nest With This Grand Goose On Wheels?

This fine feathered Steiff friend is certain to give you goosebumps! Bird's the word when it comes to this adorable goose on wheels. She's flown a little under the radar relative to other birds in the Steiff line, but has a most impressive history worth a honk - or two! Check out her story below. 

This gorgeous goose is 17 cm tall and 23 cm wide. She is lying on her belly and is made from white mohair. Her neck and head are airbrushed with a touch of grey. Her wings are splayed outward, in a most realistic and playful way. Her feet and legs are made from single thick orange felt. Her face comes to life with black button eyes backed in red felt and a proportionally large and dimensional orange felt beak. She rests on a metal carriage and glides along on four green wooden eccentric wheels. When she moves, her back axle activates a squeaker in her belly.  Goose on the go was made postwar in 17 cm from 1949-1964.

This timeless pattern must also have been an unassuming best seller for Steiff.
That is because it appeared both in the prewar and postwar period. Interestingly, it does not seem that this goose model was ever made without wheels. Prewar, it was made in 14 and 17 cm from 1914-1943. It is really likely that the pattern was updated just a bit in the 1914-1943 time frame - given how aesthetics, economics, and manufacturing realities evolved so quickly during that nearly three decade long period of production. Nonetheless, technically this goose on wheels was noted in every Steiff catalog published for a stretch of 50 years! This longevity is right up there with the company's legacy Molly the puppy (1925 - 1969, about 44 years overall), Waldi the Doxi (1933 - 1980, about 47 years overall) and Susi the cat (1936 - 1978, about 42 years overall.) You can see goose on wheels as she was presented in Steiff's 1929 catalog; the image is from C. Esser's Steiff Kataloge 1920-1929. You can click on the photo to make it larger.

Goose's yellow tag is unusually descriptive in this case and helps to nail down her birthyear.
The words on it include "Steiff Original geschuzt (protected)"; this copy was only used in the late 1940s and very early 1950s. And the numbering is quite telling as well. It reads, 6317,2 ex. This means, 6 = young, 3 = mohair, 17 = 17 cm, ,2 = double press voice, growler, or pull cord voice, and ex = on eccentric wheels. She also has her raised script button but no evidence of a US Zone tag. All of this information suggests that this particular goose on wheels was produced probably around 1952 or 1953.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this timeless toy has made you feel young at heart today.

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

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Moving And Grooving With This Darling, Debut Steiff Doggie!

This next fantastic find is bad to the bone, but in the very best way possible! Check out this sweet baby pup that really knows how to move and groove. This recent addition to Steiffgal's collection arrived via an auction box lot win just a few weeks ago. Steiffgal couldn't be more pleased with him... but just who is this somewhat mysterious canine?

This precious pup is none other than Steiff's first and earliest Spaniel. Many thanks to Steiff super fan, and super friend, Karin Houben for her help in identifying him! He is fully jointed and measures 15 cm tall and 23 cm wide (nose to fanny) - not including his tail. His body, limbs, and muzzle are made from tan mohair, while the sides of his face and floppy ears are made from vibrant cinnamon mohair. He has tan hand embroidered claws. His face comes to life with a trimmed muzzle, proportional black and brown glass pupil eyes, and a hand embroidered brown nose and mouth. His IDs include a tiny long trailing f button and traces of a white ear tag. 

Spaniel appeared in the Steiff line for nearly two decades - a pretty significant time frame in dog years - or even people years. He was produced in 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm from 1908 through 1927 overall. Given this example's IDs, somewhat simple body form, and early facial detailing, Steiffgal suspects he was produced towards the very beginning of this time frame. 

It is interesting to note that this Spaniel design is utterly charming, but somewhat "invisible" in the Steiff line. 
Unlike some other popular and prolific Steiff dogs of his era, this pattern was not repurposed into a novelty like a puppet, roly poly, or pull toy. He does shares a number of design similarities with Steiff's fully jointed black and tan King Charles Spaniel and tan and cinnamon mohair St. Bernhard dogs of the same era. And, like many dog breeds in the line, this Spaniel pattern was dramatically updated and reintroduced in the mid-1920s to reflect a far softer, youthful, and playful aesthetic. You can see Steiff's earliest, fully jointed, brown and white Spaniel pattern as he appeared in the 1924 catalog; he is the dog on the far left pictured right below. Click on the image to make it bigger and easier to read. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's darling, debut Spaniel has been a first of its kind for you!

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

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Jumping For Joy Over This Sample Steiff Frog Find!

Steiffgal's simply jumping for joy with her latest auction find.
A few weeks ago, she spotted this funky frog as part of a lot on an online auction. Something about him really called to her, and she knew she had to have him. Thankfully, the auction gods aligned, and she was able to place the winning bid. After an anxious week of waiting for his international delivery, he finally arrived at her doorstep. Check out this unusual amphibian and what makes him so wonderful from the collector's perspective.

It's easy being green when it comes to this sample frog.
He measures about 8 cm tall and about 10 cm long. His body and thighs are made from green mohair. His mohair is airbrushed with black stripes to add texture and dimension to these areas. His arms, hands, lower legs, and feet are made from double thick, die cut tan felt. They are airbrushed green, and then detailed with black airbrushed stripes and fingernails to bring them to life. His distinctly pouty face features an airbrushed mouth and oversized green and black google style cartoon eyes.

When Steiffgal saw him online, she truly did not recognize his hybrid felt and mohair design.
That is because he was - and is - a sample design. His pattern never went on to be produced on a commercial scale. His most unusual IDs include a brass Steiff button and his sample yellow tag located on his leg. The front of this tag looks just like a regular red and yellow single-thick ribbon style tag with the words "made in Germany by Steiff knopf im ohr" and the Steiff logo. However, on the back, the tag notes in German and English, "not for sale, Handmuster (hand sample) property of Margarete Steiff GmbH." Given his button and tag, he probably was produced within the last two decades.

It's difficult - if not impossible - to figure out why he was designed, whether he was envisioned as a stand-alone or accessory item, and why he never was manufactured on a commercial scale.
He is so appealing that Steiffgal is sorry that the rest of the world cannot enjoy his quirky yet irresistible charms. Perhaps - given his hybrid materials - he was a concept for a lower cost frog design, given that felt is less expensive and easier to transform into a product than mohair? It is possible he might have been designed as a keyring or purse dangler, given his petite proportions. Or maybe as a companion for a lucky princess doll or bear? But only he knows for sure - and his lips are sealed.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this sample frog has been a one of a kind experience for you!

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

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Going Green With This Seasonally Hued Steiff Sweetie

"Tis the season for all things green and red!
As such, the timing is perfect to share a recent addition to Steiffgal's hug with you. 
This seasonally hued sweetie is a bit of a mystery but so charming nonetheless. He was on Steiffgal's wish list for awhile given his rarity and somewhat ephemeral construction. Check out this darling doll and see what makes him the perfect 1970s-era ambassador.  

Here we have Steiff's little known "Buzzel Sepp." 
In Germany, "Sepp" is a nickname for someone with the formal name of Joseph. And "Buzzel" refers to his shape and construction. But more about that in just a bit. In all honesty, Steiffgal is not exactly certain who this guy is or who he may represent. He is not obviously a chimney sweep, farmer, or gnome - Steiff's usual cast of male doll suspects. Perhaps he is a shepherd, as he is pictured with a red plastic staff in some reference books. Unfortunately, Steiffgal's Sepp has lost this accessory. 

Buzzel Sepp is upright and unjointed.
It is not clear if he is standing or sitting as he has no legs. His simple body is made from bright green and white mohair. He rests on a flat bottom. His head is made from a synthetic - probably polyester - fabric. His face comes to life with blue semi-circle felt eyes, a tan circular felt nose, and a long, brown fiber mustache. He is accessorized with a red felt scarf and a green felt hat. His hat has a little daisy on it for decoration. Buzzel Sepp has a working squeaker in his base. This silly guy appeared in the line in this size only from 1972-1974.

It is interesting to note that he is noted in the 1947-2003 Steiff Sortiment as made from dralon but he is clearly made from mohair - at least in this case.

Buzzel Sepp has some distinctive IDs.
His chest tag is Steiff's red and yellow split style version. This chest tag debuted in 1972, aligning perfectly with Sepp's production date. On the back of this tag, it is noted that Sepp cost 19.90 marks. Given that $1 = DM 3.48 in 1972, this would have been about $5.72 in 1972 dollars; $5.72 in 1972 is worth approximately $37.85 in 2021. This doll also has a silver hangtag with the word "formgeschaumt" or "foam molded" on it. That refers to his pre-formed foam stuffing. And because he does not have any ears, his ear tag is located on the seam of his bottom with his lentil style Steiff button embedded into it. You can see this somewhat unusual configuration here on the left.

Steiff's Buzzel items appeared in the line in 1970s.
They were all 20 cm, sat upon a flat bottom, had a squeaker, were stuffed with pre-formed foam, and washable. Other Buzzel models created included a rooster, a rabbit, a cat, and a Santa Claus, among others. These items - except for Sepp and Santa - were simplified versions of popular Steiff designs. Steiffgal suspects the Buzzels were created specifically as less expensive and/or lower end toy line for children given how the word "washable" featured so prominently in their marketing. And, in Steiff's 1972 product catalog, their Buzzel line is noted as, "foam-molded, therefore super soft, really to love for the very little ones." You can see Sepp and his other Buzzel friends as they appeared in this vintage catalog here on the left. Just click on the image to make it bigger. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's quirky Sepp doll has added a joyful buzz to your day.

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