Friday, May 24, 2024

This Steiff Teddy Bear From 1964 Is One Merry Mash-Up!

Talk about hiding in plain sight! Steiffgal was checking out the latest listings on eBay to see if she could find a hidden treasure. And lo and behold, the shopping gods aligned and this rarity appeared out of nowhere! He doesn't look like much - and could be easy to miss. Check out this merry mash-up of a bear and see what makes him so distinctive from the design and marketing perspectives. 

 

Cosy Teddy is 28 cm, unjointed, and softly stuffed. His body shape and proportions are a bit like the company's childlike Lully baby bear. Cozy Teddy is made from white dralon. His paw pads are made from pinky-peach colored dralon. He has four brown dimensional felt claws on each of his paws. His face comes to life with smaller scaled black and white cartoon eyes and a hand embroidered brown nose and mouth. This pattern of facial stitching is similar to that seen on the company's postwar Original Teddy bears. He also has a little airbrushing around his peepers to give them some depth. When he left the factory, Cosy Teddy was decorated with a blue ribbon. This guy was produced in this size only in 1964. He retains his raised script button and bits of his yellow tag as his IDs. Given his washable construction, size, and simplicity, it is quite possible he was designed a hands on plaything for kids. 

 

This bear has two key design elements that make him quite distinctive. First, he has wool felt claws, which is most unusual in the Steiff line. A few other bears from his mid-1960s era, including Zooby the zoo bear, Cosy Nauty the polar bear, and Zipper Nauty the PJ bag, also have this detailing... but the vast majority of Steiff's cubs from all eras have embroidered or painted claws. And second, he sports round black and white plastic cartoon eyes, which are somewhat too small for his face. This configuration is also an outlier in Steiff's bear production. The only other example with this style and scale of eyes Steiffgal can think of is the company's Cosy Bruni Collar bear; he was made from 1965-1966. 

 

Steiff clearly had big plans for Cosy Teddy, as he was the "cover bear" for its 1964 "New Models" catalog. You can see that cover shot here on the left. Like Cosy Teddy, this four page catalog introduced a significant collection of new editions made from dralon materials. This publication is also very interesting because it debuted a number of items that were only produced for a year or so. Steiffgal refers to these now hard to find treasures as "One-derfuls" to note their single year appearance in the line. Cosy Teddy is one of these 1964 "One-derfuls"; others pictured in this brochure include Reinhold the Rhino, Loopy the Wolf, Zipper Cockie, and Sneba the Snowman puppet. Today, many of these rarities top enthusiasts' wish lists given how few were produced over a very short period of time. 

 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Cosy Teddy and his discovery has added a soft spot to your day. 


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

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Keeping It Tru With This Mysterious Prewar Steiff Doll

Hat's off to another great Steiff find! Here we have a lovely prewar Steiff doll that recently joined Steiffgal's hug. Her condition and coloring is stunning, and you can't help but admire her perfectly coordinated outfit - and how well she wears it! But behind this little gal are a number of really big mysteries. Take a look at Trude and see what makes here so intriguing from the product design and historical perspectives.

What we have here is a precious pressed felt faced doll named Trude. She is 35 cm, standing, three ways (head and legs) jointed, and excelsior stuffed. Her face is made from flesh colored felt, while her limbs and trunk are made from flesh colored linen. Her arms are floppy and hang loosely by her sides. Her arms are bent slightly at the elbows, and she has very defined fingers. Her face is highly textured, with chubby cheeks, a realistic mouth, pert nose, and lifelike blue glass eyes embedded in eye sockets. Her facial painting is lovely and done with a gentle hand. Even her little ears are sculpted just like a child's. She is finished with a blond mohair wig, which is seamlessly integrated into her head structure. Trude's IDs include her red rubber bracelet, tan colored tag, and teeny tiny prewar button. You can see her IDs close up in the photo below. 

Trude's outfit is adorable and fits her to a "t". She wears a white cotton "one-sie", which is trimmed with lace around the leg openings and bodice. It has thin little straps which fit over her shoulders to help keep it in place. Her short sleeved white cotton blouse is removable and closes in the back. It is cropped and detailed with red pull strings at the neck and arms. She wears a cotton dress that closes with two metal snaps and is detailed with a ruffle around the waist area. The fabric features yellow, blue, black, white, and green wildflowers on a red background. Her footwear also is removable and consists of white cotton socks and red felt Mary-Jane style shoes. And she retains her original red and yellow wide brimmed hat, which is trimmed and ties with a red silk cord.

Trude is super interesting for number of subtle reasons. Steiff's "pressed felt" face doll line was produced from 1937 through 1943, and then again in 1949 and 1950. Steiffgal cannot locate a c. 1930s-1950s era doll of her construction with that name. The fact that her name was written by hand on her tag suggests that only a few of these dolls with this name were made. But more on that in just a moment! Also of note is her construction. Many to most of these wartime era dolls were made entirely from felt, but this example has a felt head and a linen body and limbs. This may suggest that she was manufactured when fine toy making materials were unavailable or expensive due to wartime rationing or shortages - perhaps in the very 1930s to early 1940s. As a result, matching linen in the place of felt was used instead in less "visible" areas of the doll's anatomy. 

Trude is dressed and resembles one of Steiff's standard line production pressed felt faced dolls named Gretel. Gretel was made in 35 and 43 cm from 1938-1942 overall and is also dressed in a similarly styled red dress with snaps, a white blouse, and red felt shoes with white socks. The most obvious difference between Trude and Gretel in terms of outfits is that Gretel wears a red hairband, and Trude has an oversized felt hat. You can see a picture of Gretel here on the left, the image is from Pfeiffer's Sortiment 1892-1943.

So here is where there are more questions than answers about Trude. Was she made to substitute for Gretel in terms of her materials and construction? Was she perhaps a sample of some sort? Why doesn't she appear in any Steiff materials, as far as Steiffgal can locate? And why does she have a large, glorious felt hat... given the rest of her is constructed to minimize the use of this premier toy making fabric? Well, only she knows for sure... and unfortunately, she's not talking!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's terrific Trude doll has been a playful addition to your day. 

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

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Wool You Be My Baby?

It may sound corny, but this small scaled maize wool plush Teddy baby bear has captured Steiffgal's heart in a really big way! This happy handful has seen a lot in his nearly century of life, based on his loved condition. But the world hasn't seen a lot of him - or his pattern - based on his absolute rarity and short stint in Steiff's product catalog. Take a look at this beautiful baby and see what makes him so special from the design and promotional perspectives.

Teddy baby is 15 cm tall, fully jointed, and made from fuzzy maize colored wool plush.
His feet are made from slightly shorter wool plush. He has felt pads and four black claws on each paw. He has a side squeaker in his torso. Typical to his legacy namesake pattern, he has flat feet designed for standing, downturned arms, and a distinctly toddler-esque appearance and proportions. Although most Teddy baby bears are open mouthed, this particular model was produced with a closed mouth in all sizes. As such, his pensive face comes to life with proportional glass pupil eyes, a shorter wool plush inset muzzle, and a probably restitched black floss nose and mouth. He retains his long "trailing f" button as his Steiff ID.

Wool plush, closed mouth Teddy baby was produced in 12, 15, 20, 22, 28, and 35 cm (measured sitting) from 1929-1932 overall.
This pattern is one of the rarer prewar Teddy baby varieties. This is the first of his kind Steiffgal has ever seen or handled. The vast majority of prewar Teddy baby bears were produced in brown, blonde, or white mohair with smiling, velvet or felt lined open mouths.

Despite his relative rarity, this wool plush Teddy baby was featured in its own Steiff print advertisement.
This was produced and distributed in 1929, the year this Teddy baby was introduced. The main copy on the advertisement translates basically as: "The cute, fluffy bear child with the new expressive face, the loyal look and the cuddly paws, a great performance, fully mobile, and well-positioned." According to the print advertisement, Teddy baby is offered in maize mohair plush or wool plush. Both versions are available in 12, 15, 20, 22, 28, and 35; those at 22 cm and larger came with a growler. You can see this print advertisement here on the left. If you click on it, you can view it in a larger format.

It is also very interesting to note that the two different versions had significantly different prices as noted in Reichsmarks, the German currency of the era. You can see this in the third column of information describing each of the two Teddy baby variations. The wool plush versions generally are around 20% more expensive than the mohair plush versions. Steiffgal suspects that this likely reflected the actual costs of the fabric to make these items as the time and effort to make these two variations had to be almost identical.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this unusual prewar Teddy baby model has helped to rejuvenate your day!

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

Sunday, May 5, 2024

All Smiles Over This Steiff Midcentury Musical Teddy Baby!

You will quickly understand why Steiffgal is whistling a happy tune over this next fantastic - and most unexpected - find. This sweet gal was found at an estate sale in the New England area in somewhat run down condition. But Steiffgal knew with a little TLC, spit, and polish (and a new spring outfit), she would be nearly her old self again. Take a look at this midcentury singing sweetie and see what makes her so interesting from the design and historical perspectives.

Can you bear it? Yes, what we have here is Steiff's Music-Baer or Music Bear. She is 25 cm tall, head jointed, and standing. Her body is a simple cylinder made from tan wool plush and her brown mohair arms are floppy. She has pink hand embroidered claws on each paw. Her head is based on the beloved and legacy Teddy baby design, originally introduced in the 1920s. Teddy has an internal Swiss music box which plays when her torso is pressed and released up and down like an accordion. When she was new, she left the factory dressed in a white cotton shirt and a red, black, and white rayon skirt with a green felt waistband and matching suspenders. 

This musical marvel was made from 1950 through 1951 only. She retains her original Steiff trailing f button, yellow ear tag with the numbers 9325 on it, and traces of a white linen "Made in the US Zone" tag in her left arm seam. All of these IDs perfectly align with her dates of manufacture - just a few years after the company opened for toy making business again following WWII. It is interesting to note that this musical Teddy baby's ID number translates to... 9=mechanical, 3=mohair, 25=25 cm tall. Steiff also made "girly" versions of this dressed music box product based on their popular Bazi the Doxie and Kitty the cat designs of the period.

This Teddy baby find really benefited from a little spa treatment. Sadly, her rayon skirt and white shirt had all but disintegrated over time; what was left of both items were in tatters. To honor her "plaid" origins, Steiffgal created a little neck scarf out of the skirt's salvageable material. You can see her factory original outfit here on the left, the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1947-2003 Sortiment. 

Music Teddy also was covered in at least a half century of dust and grime. With a little elbow grease and a gentle scrub, her original beauty and personality came shining through again! Her wool plush body and tan muzzle darkened a touch overall and evenly over time, and there's not much anyone can do about that. But her brown mohair really revealed quite a glow upon cleaning. 

As for her clothing, Teddy baby is again donning an all original Steiff outfit. Although these contemporary pieces were produced by Steiff more than a half century onward from Teddy baby's birth year, they still look great, are appropriate, and well scaled to her somewhat unusual body. She wears a green calico dress; the fabric features tiny versions of Steiff's most popular playthings and Steiff bear faced logos. And she's keeping warm with a light blue felt jacket detailed with a collar and round gold buttons; this coat was produced for a Steiff Peter Rabbit a few years ago.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this wonderful Teddy find has been music to your ears. 

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

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Jumping For Joy Over This Tiny Steiff Prewar Mystery Rabbit

It's off to the races with this next Steiff mystery. Size defies when it comes to this bitty hare on the go. Her proportions, IDs, and detailing date her to the Roaring Twenties - but who exactly is she? Let's go down the research rabbit hole and see what we can infer about her origins. 

Steiffgal is jumping for joy over this teeny tiny running rascal.
Baby bunny is on all fours and about to spring into action. She measures about 8 cm tall and 10 cm wide. She is unjointed and made from mohair that has faded over time to appear brown with silver tipping. Rabbit has a simple pink hand-embroidered mouth and nose, brown and black glass pupil eyes, and a few remaining clear monofilament whiskers. She also has "rough" stitching on the edge of her ears. You occasionally see that on some mid-1920s era items, including early Molly dogs. Running rabbit retains her long trailing "f" button and traces of her red ear tag as her Steiff IDs. 

As far as Steiffgal can tell, this item does not appear in the Sortiment as a regular line item.
After a little digging, she suspects that it was made especially to be one of the passengers on the company's mid to late 1920s-era pull toy novelties. Specifically, given the rabbit's size, color, era, and presentation, it is possible that she was produced to ride on the company's Galop-Fux novelty. This is pictured here on the left; this wheeled wonder was in production from 1926-1929. This image is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.

Galop-Fux consisted of a little grey running rabbit and a red brown fox that were mounted upon an elaborate metal wire chassis. Their cart had four red wooden wheels. When pulled along, passengers on a Galop toy shuffled back and forth in opposite tandem; the rotation of the front wheels was responsible for one animal's movement, while the rotation of the back wheels was responsible for the other one's movement. The running rabbit form would be perfect for this sort of effect. 

Galop style toys appeared in the Steiff product line from 1926-1929 overall.
In addition to this fox and rabbit model, Steiff also made Galop toys with a Molly and black cat; two bears; an elephant and a lion; Barney Google and a bear cub; Barney Google and Sparkplug; and two goats.

It is interesting to note that there is precedence for Steiff making unique items for their 1920s-era pull toy novelties. Like this rabbit, these rarities did not appear in any other sizes or as stand-alones in the line at all. For example, the Galop featuring a Molly and black cat version included a c. 10 cm tall standing and unjointed black Tom cat. He is fabulous for sure - but does not make an appearance anywhere else in the catalog ever, as far as Steiffgal can tell.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this mystery rabbit has improved your day by leaps and bounds. 

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Swept Away Over This Latest Midcentury Steiff Discovery!

Isn’t this guy simply "one-derful?" Look who just joined Steiffgal's hug. She had been looking for a fine example for decades, and apparently good things come to those who wait. Make it your lucky day and say hello to this super Steiff Sweep!

This adorable chimney sweep puppet named Blacky is 17 cm tall. His head is made from a soft rubbery material. He has a plastic finger tube inside his head. His hair is once copper colored mohair, and his body is jet back mohair. His oversized hands are made from felt and are lightly stuffed with excelsior. He wears a traditional black felt top hat and carries a black plastic ladder. His face comes to life with black and white painted eyes and some not-so-random coal smudges. His "outfit" is accessorized with a partial black leather belt and a neck tie. This puppet rarity was made in this size only in 1964.

The chimney sweep profession goes back as far as the 16th century in Europe. According to legend, chimney sweeps have been associated with ushering in health and happiness. As such, many brides in the past would have their chimney swept on their wedding day. Steiff probably added a chimney sweep to its line because of his centuries-long reputation as a good luck charm. 


Blacky debuted in the company's "New Models 1964" catalog.
This four page, full color brochure featured a number of now rare Steiff novelties, including a few that also were made for one year only. Steiffgal refers to these sorts of treasures as Steiff's "One-derfuls." Blacky is pictured on the back page of the catalog, and you can see that part of that page here above. You can also click on the image to make it bigger. 

His neighbor in this catalog is none other than Steiff's equally as rare and interesting Sneba snowman puppet. Sneba is 17 cm, unjointed, and made from white dralon. His face comes to life with button black eyes, an orange felt carrot nose, a red stitched mouth, and a touch of pink blush on his cheeks. He has two black "coal" woolen pompoms on his chest. Like his buddy Blacky, he wears a black felt hat and was made in one size only in 1964. 

You might just recognize Blacky's mug - as the same mold was used for a number of other rubber headed puppets in the 1960s through 1980s.
These include Happy the clown, Hansel and Gretel puppets, a princess, a modernized Shockheaded Peter, and even a grandmother, among others. It is interesting to see how this mold was used to represent male and female characters of all ages. And there is precedence for "recycling" facial molds on Steiff's dolls and puppets. If you look carefully, Steiff's beloved and legacy Dwarfs Lucki, Pucki, and Gucki all have the same face.... and share those good looks with the company's rubber faced Santa Claus dolls of the same era.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Blacky the Sweep has been a happy windfall for you.

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

Friday, April 5, 2024

Hands In The Air Over This Fabulous Prewar Steiff Find!

The show must go on... and this week it is in the form of a puppet show! Yet another super Steiff surprise hit Steiffgal's inbox this week. Here is something so rare that Steiffgal can count on one hand (yes, pun intended!) the number of examples she knows of in real life. Check out this note from Mariette who shares...

"I read something about your Charly puppet and saw my Petsy puppet in the same advertisement picture. Since you are always interested in more Steiff items I present to you my Steiff puppet from I guess 1928? It is about 24 cm long and made from tipped reddish and white mohair. It has blue glass eyes and a prewar long ff button with red remnants of a tag. On the inside it has a cardboard cylinder where you can put your finger in to move the head. I bought it at an antique market for 85 euros in the Netherlands. Hope you can tell me something about if it is rare because I never saw one before."


Here's a tip - this guy is off the charts great!
What we have here is Steiff's "Punch Petsy," or Petsy as a hand puppet. According to published company records, this cute cub was made in 17 cm from 1928 to 1932. His head and the tips of his paws are stuffed with excelsior, and as Mariette notes, he has a cardboard finger tube embedded in his head. Of course, he is based on the company's beloved brown tipped mohair Petsy the Baby Bear design - one of the true sweethearts of the company's "roaring 20s" era Teddy bear production.

Petsy's design was introduced in the late 1920s and was originally named "Buschy." Thankfully, Steiff's marketing team changed this to "Petsy" to reflect his precious and toddler-esque presentation and personality. Brown tipped Petsy appeared in the catalog from 1928 to 1930 in 10 sizes ranging from 22 to 75 cm, measured standing. This model was fully jointed with tan felt pads. His distinctive facial properties included a prominent center facial seam, blue and black glass pupil eyes, a rose-pink hand embroidered nose and mouth, and proportionally large, rounded, wire rimmed, and posable ears.

In addition to a puppet, Steiff also made a handful of other novelty items based on their brown tipped Petsy pattern.
These included a full bodied musical version, which was produced in 25 and 30 from 1928 to 1930. He also appeared as a pull toy on wheels, called a "Record Petsy." This delightful design appeared in the line in 20 and 25 cm from 1928 to 1929. And finally, Petsy was manufactured as a standing, head jointed handbag in 17 cm from 1927 to 1928. All of these blue eyed novelties are indeed blue ribbon, and as rare as hen's teeth!

Ok, how about a penny for your thoughts here?
Mariette notes that she paid 85 euro for her Petsy puppet. So how did she do? After much research, the only other example Steiffgal could find of a Petsy puppet sold at public auction was in February, 2016. There, one traded hands at over 6,300 euro! Of course, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Mariette's example has some condition and losses which might impact its ultimate value or price tag. But it is safe to say that she did VERY WELL, and would have no trouble at all selling it at a significant profit if she ever decided to rehome it. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's amazing Petsy Puppet is worthy of a standing ovation. 

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

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Would You Take A Tumble For This Early And Fantastic Feline Steiff Novelty?

This next Steiff inquiry comes in on little cat's feet. A new friend has reached out about a special family heirloom with provenance. Just what is this very early turn of last century treasure? And what makes it so fantastic from the collector's perspectives? Tom shares in part,

"I've attached photos of my Rolly Polly cat. I've had this since I was a child (50+ years ago)... It originally came from a relative who inherited it from their partner who came from a wealthy family from New England."


This guy is simply the cat's meow. But, given his form, he is "technically" a tumbler and not a roly-poly. Steiff's early 20th century roly-polys are all fabric and shaped sort of like an inverted balloon. Most are head and arm jointed, without legs. Examples include mohair cats (made in 16 and 23 cm from 1909 through 1919 overall); mohair Teddy bears (made in 16, 19, 23, and 29 cm from 1909 through 1916 overall)mohair rabbits (made in 23 cm from 1909 through 1918); and a series of mohair and felt dolls from the same basic time frame.

On the other hand, tumblers are full bodied and mounted to a very heavy, weighted wooden half circle base. As such, they wobble about like a weeble but always return to an upright position. Their bases are simply stained and are a natural wood color. Most tumblers measure 12 to 17 cm tall and are standing, sitting, or begging. Steiff did make a few oversized circus bear style tumblers in 35 and 43 cm through 1918 overall.

Tumblers debuted as early as 1894 and appeared in the general line with frequency through the late 19-teens. In the late 1930s, Steiff produced a series of three begging style tumblers on green or red painted wooden bases from 1936 through 1943 overall. Models included a velvet and mohair squirrel, a mohair Waldi Dachshund, and a mohair kitten holding a pom pom ball.

So back to Tom's cat.
 The photos suggest that he is made entirely from felt. Steiffgal suspects he is the company's Tumbling Cat, which appeared in the line in 17 cm (not including his base) from 1894 through 1919. The cat is solidly stuffed with excelsior and features black shoe button eyes and simple facial embroidery. It is hard to tell if he ever had a button, based on the photo of his face. It is entirely possible that he was manufactured pre-1904. Other early Steiff cat tumblers include a spotted velvet version made in 12 cm from 1904 through 1917 and a velvet striped version made in 17 cm from 1901 through 1919.

What makes this tumbler even more remarkable is its condition. He is made from felt, which tends to get grubby over time and attract insects. He was also designed as a toy, but it is clear he received little hands on play. Also of note is his tail. These are actually super thin, not terribly sturdy, and are attached to the animal's rear with just a few stitches. Often, these go missing or break off given their construction and natural aging. However, in this case, Tom's tumbler appears clean and damage free against all odds! Super score all around!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's early tumblers has got you rocking and rolling!

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

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Bleating With Happiness Over This Marvelous Moving Steiff Goat!

Could this next Steiff discovery be the GOAT (greatest of all time)?
Well, it depends who you ask, but he certainly qualifies by genetics! Check out this absolute rarity from the early 1930s and see what makes him so delightful in multiple ways!

What we have here is Steiff's tail-moves-head goat. He is standing, head and tail jointed, firmly stuffed with excelsior, and made from tan mohair. The backs of his ears and the underside of his tail are made from black mohair. He has gorgeous teal and black slit glass pupil eyes and a simple black hand embroidered nose and mouth. When he left the factory nearly a century ago, he had lovely and realistic hand airbrushing over his body to give him texture and dimension. His bow and bell are not original to him, but he also sported these accessories when he was new. 

This adorable barnyard buddy was produced in 18, 23, and 29 cm from 1931-1934.
This guy is the baby of the bunch at 18 cm. His precious presentation plus his 
tail-moves-head feature really put him in a class all by himself. 

So what are the deets behind this mechanical marvel? When you very gently twist his mohair covered tail in a circle, his head follows in tandem. He has an internal metal jointing system which enables this. You can often tell tail-moves-head items because they have an especially long and thick and somewhat undefined neck area. That is necessary to hold the jointing apparatus as well as allow for room for the fabric to move a bit. And more times than not, tail-moves-head items are missing the mohair covering on their tails. You usually see just a naked metal loop or tag, but in this case goat has managed to retain his mohair tail over all of these years. Guess he was good at protecting his assets!

It is interesting to note that this guy, and other Steiff tail-moves-head items from his era had an additional ID tag.
 This was a round, Steiff branded cardboard tag that read "turn here and I will move my head" in three languages. It was attached on or near the animals rear end. Unfortunately, goat's extra tag has been lost to time in this case. 

They heyday for Steiff's tail-moves-head production occurred in the years leading up to WWII. The mechanism, which consisted of a metal apparatus, was patented in the early 1930s. Over 25 different animals were produced with this feature. These included cats, dogs, rabbits, penguins, goats, and lambs, and an elephant, among others. They were considered "luxury toys" at their time and even appeared on the cover of one of the company's 1931 catalogs for their debut. They were promoted as, “The year 1931 has presented us with the animals with the new head movement… The simplicity of the mechanism, though which the splendid movement is produced, cannot be beaten, yet it is unbreakable and allows lifelike play, full of variety and mimics… When buying new supply in plush toys please be sure to include the STEIFF animals with the new head movement; all numbers equipped with it are marked ‘H."

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this delightful tail-moves-head goat has you jumping for joy.

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

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Hop-ping To Find Answers About This Fantastic Steiff Prewar Rabbit On Wheels

Orange you glad you checked in with this blog today? Well you will be for sure after learning more about this super cool prewar rarity living with a new friend from far away. Alena shares...

"Hello from the Czech Republic,

I have a question about my toy - rabbit on the wooden wheels. I couldn't find any information whether the Rabbit has been produced in Steiff factory in this color. Toy hasn't got any button neither any else marking. 

Thank you very much in advance for the answer and maybe some more information about that."

This happy hopper is the wheel-deal indeed.
It is Steiffgal's best thinking that he is one of Steiff's standard line rabbits on wheels from the late 1920s. Here on the left, you can see the photo from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment illustrating what Steiffgal believes is this exact item. He is in a "hopping" position, meaning he is on all fours and about ready to take off! The name of this body position was later changed to "running", which also makes alot of sense.

Alena's treasure is one beautiful bunny. Here you can see him relaxing with some WAH-HOO good vintage friends in the photo on the left. Rabbit is unjointed, solidly stuffed with excelsior, and features large brown and black glass pupil eyes, a hand embroidered pink and black nose and mouth, and clear monofilament whiskers. He has once vivid orange mohair. He rides upon four asymmetrical wooden "eccentric" style wheels. As such, he appears to sway back and forth as he is pulled along. This item was produced in 12, 15, 18, and 23 cm (measured vertically, top of the head to toe, not including ears or wheels) from 1927-1930 overall in this stunning color. He was also produced in an almost identical pattern in brown tipped mohair in 14, 17, and 22 cm in 1928.


Brightly colored animals, including rabbits, dogs, cats, and bears - were a delightful feature of Steiff's late 1920s to very early 1930s product line.
These sweet pets appeared in orange, pink, blue, green, gold, or other "jellybean” colored mohair or velvet fabrics, and usually had playful, youthful personalities to match! Tipped mohair - meaning mohair with just the ends or tips dyed a complementary or eye-catching color - also had its heyday in the product line around the same time. You can see a number of these colorful rabbits in the photo on the left, the image is from the company's 1929 product catalog. 

Steiff also produced a few other fun novelties featuring "larger than life" colors like Alena's wheeled rabbit.
One of particular interest is a delightful orange and white begging style rabbit on eccentric wheels. In July, 2023, the auction house Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH of Ladenburg, Germany sold this 20 cm tall rarity from 1926-1932 for nearly $4,000. He is pictured here on the left, the image is from Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion.

Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed learning about this darling, 24 carrot gold prewar novelty!

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

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Racing To The Finish Line With This Unusual Wintertime Steiff Mascot

Baby it's cold outside!
At least in many places where Steiff Superfans are residing right now! Here's a little chilly weather fellow that is certain to warm your soul - and possibly even start your heart racing! This little bunny on the mend recently joined Steiffgal's collection, and the timing could not be more perfect! Come see what makes him so fun, quirky, and intriguing from the product design and development perspectives.



This bandaged bunny is 18 cm tall and head jointed.
Knupfi's head, ears, hands, and feet are made from mohair. His body is made from velvety material. His shirt is green and his pants are red; this clothing is integral to his body. His face comes to life with felt lined ears, big black and white cartoon style eyes, a red hand embroidered nose, a little pink airbrushing, clear whiskers, and brown shaded highlights. His arm is in a sling made from white cotton calico fabric with pink dots. His foot is bandaged in white tape, and he holds a red, white, and blue plastic ski pole in his hand. Perhaps he is using it as a cane, given his injuries? He retains his raised script button, yellow ear tag, and named chest tag as his Steiff IDs. This unusual character appeared in the line in this size only from 1968-1971.

Things are actually twice as nice when it comes to this (once) racing rabbit.
It turns out that he was actually produced with a companion named Hupfi. Like Knupfi, Hupfi is 18 cm tall and head jointed. He has an almost identical body construction with a mohair head, ears, hands, and feet and a velvet body. His integral outfit includes a blue shirt and red pants. However, unlike Knupfi, he is in fine form physically and has a ski pole in each hand and carries a perfectly to scale pair of skis. Hupfi was produced from 1968-1970. Perhaps Hupfi is the "before" and Knupfi is the "after" bunny when it comes to skiing safety? You can see Knupfi and Hupfi posed together on the left; the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1947-1999 Sortiment.

So what is the back story to these fine fellows?
 Steiffgal couldn't find anything specific about that, but has an idea. Given their dating, it is possible that they might have been inspired by a big worldwide sporting event. The 1968 Winter Olympics were held from February 6th - February 18th in Grenoble, France. These were the first Olympics to be broadcast on television in color.  

Skiing related competitions are usually a big part of these cold weather games, and this one did not disappoint.
French athlete Jean-Claude Killy swept three Alpine skiing events (downhill, giant slalom, and slalom). This accomplishment elevated him to icon status; he would go on to serve as co-president of the Organizing Committee of the 1992 Albertville Olympic Winter Games and become an IOC member in 1995. It is also interesting to note that the mascot for these games was also a playful, quirky little guy. He was named “Shuss”, and was in the form of a little man on skis. The top of his oversized, colorful head head, which rested on a unique zig-zag flash-shaped foot, featured the Olympic rings. You can see Shuss pictured here on the left. Perhaps Knupfi and Hupfi were Steiff's gentle nod to this also colorful and somewhat goofy mascot of the era.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's ski rabbits has put you in the pole position.

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

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Does This Steiff Prewar Tom Cat Tickle Your Whiskers?

This great Steiff inquiry walked in on little cat's feet!
And talk about launching a collection with a rockstar! A new friend from Germany writes about her debut vintage Steiff purchase. She is curious about its birth year, give or take a bit. Rebecca shares,

"I bought my first vintage Steiff animal and it's the famous Tom cat. As I know that she was produced over many many years I'm now super curious which exact time it was that mine was produced. It's the smallest one. And it has the old button with the long "f" at the end. So I think that means that it can be between 1923 and 1953, right? Do you think you can say it more specific? I just can't find more information. Kind regards from Germany!"

Wow, Rebecca's purchase is truly the cat's meow
. It is Steiff's mid- to later prewar Tom cat. This fantastic feline was made for the standard line in 8, 10, 14, 14, 22, and 28 cm from 1923-1943 overall. The 8 cm and the 10 cm versions had a pitch black velvet body and a fuzzy black mohair tail. From 14 cm onward, all sizes were made entirely from black mohair. These cats were technically measured vertically, from the top of their heads to their toes. Their long vertical tails almost "doubled" their height measurements. They were detailed with green and black round or slit glass pupil eyes, a simple hand embroidered mouth and nose (Steiffgal has seen both pink and red examples), and clear monofilament whiskers. They left the factory wearing a decorative silk ribbon and sometimes a little bell to match. The bow on Rebecca's example is not factory original. 

Now back to the question - his birthday.
The best telling clue here is that he has the short trailing 'f' style button. This button appeared on items in the line from about 1936 through the very early 1950s. So we know that the earliest the cat was produced was 1936. As noted above, this particular cat with a black velvet head and body and mohair tail was made in 8 or 10 cm from 1933-1943 overall. This skinnies down his production timeframe to most likely in the c. 1936-1943 timeframe. So he's clearly from the late prewar period. 

One thing that's nearly purr-fect about this feline pattern is how long it has appeared in the Steiff line.
 The earliest version made its grand public debut in a photograph featured in the 1903-1904 Steiff catalog... in the same picture that introduced PB55... the world's first jointed Teddy bear! This puts Tom in very good company for sure. This photo is here on the left - you can click on it to make it bigger. And Tom CONTINUES to make guest appearances in the line on and off to this day in the form of replicas and special editions. His timeless, universal popularity and appeal have truly earned him legacy status within the Steiff collecting community.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's prewar black Tom cats has tickled your whiskers in a most happy way. 

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

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Developing A Plush Crush On This Early Steiff Rod Bear

Steiffgal's just a little out of joint when it comes to today's special guest. And you probably will be too! This turn of last century cub is off the charts rare, totally adorable, and has great provenance. Check out "Plush," an all original Steiff rod jointed bear, and see what makes him so amazing from the historical and product development perspectives. 


This grand old man is Steiff's 28PB. This somewhat technical name refers to 28=measures 28 cm sitting down, P=plush material, and B=jointed. Plush was "born" around 1904, is fully jointed, and is very solidly stuffed with excelsior. His early and signature features include black wooden shoe button eyes, a prominent back hump, an "American" football shaped torso, very curved wrists, felt pads, a simple tan embroidered mouth, a trimmed muzzle, and five black hand embroidered claws on each of his paws. He has very long arms, as he was originally designed to be posed standing on all fours. He also has his original black gutta percha nose. This is pretty special, and also unusual, as this hard rubber facial feature often is lost to time. He would have sported the company's earliest elephant style button when he left the factory c. 120 years ago - but that ID has been lost to time. Without a doubt, Plush is a great example of Steiff's early turn of last century commercial production.  


Steiff's rod bears are typically firm to hard in their texture... not usually "cuddly" as we think of Teddy bears today. They need to be "sturdy," in part, because of their jointing. Their metal rod jointing is heavy and clunky, and would shift around in the bear if it were not tightly packed into his body. The reason rod bears typically have a football shaped torso and slightly unnatural proportions is because these shapes can hold the rods and hardware securely in place when augmented with wood wool stuffing. 


The nose also knows when it comes to rod bears. Each rod bear's nose was applied by hand - with an artisan dropping bits of melted gutta percha directly on the bear's muzzle area until there was enough there to configure this important facial feature. The warm gutta percha was sculpted by hand, so each nose was a little different, and often included the fingerprints of the person making the nose. Legacy has it that Richard Steiff saw this production step and felt it took far too long, and was not consistent enough. So, when he designed the next version of his fully jointed bear - a cardboard disk version that was introduced around 1905/06 - this cub pattern had an embroidered nose (and mouth) to simplify and add efficiencies to the manufacturing process. 


Now let's talk a little bit about Plush's history and background. This bear originally belonged to Katharine Wilson Walker (2/14/1899 - 2/28/1985). Kathe (as she was called) named the bear "Plush" when she was a young child. Kathe passed the bear to her great niece, Barbara Walker Burrows, in the early 1980s. Until most recently, Barbara proudly displayed Plush in her china cabinet, along with other family treasures and period antiques.You can see Plush right at home amongst some lovely blue and white plates in the photo here on the left. 


Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the company's early rod style bears has given you a "Plush Crush" on this remarkable Walker family treasure!


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

The teddy bear search engine