Sunday, February 26, 2023

Detailing The Differences Between Steiff and Pappe's Sweet Sitting Puppy Dogs

Good golly - this is NOT a Steiff Molly!
But she is adorable nonetheless, and a great example of how the toy industry has always capitalized on good ideas and best sellers. Take a look at this sweet girl... you can't help but notice several similarities between her and Steiff's beloved prewar puppy matriarch!

This darling, prewar doggie is sitting, unjointed, and stuffed with excelsior. She is 15 cm tall and made from off white and brown tipped mohair. She has black hand embroidered claws on her front legs, a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, a long narrow tail that sticks straight out, and brown and black glass pupil eyes. Her ears are lined in chocolate brown velvet and are stitched to her head. Her ID is a tan cardboard tag printed in red; it is sewn into the seam in her ear. It has the stylized letters M and P on it, and the words "Made in Germany." The M and P are for Moritz Pappe, a toy company that was started in 1869 in Liegnitz, Germany. 

So what is the story behind this mysterious pup?
Let's name her "Polly", as she was made by Pappe and most likely inspired, at least in part, by Steiff's Molly design. It is Steiffgal's best guess that this Polly was made in the mid- to late 1920s as Pappe used this distinctive, initialed ear tag as its product ID at that time. 

Many Steiff collectors are familiar with Pappe's Teddy bears, which often had sweet, babylike qualities to them. However, this company did make a full range of stuffed mohair playthings, and was especially active in the prewar era when Steiff was also taking a worldwide leadership role in soft toy production. Apparently, Pappe just focused on "local" and not global distribution. According to the Cieslik's German Teddy Bear Encyclopedia, "There is... no indication to overseas (i.e., not European) partners or customers so that one can assume that the companies were only concentrated on the European market."

Molly the Puppy design debuted in 1925.
 She is pictured here on the left. She would become the grand-matriarch of Steiff’s vast dog world. Steiff's first Molly dogs were sitting, made from long white and brown tipped mohair plush, had a swivel head, proportionally large brown and black pupil eyes, and a hand-embroidered black nose and mouth. All left the factory in Giengen wearing a ribbon and jingle bell. Pre-war, this sitting model was produced in 12 sizes ranging from 7-80 cm. Sitting Molly was one of the very first models reintroduced post war, reappearing again in 1949 in five sizes through 1969. Molly was a smashing success from her introduction, and is still universally beloved nearly a century onward. 

There has always been alot of "borrowing," as well as form and variation, amongst the toys produced by manufacturers over the years. This is especially the case with best sellers. So it should be no surprise that factories in addition to Steiff would market a two colored, tipped mohair, gentle looking puppy dog. As a matter of fact, it is thought that Molly's design may have been inspired in part by an early 1920s-era puppy named “Beauty” produced by the English company Farnell. It is quite possible that Pappe saw how well Steiff's Molly and/or Farnell's Beauty were selling, and decided to design their own version... with just enough differences to avoid patent infringement. 

Here are a few basic design and construction variations between Pappe's "Polly" (pictured on the right hand side of the comparison photos) and Steiff's "Molly", pictured on the left hand side of the comparison photos.) 

1.  Pappe's version has a long, thin white tan mohair tail; Steiff's has a very short, tipped mohair tail.

2.  Pappe's version had simple hind legs with no claws; Steiff's had well formed hind legs with claws.

3.  Pappe's version was unjointed with velvet lined mohair ears; Steiff's version was jointed with full mohair ears. 
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this dog made by Pappe has made you quite happy.

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

Sunday, February 19, 2023

The His-Story Behind A Marvelous Turn of Last Century Steiff Cub

Provenance can add such an interesting dimension to a precious Steiff item. Here's the story behind a beloved family heirloom Steiffgal recently handled for a new friend from the western part of the USA. She was looking to find a new forever home for her Grandmother's bear - a gorgeous, 19-teens era cub. Here's his story!

Maggie shares:

"Here is a little history on this bear, which has been in my family for over 100 years. He was given to my Grandmother by her older brother, when he came home from World War I. She said that he had gotten the bear in France. My Grandmother called him Buster, probably after Buster Brown, and my mother and I called him Mr. Bear.

I put the little black ribbon on him when my Grandmother passed away in 1981. He's never been like professionally cleaned or refreshed or anything like that. I can remember my mother once shaking him in a brown paper bag with oatmeal to clean him off, that would be in the late sixties.

I took him once to an open casting call for Antiques Roadshow, but they said that they didn't want to do any stuffed toys that particular season. They valued him at somewhere between $2,000 and $10,000 BUT they misidentified him as being from the early 1920s.

I've had him for a really long time, and he does remind me of my Grandmother, but as I am nearing 60 now, I realize that I have no one to pass him down to. And I know that 99% of what people leave behind ends up at Goodwill. I would just be interested in maybe selling him to someone who collects bears and loves them."

Now here's more about Buster Brown, or Mr. Bear!
This handsome dude is 40 cm tall standing, fully jointed, and made from lovely dark blonde mohair. Typical to his era, he has a prominent back hump, long thin felt padded feet, pert proportional brown and black glass pupil eyes, a sort of fuzzy muzzle, and a now faded black hand embroidered mouth, nose, and claws. He is stuffed with excelsior, with a nonworking squeaker in his belly. He has a distinctly sweet and childlike look to him. He retains his long trailing "f" button as his Steiff ID. Given his details and history, this charming cub was born in the c. 1915-1919 time frame. A picture of this bear is here on the left - before he hit the spa. 

As Maggie notes, this bear has never had a proper bath in over a century.
So Steiffgal got to work on this. With the understanding that every item is different, and that pre-existing condition issues really matters when it comes to cleaning, this bear totally qualified for a light but comprehensive scrub. His mohair and backing were lush and intact, with no signs whatsoever of dry mohair or rot. Using the technique outlined in this blog and/or in this video, Steiffgal gave him a good cleaning and fluff, and now he looks even more marvelous than ever! The picture here on the left is the bear post cleaning. Look how his fur just glows!

Now Buster Brown, or Mr. Bear, is off to his new home, far far away, where he will be loved and cherished forever per Maggie's wishes.
And look how happy he looks about that!

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

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Going Out On A Limb Over This Extraordinary Midcentury Steiff Lion

If this isn't the mane event, Steiffgal is not sure what is! To make a long story short, look who popped over for a visit... a supersized Steiff lion with mile long legs. Just who is this tall drink of water? Check out his story right here!

Steiffgal's not lyin' when she says this guy is wah-hoo good.
This supersized lion is 80 cm tall, fully jointed, and made from blonde mohair. He has oversized brown and black glass pupil eyes, a prominent pink hand embroidered nose, a black embroidered mouth and painted freckles, and clear mono-filament whiskers. He has a white mohair chin. His mane is made from very long, brown tipped mohair; the same mohair details the tip of his tail. Steiffgal thinks this particular lion has a delightful, innocent "toddler" look to him. He was made in 1958 only as an exclusive for the United States. Other extra-large (80+ cm) long and leggy exclusives of this period also included a 90 cm tiger and a 80 cm grey poodle.

This lovely lion is a rare example of Steiff's beloved and legacy lulac style design.
Steiff's lulacs all have comically long arms, legs, and torsos. They are long and lanky, usually fully jointed, and have a very playful air about them. It is interesting to note that the German verb “to laugh” is lachen, and the word for smile is l├Ącheln, perhaps suggesting that this style was designed to have a comical appearance and to bring a smile to the face of the owner. The original Steiff lulac animal was a rabbit, which debuted in the line in 1952. He was made in 43 cm through 1974, and in 60 cm from 1964-1966. Due to the success of this beautiful bunny, Steiff quickly followed with several additional lulac animal patterns, including dogs, cats, donkeys, zebras, bears, and others. Steiff's rare and goofy 40 cm black mohair lulac tomcat, made from 1964-1966, is pictured below. 

The lulac lion under discussion here today was designed and produced at a most creative period at Steiff - the mid 1950s through the mid 1960s.
It was during this time that the company made a number of unique, well designed products for their United States customers, as well as distributors at the time - Reeves International and Loucap. Other noteworthy US editions of that era were the company's dinosaur range, basset hounds, animal head trophies, and school and institutional mascots. These items, made in relatively small numbers for a short period of time, seem to always catch the eye - and pocketbooks - of collectors worldwide.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this fabulous lulac lion has given you a leg up on your day.

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

Monday, February 6, 2023

Sit And Stay And Check Out This Amazing Postwar Steiff Rarity!

What a good boy! That's exactly what you are going to say after seeing today's special blog guest. Here we have a familiar face, sort of, in an unfamiliar form. Check out this amazing Steiff dog and see where it fits into Steiff's German Shepherd post war deign timeline.

Here we have a Steiff's unusual sitting Arco German Shepherd.
He is about 45 cm tall, head jointed, and made from tannish colored mohair. His sideburns, chest, and tail are made from longer mohair. His back and sides are airbrushed with black, grey, and tan highlights, much like the real dog. He has black embroidered claws on his paws. Arco's face is detailed with brown and black pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, and a friendly peach felt lined open mouth. Of course, his red felt tongue really adds to his smile! His red collar may be original to him. He retains his raised script button and traces of his yellow ear tag as his Steiff IDs.

Steiff produced sitting German Shepherd dogs on a commercial scale prewar, but not postwar.
Prewar, Arco was made sitting in 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1937 to 1943. During this time, this beloved pattern was sometimes also referred to as "The Police Dog." Steiffgal has seen just a few sitting postwar versions of Arco, and it is her best guess that this pattern was produced as a sample or prototype and based on Steiff's 1960s-era standard line Arco pattern. A 25 cm sitting version with all IDs sold at auction in 2020; it generated 12 bids and hammered at €2,300 / $2,481. He is pictured below on the left. His cataloging, which seems to back up the prototype theory, reads in part:

"Arco, button, chest label and cloth tag label, cloth tag label is worn, sitting 25 cm, flat STEIFF button with embossed cursive writing in ear, item-No. 3325, cloth tag label on ear isn't readable, neck mark, Arco, mohair stuffed with wood wool , brown/black glass eyes, black nose/ mouth decoration, always 3 claws, press voice is faulty, red leather collar, this Alsatian Arco in sitting version was planned by the company STEIFF 1963 as novelty in different sizes , but wasn't put into the assortment, it were probably only a few sample items produced, very nice, unused original condition, extremely rare STEIFF rarity, expertise by the company STEIFF GmbH Giengen is enclosed."

Steiffgal has really enjoyed shepherding you through the details and history of this rare and wonderful Arco.

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