Saturday, April 22, 2023

Tag, You're It With This Rare Steiff Badger And Her Equally Fabulous Bonus ID

Steiffgal doesn't want to badger you about this, but have you checked out this fantastic Steiff rarity? This well designed field and forest friend only appeared in the Steiff catalog for two brief years. So blink and you would have missed her! Come Dig a little deeper and learn more about this wonderful member of the weasel family... and her most unusual "bonus" ID. 

This happy handful is Steiff's Diggy badger.
She is 10 cm tall, standing on all fours, unjointed, and made from tipped cream mohair on the top, white mohair on her head area, and black mohair on her bottom section. Her sides and face are beautifully airbrushed with tan and black highlights, giving her a most realistic look. Her tiny ears are made from mohair. She has black felt foot pads, round brown and black pupil eyes, and a simple black nose and mouth. Diggy was produced in 10 and 17 cm from 1963 through 1964 only, making her very rare on the secondary market.

Little Diggy and big Diggy are almost identical, except for one interesting detail. Big Diggy has four white felt triangular shaped claws on each of her limbs, while little Diggy has none. These finger and toe nails remind Steiffgal of those on another Steiff rarity of the same time, Zooby the bear.

In addition to her standard Steiff IDs, this particular example also has an additional tag stapled to her ear.
It is a green linen tag with the word Steiff in cursive letters across the top, and the words Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry in tiny letters encircling a crest with the number "55" on it. What's that all about?

Steiffgal did a little digging (pun intended) and it turns out that the State of Pennsylvania, here in the United States, has something called the Stuffed Toy Law. According to the official PA government website, this law establishes a standard of safety for stuffed toys distributed throughout the Commonwealth. 

This is how this law works, according to this website:
"The Bedding and Upholstery Section receives samples of toys and checks them for flammability, contents and safety of design. Manufacturers of stuffed toys intended for distribution in Pennsylvania by sale or as gifts must be registered with the Department. Stuffed toys must have a tag attached identifying the Pennsylvania registration number of the manufacturer. This tag indicates to the consumer that the toy has been reviewed by the Department and the manufacturer has registered with the Department."

So now let's figure out what we can deduce, and not, concerning this state law. It is interesting to note that  this law was put into place in 1961, just a few years before Diggy debuted in the Steiff catalog. So that timing and her tag align. And it is safe to assume that this particular Diggy started her life in America in PA. But three aspects of her tag remain somewhat of a mystery. 

  • First, it is possible that the number "55" on the tag is Steiff's "official" registration number in the PA system, or it could mean something else. 
  • Second it is not clear who registered Steiff to distribute its products in PA in the early 1960s. It could have been the company itself, or one of its distributors at the time like Reeves International, or it could have been an independent store or business selling Steiff at the time in PA. 
  • And finally, it is difficult to tell whether this tag was put on Steiff's items intended for sale or distribution in PA in Giengen, before they were exported, or in PA, once they arrived in the states.
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this rare Diggy badger and her great (and mysterious) ear tag has added a pleasant distraction to your day!

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

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Steiff's Midcentury Dally-Tally!

It's time to cross your "T's" and dot your "I's" with this next Steiff story. Steiff's first Dalmatian dog appeared in the 1953 catalog - nearly 70 years after the company's launch in the late 1800s. This delay is noteworthy as Dalmatians are known as hunting dogs (and hunting is a popular pastime in Germany), and that they originated somewhat locally to Germany in the Dalmatia region of present day Croatia. Better late than never!

Steiff's legacy - and still appealing and collectible today - standard line Dalmatian was named Dally. They debuted at a time when Steiff was actively rebuilding its business postwar; part of this strategy included introducing a number of adorable, smaller sized mohair pet designs that were easy to collect, distribute, and market. Dally was produced 10, 17, and 28 cm. All sizes were sitting, head jointed, and stuffed with excelsior. They were made from white mohair gloriously spotted with black airbrushing. All sizes had an open, smiling mouth, a black stitched nose, and brown and black pupil eyes. Each left the factory in Giengen wearing a red collar. These charmers appeared in the line through 1969. Baby Dally is pictured her on the left.

Given his popularity, Dally's pattern was the inspiration for several product line extensions, most notably two hand puppets. The first was 17 cm and matched the fabric and detailing of Dally - including his signature open mouth. He was simply a head, arms, and hollow body in form, and was in the catalog from 1955 - 1956. Today, he is one of the company's rarer postwar puppets. You can see him here on the left, alongside a baby Dally. The second Dalmatian puppet, Mimic Dally, was 28 cm. Unlike the 17 cm version, this more elaborate plaything had a head, arms, a hollow body, as well as feet and a tail. You could move his mouth with your fingers to make him talk. He was made from 1958 - 1959 and is also quite rare on the secondary market.

Dalmatians also caught the eye of the toy store F.A.O. Schwarz. As such, Steiff created several special edition Dalmatians for the upscale retailer. The first, a standing version of Dally, was made in 11, 22, and 28 cm. The 11 cm size was made in 1953 only, while the 22 and 28 cm sizes were made in 1955 only. Here on the left you can see an 11 cm version and the 28 cm version. If anyone has the 22 cm version, please let me know! LOL! It is interesting to note that both a sitting and standing version of Dally are featured on the cover of Gunther Pfeiffer's 1947-1999 Steiff Sortiment reference book. 

In addition to standing Dally, Schwarz also worked with Steiff to create several other Dalmatian themed novelties for their stores.
One was a 23 cm sitting Dally; he was also based on the standard line Dally design. He was produced in 1953 only. Another was a Dally Family, which consisted of one 23 cm Dally, one 11 cm standing Dally, and two 10 cm sitting Dally pups, all resting on a cushion in a wicker dog bed. This set was only produced in 1953, and is probably the rarest of the pet family baskets, given it includes two exclusive items. This is pictured here on the left. Also of note was a lying Dally. He was curled up on his side in a realistic, resting position. He was made in 28, 43, and 60 cm in 1956 only. And perhaps the most "regal" Dally was Royal Dally, a 14 cm, closed mouth begging Dalmatian wearing a crown and cape. He was available in 1963 only. 

The final midcentury Dalmatian under discussion today is also spotlight worthy.
In 1962, Steiff partnered with Disney to produce a version of Rolly from the movie, 101 Dalmatians. This family favorite flick debuted in 1961 and was based on the 1956 book The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Rolly was of the named Dalmatians in the movie. This sweet, playful, and youthful pattern was made in 12 and 22 cm in 1962 only; they are pictured here on the left. Both sizes were standing, unjointed, and had distinctive cartoon style eyes. The larger version had a dimensional nose made from black velvet. Although Steiffgal can think of several pets of the same era with velvet muzzles, most had black embroidered noses. A velvet nose is an unusual detail for a Steiff animal.

Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed the overview of Steiff's Dally tally.

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