Saturday, July 30, 2022

The More The Merrier With Steiff's Charming Fox Terriers

Fox Terriers are - and for the most part have always been - one of the most sought after, and prolific breeds in Steiff's kennel club. These energetic and fearless pups have appeared in Steiff's product line since the late 1800s. Here's an overview of their history to explain why they are considered top dogs by so many button-in-ear collectors. (A "real life" one is pictured here on the left for reference; the photo is from Purina.)

Steiff has traditionally taken inspiration for new product introductions from popular cultural trends. Fox Terriers started to gain prominence in the last quarter of the 19th century. In 1876, the Fox Terrier Club of England was established, and in 1885 the American Fox Terrier Club followed suit. Fox Terriers took top honors at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1907, 1908, and 1909. It was clear that this breed captured the hearts and minds of dog fans.

As such, Steiff wasted no time in providing enthusiasts with their versions of these popular pups. Fox Terriers made their first appearance in the Steiff line in 1899, just a handful of years after the company's commercial catalog launch in 1892. The earliest ones were made from felt or velvet. Typical to the period, Steiff's debut Fox Terrier came on metal wheels and was made from felt. Mohair became available on a commercial scale in 1903 and shortly after, mohair Fox Terriers graced the pages of the Steiff catalog. Through the mid-1940s, close to 40 different models were produced in practically all forms, including sitting, standing, and lying toys; woolen miniatures; hand puppets; pincushions; pull toys on wheels; ride-on toys; and waterproof bath toys, among others. The Fox Terrier pictured here on the left is fully jointed and dates from around 1909.

Naming products took on new meaning and importance in the mid-1920s at Steiff. Around 1924, the company started to adapt their product development and marketing strategies to match the carefree, upbeat culture of the "roaring 20s." They updated or launched many new dogs and cats that featured distinctly youthful, playful, and innocent personalities. And they began giving them gentle, childlike names. Prior to that, most dogs and cats were noted generically or as their biological breed. Given their popularity, Fox Terriers were a big part of this strategy. As such, new Fox Terriers introduced in the 1920s and 1930s were named "Ajax," "Spotty," "Foxy, and "Strupp" (pictured here on the left), among others.

Midcentury, Fox Terriers continued to be a blue ribbon breed for Steiff.
They were among the first items produced once the factory was up and running for toy making business in the late 1940s. A Fox Terrier made from artificial silk plush in four sizes ranging from 10 to 29 cm in 1949 lead the pack. The little mohair Fox pictured here on the left measures only 7 cm and was produced around 1949. Starting in the early 1950s, when mohair became available again on a commercial scale, playful Steiff Fox Terriers in a full range of sizes would be produced as stand-alone toys, puppets, and on wheels. Steiff would go on to design and produce over 20 Fox Terrier designs from the late 1940’s onward, and a Fox Terrier of one sort or another has appeared in the line almost continuously to this day.

Perhaps the most popular vintage Steiff Fox Terrier among collectors today is the company's version produced from 1949 - 1975.
He is beloved for his gentle yet authentic appearance as well as his natural charm posing with dolls. This design was called Fox up to 1953 and Foxy from 1954 onwards. He was made in 11 sizes ranging from 7 to 36 cm over time. F
ox/Foxy dogs were standing on all fours and made from white mohair detailed with black and tan airbrushed spots. The smallest versions had felt ears while the larger ones had mohair ears. All had brown and black pupil eyes and a simple hand embroidered nose and mouth. This model was also produced as a pull toy on wooden wheels in 17 and 22 cm from 1949 - 1961, as a ride-on model from 1949 - 1966, and sitting in three sizes ranging from 10 to 17 cm in 1953 - 1955. Collectors may recognize the 8 cm version as the one sold with the Vogue Doll Company's "Ginny" doll as Ginny's pup "Sparky" in 1956. You can see Sparky here on the left; he is wearing his all original plaid jacket and wearing his black leash.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the history of Steiff's popular Fox Terrier breed has been a real crowd pleaser for you.

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