Saturday, October 29, 2022

This Precious Prewar Pug On Wheels Stands And Delivers!

As she continues to celebrate the arrival of her newly adopted sister-pugs, Steiffgal thought it was the perfect moment to share a special button-in ear version of the beloved breed.
Dogs have always been an important design category for Steiff, so it should be no surprise that the first flat-faced cutie was introduced in the Steiff catalog in 1916. Take a look at this very early pug on the go and see what makes him so delightful from the design and product development perspectives.

This happy traveler is 22 cm tall (not including his wheels) and made from grey mohair.
He is standing, unjointed, and solidly stuffed with excelsior. He has black hand embroidered claws on each of his feet. His distinctive face comes to life with proportional brown and black glass pupil eyes (which may be replaced), a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and black lines on his forehead - to give him his breed-specific wrinkled forehead. His pert ears are lined in velvet, and he has a very curly tail. He retains his small trailing "f" button and traces of his white paper ear tag as his Steiff IDs.

Now let's dig deeper into his detailing.
Pug wears a leather collar, which may or may not be original to him, but is appropriate in materials, design, age, and fit. His pull cord has been lost to time. Pug is mounted to two metal rods and rides upon four wooden eccentric wheels. It is interesting to note that this pattern, unlike many other dog patterns, only came on wheels, and was not produced sitting or in any other configuration. Pug on wheels was produced in 17 cm and 22 cm from 1916-1927.

Like many of the Steiff pets debuting in the 19-teens, this perky pug has a proportional and literal design.
The key pug breed elements - a flat muzzle, wrinkled forehead, and a curly tail - are very well represented in his pattern. For the most part, Steiff's dogs, cats, rabbits, and other popular pets introduced in the c. 1910-1920 time frame were not as basic as the company's earliest patterns, but did not have the youthful, often goofy or playful appearances of those items designed in the 1920s through early 1930s. Items from around 1925 onward often featured oversized eyes, brightly colored materials, and rounded faces, bodies, and limbs. As such, Steiff's second pug - introduced in 1925 as its first pug pattern was being phased out - was a truly silly looking sitting pup with exaggerated facial features and a larger than life red felt tongue. He appeared in the line from 1925 - 1927 in 14 cm. He is pictured on the left; the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the company's early Pug on wheels has captured your interested in a round-about sort of way.

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

Monday, October 17, 2022

Care To Go On A Date With This Prewar Steiff Scotty?

It's never appropriate to ask someone how old they are - right? But in this case, this vintage Steiff friend proudly advertises his "birthday" in a very special, and very prominent, way. Intrigued? Then check out this little black Scotty and his amazing and informative chest tag to learn more.

Here we have Steiff's 1930s-era Scotty dog. He is standing on all fours, head jointed, and solidly stuffed with excelsior. He has a non-working side squeaker in his torso. He measures 12 cm tall and 18 cm long, not including his tail. He is made from black mohair, with a longer mohair beard. His pert triangular ears are lined in felt. He comes to life with a black hand embroidered nose and lovely white, black, and brown glass pupil eyes in the shape of almonds. He retains his long trailing "f" button, trace of his red ear tag, and his named chest tag as his IDs. This pattern was made in 8, 10, 14, 17, 22, 25, 28, and 35 cm in grey or black or dark grey from 1930-1943 overall.

Now let's take a closer look at his chest tag.
It is amazing how much information is squeezed onto this tiny piece of cardboard measuring just a pinch more than 1/2" in diameter. The design features Steiff's prewar and angular yellow and blue Teddy bear face. Its center copy reads in red: SCOTTY, D.R. Patent, U.S. Patented Jan. 9, 1932. This means that the Scotty pattern was registered in D.R. - which is short for "Deutsches Reich," the constitutional name for the German nation state that existed from 1871 to 1945. The tag also gives the EXACT date that the design was also patented in the United States - January 9, 1932!

The vast number of Steiff prewar chest tags simply had the bears, animal, or doll's name noted in the center of the label. However, it is interesting to note that in some cases, like this one, that the tag also specifically mentioned that the item's patent protection status in the United States. For example, check out the tags on a 14 cm Molly and a 10 cm Tabby from the 1920s as pictured here on the left. Both have the  on this words, "Reg. U.S. Pat. Off." on their chest tags as well.

Scotty, Tabby, and Molly were extremely popular 1920s-era patterns. So it would be reasonable to assume that the Steiff management team in Germany was concerned about other companies - especially those in America - "stealing" these beloved designs. Steiff's business in the USA was really booming in the mid-1920s through early 1930s, partially due to the efforts of Richard Steiff. He moved to the States in the early 1920s with his family to grow the family business, alongside the company's US distributor, George Borgfeldt & Company. For Steiff to take the time and expense to register their designs with the US Patent Office says suggested that they really meant business when it came to design intellectual property, that they were in the United States market for the long run, and that they wanted to perhaps "American-ize" their line, making it less foreign or exotic, to add to its marketing appeal and potential.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on chest tag details has had patent appeal with you. 

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

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Good Things Come In Threes With This Fabulous Prewar Steiff Duck Chain

It's time to get your ducks in a row and check out this next marvelous Steiff find. It's hard to believe that this family of fine feathered friends was most likely made over a century ago - they appear practically brand new today. Who wouldn't want to feather their Steiff nest with them? They are truly "aligned" in so many interesting ways....and here's why!

Good things come in threes with this duck family trio. It consists of a larger mother duck - measuring about 10 cm tall and 14 cm wide - and two baby ducks - measuring about 6 cm tall and 9 cm wide each. All the ducks are unjointed and are solidly stuffed with excelsior. They have grey felt bodies and green felt wings and heads. Their wings are decorated with yellow embroidery to look like feathers. Their beaks, legs, and feet are made from orange felt, and their eyes are little black buttons. The mother retains her original grey silk neck ribbon. The mother is cataloged as article number "2110,42 ex," and the two ducklings are cataloged as article number "2106 ex." These numbers translate to:  2= lying; 1=felt; 10= 10 cm and 06= 6 cm; 42= simple pattern with a voice; and ex= eccentric wheels. The mother and one of the ducklings retain their tiny raised script button in one foot.

Now let's check out their fabulous rides! Mom is mounted on a square metal wire carriage which glides along on four green wooden eccentric wheels. When she is pulled, she waddles and makes a peep which is generated by a little movement activated voice box embedded in her belly. You can see this feature illustrated in the photo at the end of this post. She also has a green and white twine pull string that looks period, if not original, to her. Each of her babies is mounted on a diamond shaped metal wire carriage which rides upon two green wooden eccentric wheels. They also waddle about when they are rolling along. There are loops and hooks at the end of the carriages to keep the family linked together. 

Steiff's beloved felt "duck chain" parade was a legacy item in the early 20th century. It was produced in two standard line versions: a mom with two ducklings or a mom with five ducklings. Both versions appeared in the line from 1917-1932 overall. From 1919-1921, this duck chain was produced in a substitute plush material because felt was in short supply for toy making purposes during and shortly after World War I. Steiff's signature duck chain novelties were marketed as, "This waddling felt duck with brightly colored fathers is fixed onto solidly built, eccentric wooden wheels, which provide the duck with its characteristic waddle. Also fitted with a deceptively realistic "quack-quack" voice. A droll little toy."

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this duck chain pull toy has really tugged at your heartstrings!

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

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