Monday, May 22, 2023

Getting All Fussy Over This Lovely Steiff Gussy

This pretty kitty can only be described as the cat's meow! Steiff's early postwar production is beloved for its innovation, attention to detail, smaller scale, and the fact that items from this time frame are just so darn cute. Cats and dogs ruled the roost during this period, with this black and white beauty being a true stand out in the feline category. Come see what makes her so special from the design and product development perspectives.

Here we have Steiff's "Young Kitty Gussy." She is pictured here on the left and is 12 cm, standing, and head jointed. Her body and head are made from white mohair, while her tail is made from black mohair. She has black airbrushed highlights on her feet, rear end, sides, and around her black felt ears. Her face comes to life with a white velvet muzzle, piercing green glass slit pupil eyes, a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth, a spot of pink airbrushing on her lips, and clear monofilament whiskers. She left the factory wearing a pink ribbon. This Gussy's IDs include a raised script button, yellow ear tag, and a named, blue imprinted, bear faced chest tag.

Gussy was also produced in 17 cm. She is pictured here on the left. The larger version had two main design differences from the smaller version. Bigger Gussy featured velvet ears instead of felt ears, and had a pink velvet lined mouth instead of a closed mouth. Gussy was produced from 1952-1969 overall. In 1999-2000, Steiff produced a really sweet 17 cm Gussy replica, but did not call her Gussy. She was named 'Classic 1952 Cat', most likely a reference to her year of introduction. This special edition is pictured below and is wearing a blue ribbon.

Open mouth cats are pretty rare for Steiff. The only other mid-century examples that Steiffgal can think of here are the company's Siamy Siamese cats, which were made in 11, 15, and 23 cm from 1953-1954.

Gussy debuted in the line at a really critical time in the company's history. Gussy was introduced in the very early 1950s, so it is possible to find examples with US Zone tags and red imprinted chest tags. A few years after the conclusion of WWII, when the factory was up and running for toy making, Steiff started to produce a large number of smaller, beautifully detailed animals for export. These were brand new patterns, not carry-overs or "updated" prewar designs. Many of these were dogs and cats, as these have always been "best sellers" for the company. These new patterns helped build (and rebuild) Steiff’s business worldwide as soldiers returning home from the war in Europe often brought these “toys” back home as gifts and souvenirs of their time abroad. After all, they didn’t take up too much room in standard issue G.I. duffle bag—most even could fit in a coat pocket. These beloved and newly launched “pocket pets” included Dally the Dalmatian, Tessie the Schnauzer, Snobby the Poodle, and Gussy the Young Kitty, among others.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Young Kitty Gussy has tickled your whiskers!

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