Sunday, August 28, 2022

Who Is This Tall, Dark, And Handsome Steiff Stranger?

Please say "howdy, partner" to this remarkable Steiff rarity! Steiff's turn of last century dolls have always been Steiffgal's passion. So when she got to handle this rarity, things got pretty wild - but in the best way possible. Check out this mustached marvel and see what makes him WAH-HOO good for so many reasons.

Well, hello handsome! This fellow is named Mexican Cowboy. He is 40 cm tall and fully joined. His head and lower arms are made from felt, and the rest of his body is made from a linen-like material. His weathered face is detailed with black button eyes, a black mohair mustache, a little pink highlighting, black painted eyebrows, and a prominent center facial seam. His fabulous black curly hair is an inset wig and is made from mohair. He retains his long trailing "f" button in ear as his Steiff ID. 

Mexican Cowboy is dressed to the nines in his (almost) all factory original outfit.
It includes a red cotton shirt with tan stitching, wide tan mohair chaps with an open back, and really well made black leather boots. His leather belt with silver detailing is replaced, but perfectly scaled to him. He also wore a blue chambray bandana around his neck, but this has been lost to time. This hard working hunk was produced overall in 40, 45, 55, 70, 100, and 150 cm from 1912 through 1921 overall. The largest ones were most certainly made as display dolls, as they would have been too large and heavy for a child to play with. 

Mexican Cowboy is noted in Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment as to be in "national costume" and representing a category called "nation types." 
Steiffgal suspects that he was produced in conjunction with the company's c. 19-teen era Schlopsnies Circus project. This large scale, dynamic, and extremely popular exhibit was designed and executed by Steiff doll freelancer Albert Schlopsnies. It consisted of over 30 circus themed dolls and acrobats, based on real life performers at the world famous Circus Sarrasani of Dresden, Germany. This amazing display garnered a worldwide following and certainly helped in elevating Steiff's dollmaking reputation to global status. 

One of the elements that made the Circus Sarrasani so popular, and unique, was its roster of international talent.
 Original posters, broadsides, photos, and other promotional ephemera from the Circus Sarrasani spotlighted ethnic performers in native costumes, including South American Cowboys, Asian gymnasts, and American Indians, among many others. You can see an example of this on the left. This important detail was noted by Schlopsnies, who included authentic versions of these global ambassadors in his Steiff doll interpretation of the Circus. Steiffgal suspects, given the production timeline of the Mexican Cowboy and the Steiff circus project, that he was in fact produced as part of circus project to bring its important "international" angle to life. And, given all that, it is entirely possible that this doll is based on a real life Mexican Cowboy who appeared in the Circus Sarrasani around 1912 or so.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's Mexican Cowboy doll has been a stampede of fun for you!


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

Sunday, August 14, 2022

You'll Be All Ears Over This Tiny Prewar Steiff Fox Terrier!

Size defies with this couldn't-be-cuter baby Steiff pup!
Steiffgal has a thing for smaller scaled Steiff pets, like cats and dogs. Probably because they pose so well with other larger Teddy bear and doll companions. And you can never have enough friends - especially these days! Check out this happy handful and see what makes him so irresistible and interesting from several perspectives!

What we have here is Steiff's late 1920s era Foxy Fox Terrier.
He is 10 cm tall, standing, head jointed, and made from white mohair. He has very distinctive jet black mohair ears. His face comes to life with proportional brown and black glass pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and black and orange airbrushing around one eye. He also has traces of black airbrushed highlights around the base of his tail. He wears a red collar, but it is not original to him. This darling design was produced in 10, 14, 17, 20, and 22 cm from 1929-1933 overall.

This pup's IDs are very helpful in dating him.
Foxy retains his somewhat rare brass colored trailing "f" button and traces of his yellow ear tag as his IDs. This brass button appeared on some Steiff items from around 1933/34 through 1943. The yellow ear tag debuted on Steiff items starting in the early 1930s. Given all this, it is Steiffgal's best guess that this Foxy pup was "born" at the very end of his production timeline.

This fine Foxy was made at a transitional period in Steiff's product development history.
It is interesting to note that just prior to his introduction in 1929, Steiff debuted another Fox Terrier named Foxy in 1928. 
You can see this Foxy from 1928 in the photo here on the left; the image is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment. The 1928 Foxy design really reflected the playful and optimistic aesthetic of the "roaring 1920s." Like many of the new design introductions of the mid to late 1920s, the 1928 Foxy was very youthful, soft, and playful in design. He had chubby proportions, a round head, oversized eyes placed low on his broad forehead, and a silly felt tongue. He also had distinctive black mohair ears. This "roaring 20s" inspired design was produced sitting and standing through 1933.

Around 1930, Steiff's product design priorities started to take an entirely different direction than those of the 1920s.
Items distributed through the early 1940s tended to be more streamlined, serious, lifelike, and proportional. This probably had something to do with the socio-economic and political realities happening in Germany at the time. The 1929 Foxy under discussion today shares some of the characteristics of his 1928 relative, but is scaled to real life, has smaller eyes, a leaner head shape, and is a bit more pensive in appearance. What a difference a year makes!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this petite prince has been a regal learning experience for you.

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

Thursday, August 11, 2022

This Steiff Primate Makes For One Fantastic Tale Of A Tail!

Now we are truly on a roll!
Steiffgal recently returned from a trip to St. Louis, MO to celebrate all things dolls, bears, and toys at the 2022 United Federation of Doll Clubs annual event. The salesroom associated with this gathering always has some of the finest Steiff temptations on offer - and this year did not disappoint! Check out this charming and unusual Steiff primate on wheels Steiffgal found on opening night of the festivities. You'd have to agree - he makes for one heck of a souvenir!

This handsome and unusual prewar Steiff sweetie pull toy is "officially" named Record Peter. He is 18 cm and fully jointed. He is made from white mohair. His hands, feet, face, and ears are made from tan colored felt. His pensive face comes to life with green and black glass pupil eyes, a seamed mouth, and light purple-ish and pink colored airbrushed highlights on his nose area and forehead. He rides upon a black metal, four-wheeled cart. The centered wheels are solid wood and painted red. When Record Peter is pulled along, his arms and legs move back and forth vigorously, giving the appearance that he’s working hard to keep his cart moving. When he left the factory in Giengen, Germany about a century ago, he had a pull cord attached to the front of his vehicle. Record Peter retains his long trailing "f" button and traces of his white ear tag as his Steiff IDs.

Prewar, Record Peter appeared in the standard Steiff catalog in 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 cm in deep chocolate brown from 1913-1943 and in white in 18 cm from 1925-1934. He was also produced in a few other "surreal" colors, including blue, yellow, green, red, and black! These hues are so incredibly rare that Steiffgal has only seen photos of them. Given this Peter's ID configuration, it is Steiffgal's best thinking that he was "born" in the very beginning of his manufacturing time frame.

Now let's take a step back and look at one of the features that makes this Record Peter so unusual - in addition to his white mohair. If you study his rear end (and its ok to stare in this case) you will notice he has a tail. Unlike many other standard line tail-less primates produced by Steiff, this model indeed has a long, thin mohair tail. This appendage probably was challenging to manufacture, given its size and shape.

Here on the left, you can see the 1929 catalog page advertising some of the company's primate line for the year.
 You can click on the image to make it bigger. This page has a subtle bit of information that adds some insight to the tail issue. Here, items noted as product category "9" are chimpanzees, while items noted as product category "10" are monkeys or Record Peter items. From the scientific perspective, chimps, gorillas, and orangutans do not have tails – classifying them as "apes." Those primates with a tail are classified as "monkeys." That is why the tail-less brown mohair "Jocko" pattern we know and love is considered a "9". However, it is curious that a white, freestanding mohair primate with a tail on this page is classified as a "9," suggesting it should NOT have a tail. Perhaps something here got lost in translation?

On the way bottom on the right of the catalog page, you can spot the white primate on wheels under discussion today.
 A close-up of him is here on the left. 
You can click on the image to make it bigger. The copy reads, "Record-Peter, Speedaway movement of amusing effect. No clockwork or mechanism to get out of order, simply pull cord. Strong colored wire frame, varnished wood wheels, voice, each in a box." He is also noted as product number 10/318 (10 = a Record Peter, 3 = sitting, and 18 = size in cm); that he weighs .31 kilograms (which was important for shipping and logistics) and that he was packed one to a box.

Steiffgal hopes you've enjoyed this tale of a tail detective story!

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