Thursday, December 1, 2022

Sit and Stay and Check Out This Tiny Steiff Mechanical Marvel!

Now who is a good dog? Those are every puppy's favorite words, and in some ways, Steiffgal's as well! Check out this happy handful of a Steiff 'herd... German Shepherd, that is! This prewar treasure packs a lot of features and design elements into a very small body. He'll have you smiling ear to ear for sure.

This blue ribbon buddy is Steiff's tail-turns-head German Shepherd dog.
He is 15 cm tall, sitting, and made from wool plush (that has practically been entirely loved off.) His cheerful face comes alive with pert triangular ears; brown and black glass pupil eyes; a black hand embroidered nose; and an open, felt lined, smiling mouth. He is solidly stuffed with excelsior, which is a manufacturing feat in itself, given how small he is, and how narrow his limbs are. The excelsior stuffing holds his metal tail-moves-head apparatus in place; it would tend to shift or settle if it was packed in kapok or other lighter filling. This mechanism enables his head to move in a circle when his sweet little tail is twisted. 
This little lovely was made in 15, 18, 23, 29, and 36 cm from 1931-1935 overall. 

One of the most astonishing things about this example is his IDs.
They are great in themselves, but it is sort of a miracle that they even exist at all, given how much love and use this guy clearly has had over the years. He wears his all original brown leather collar. It is held together with two long trailing "F" Steiff buttons. He also retains his original, red imprinted, watermelon shaped named chest tag. It is interesting that on the back of the chest tag, it is stamped "Int. pat. app. for" meaning "International Patent Applied For". Steiff was very proud of its tail-moves-head technology, and other companies were starting to copy it starting in the early 1930s. It really is amazing that he still has his collar and tag, given how ephemeral they really are, relative to his sturdy overall construction.

This pretty puppy has a great place in Steiff's prewar and early midcentury German Shepherd production history.
German Shepherds have been featured almost continuously in the line since 1923. Perhaps the best known Steiff German Shepherd design is Arco, who was introduced in 1935 but got his name in 1937. Pre-war Arco was made from mohair and had prominent, felt lined ears and a smiling, open, felt lined mouth. He was made standing on wheels (in 35, 43, 50, 60, and 70 cm), standing (in 14, 22, 28, 35, 43, 50, and 60 cm), and sitting (in 17, 22, and 28 cm) from 1937 to 1943. During this time, Arco was sometimes also referred to as "The Police Dog." As one of Steiff's most beloved late pre-war dog designs, early Arco again graced the line from 1951-1956 in the form of a 10, 17, and 22 cm standing version. These guys strongly resembled their pre-war pattern. A 43 and 50 cm standing version on wheels was also manufactured from 1949-1956.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this tiny Steiff treasure has brought a big slice of joy to your day.

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