Saturday, May 28, 2022

Getting Egg-Static Over This Steiff Antique Rabbit Novelty!

There's no question you'll warm up right away to today's blog special guest. Not only is he good looking, he's also great at what he does. Intrigued? Here's more about this charming - and functional - Steiff rarity.

It's easy to get egg-static over this adorable rabbit egg cozy.
This happy hopper is 11 cm long, unjointed, and made from tan velvet. He is airbrushed with tan and black highlights. He does not have limbs, but the way he is painted it appears that has dimensional back thighs and legs. He comes to life with curled ears, black shoebutton eyes, and a black painted nose. Rabbit's head is very lightly stuffed with kapok. His inside is hollow - like a tent - to keep one boiled egg warm. Steiff also made egg cozies which could hold up to six eggs! 

Rabbit retains his long trailing "f" button and fully legible white ear tag as his IDs. This pattern was made in this size only in velvet from 1908-1927 and in felt from 1921-1927. It is one of the very few egg cozies produced by Steiff in velvet fabric; the vast majority of these warmers were produced in felt - which is probably a better insulator. This particular rabbit egg cozy was most likely produced in the 19-teens. 

Now let's take a closer look at rabbit's 14 carrot ear tag.
The numbers on it are: 77/3436. At first, these numbers were a little confusing, as they do not exactly align with how Steiff usually uses digits on ear tags. In this case, it is Steiffgal's best thinking that the numbers represent the following information: The 77 = the classification number for "egg warmers"; 3 = sitting position; 4 = velvet material; and 36 = the classification number for rabbits. Other early egg cozy items have similar four digit numbers after the "77" egg warmer classification. It appears that their final two digits also refer to the classification number of their species, like ducks, roosters, or hens.

Also of interest are the French words "importe' d'allemagne" on rabbit's white ear tag.
This is pretty unusual and only the second or third time Steiffgal has seen this documented on a Steiff ear tag. It is possible, given the socio-economic and political realities of the WWI era, that European companies were required to specifically note in which countries their products were made. And/or perhaps such labeling was necessary for import, export, or duty purposes and regulations. Isn't it amazing how much information - and mystery - can fit on a tiny slip of paper less than one inch long!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this rare velvet egg cosy has left you jumping for joy.

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

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Hold Everything And Check Out This Unusual Steiff Novelty!

Now for something completely different! Steiff is well known for producing functional novelties for home, school, and work use in addition to the company's plush animal, doll, and bear production. This tradition goes back to the late 1800s, when Margarete Steiff produced and marketed a series of oversized, embroidered felt "pockets" designed as newspaper holders, bed wall bags, duster holder bags, and brush holders, among others. You can see some of these fantastic items here on the left. Today's blog feature, despite its unconventional form and psychedelic hues, has its roots in these early and legacy products.

Hold everything and check out this unusual Steiff "thing-a-ma-bob."
This is the first and only example of this oddity Steiffgal knows of or has handled. It measures 25 cm long and is made of yellow and red knitted fur. These colors reflect Steiff's corporate branding hues of the period. It is unjointed and unstuffed. It comes to life with oversized brown and black pupil eyes, a red fabric nose, red felt ears, and a red mouth. It has a 15 cm red zipper on his back which has a silver pull ring. According to Pfeiffer, this item is identified simply as an "accessory case" and appeared in the line from 1979-1981 in this size only. The case retains its button, eartag, chest tag, and hang tag as its Steiff IDs.

So of course there are two mysteries associated with this item. The first is, what animal is it supposed to be.... and the second is... what exactly is it designed to hold?  Neither has a clear cut answer. 

Let's take a closer look at both questions here. As for its identity, it has the physical qualities of several species. It is long and narrow like a snake or eel. Its round ears and muzzle shape sort of have mouse qualities. And its rear end fin is fish-like. So it would be safe to say that it is a "happy hybrid." And for its functionality, it is Steiffgal's best guess that it might have been proportioned to hold pencils and pens for a school child as a pencil case. However, he could just as easily hold a nail file, makeup, and a comb for an adult as a cosmetics bag. Unfortunately, only he knows for sure - and he's not talking!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this unusual Steiff novelty case has held your attention from start to finish. 

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

Sunday, May 8, 2022

This Prewar Steiff Bear Doll Is Simply Picture Perfect!

This next great Steiff find is dressed for success. Steiff's prewar animal dolls are beloved by collectors but are quite rare - especially in their original clothing. They are among Steiffgal's most favorite button-in-ear novelties of all time, so she was thrilled to welcome this irresistible cub into her collection recently. Check out this handsomely attired example and see why he's just about picture perfect!

Here we have Steiff's a-maiz-ing Puppbaer or Bear Doll. He is 22 cm tall, standing, and head jointed. His arms hang loosely at his sides. His body is solidly stuffed and made from a soft flannel material. His head, in the form of the company's beloved Teddy Baby, is made from shaggy maize and white wool plush. The tops of his hands and flat feet are made from white wool plush. His earnest face comes to life with an open, felt lined mouth, a brown hand embroidered nose, and glass pupil eyes. He wears well fitting red, blue, orange, white, and green plaid calico pants, a long sleeved red cloth shirt, and a blue and white fringed calico scarf. He retains his long trailing "f" button and traces of his red ear tag as his IDs. This design was produced in 14, 22, and 28 cm from 1931-43 overall; Steiffgal suspects this cub was born around 1933-34. 

It is interesting to note that over his 12 year prewar production period, this Teddy Baby bear doll was available in 11 assorted clothing options. These finely tailored outfits included play and sporting outfits, pajamas, dresses, swimsuits, and traditional Germanic attire. This particular example under discussion here is in outfit #7, which is documented simply as, "winter suit, checkered trousers." The scarf is definitely "winter-y", and there's no question his pants are plaid! Outfit #7 was manufactured from 1933 through 1942. 

And just why is this fashion plate "picture perfect?" Check out this page from the company's 1938/39 catalog. On the top of page 40 of this great reference, you can see Bear Doll modeling in the exact outfit as he wears today. In 1938/39 - according to this catalog - he was available in six total outfits and in 22 or 28 cm. 

The approximate translation of this catalog text is...

"Soft body, floppy arms, firm body, plush head, funny clothes in different versions. 

#1 is sports shirt, blue trousers. #2 is blue suit, sand colored apron. #3 is polka dot dress, belt, red cape. #5 is loose salmon red dress. #6 is red and white smocked dress. #7 is winter suit and plaid pants. #8 is green trousers and a red blouse. #9 is a blue patterned dirndl dress. 

Please specify the outfit number and the doll size when ordering this item."

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's Bear Doll has been the best of all worlds for you.

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

Sunday, May 1, 2022

There's No Need To Make A Long Story Short Over This Rare Steiff Rabbit!

Talk about a hare-raising find! A Steiff-loving friend from Europe has just added a super-sized rabbit to their hug, but wants to learn more about it. There's no tall tales when it comes to this distinctive and legacy Steiff design! Bojan from Serbia shares, 

"This time I got this long-legged rabbit, which I got by exchanging for one little Steiff pig. Unfortunately, his left foot is damaged, so if you can give me some advice, what should I do, fix it if possible, or leave him like this? He is filled with some solid material, he is fully jointed and the dimensions (standing) from the top of the head to toe are 50 cm (with raised ears 60 cm). I would say that the button is made of nickel and has a diameter of 8mm. His fur is made of mohair. His eye color is a combination of blue and black and he has an open mouth."

This long and lanky fellow is Steiff's fun and hard to find dangling lulac rabbit in the largest standard size made. This model technically is cataloged at 60 cm tall, is five ways jointed, and is made from caramel and light orange mohair. His hands and feet are made from shaggy mohair. His mouth is open and lined in peach colored felt; his pink nose is hand embroidered. He has blue and black google eyes. These can be twisted and turned about to give the rabbit's face comical expressions. This large sized lulac hare was in the line from 1964-66. Although lulac rabbits are of interest to collectors, this big guy is highly sought after due to his short time in the line. Also charming, but more common, is the smaller version of this fun bun who was made in 43 cm from 1952-74.

Most collectors are familiar with Steiff’s cartoonish “lulac” creatures. These are animals like Bojan's rabbit with exaggeratedly long limbs and torsos. The name "lulac" probably came about through the combination of the German words for laughter, smiling, and lanky - suggesting that this unconventional design was designed to have a goofy appearance and to bring a smile to the face of the owner. You can see one of the rarest midcentury lulac style animals in the form of a zebra here on the left. He is 30 cm tall, made from mohair, and is unjointed. Although the history of this particular black and white beauty is not entirely known, it has been suggested that he was produced as an exclusive for the upscale toy retailer F.A.O. Schwarz in the mid-1950s. The photo is from Steiffgal's personal collection. 

Now let's talk about the big bunny's foot issue; he seems to have lost most of his felt pad over time.
Given the rarity of this item, and how much Bojan clearly likes it, it would be Steiffgal's recommendation to have the pad repaired. For the most part, this fix is pretty simple and not terribly expensive in the hands of a skilled restorer. Sometimes it is challenging to find felt that closely matches the original fabric for the patch given how natural and organic materials age and fade over time. It is just really important that all restoration work is documented, and communicated to potential future buyers, as "all original condition" is important to some collectors. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Bojan's big bunny has been a good learning "hop"-portunity for you!

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