Friday, June 14, 2013

1905 Steiff Blank Button Bear

My birthday was last week, and I got bears! Several antique teddy bears were among the presents, and one of them was something I thought I would never find: a Steiff teddy bear from waaaay back in 1905, still with its rare blank button-in-ear.

12 inch white Steiff bear, 1905.

This is a special bear with a very important place in teddy bear history:

Steiff of Germany designed the first plush jointed bear in 1902, and it debuted to the public in 1903. That bear wasn't yet called a "teddy," just a "bear." It was modeled upon, and looked like, its real life counterpart: large and fierce. In 1905, Steiff redesigned the bear, making it smaller and lighter and giving it a friendlier face, more of a "bear doll" than a toy bear. This model is the one that first had the "teddy bear" look so familiar to us today, and it inspired toy makers all over the world to design their own variations.

For the first year of this model's release in 1905, it came with a blank button-in-ear as a Steiff trademark, which was changed to a button with the company's name on it in subsequent years.

My bear is 12 inches tall, of white mohair, and came wearing a pair of blue overalls that suit him nicely. He has a whimsical, crooked smile. The wear to his nose appears to be damage from kissing, so I don't mind too much.

In profile, the features of early Steiff bears are clearly visible: long arms with curved, spoon-shaped paws, big feet, and a hump.

This bear was so popular, orders skyrocketed, and the Steiff factory sold nearly a million bears in 1907!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

1930s Playskool Pullman

Two years ago, I finally found one of my most longed for toys: the Playskool Pullman, made for a very brief period in the early 1930s. You can read the original post about it here. Recently I found another one, in much better condition, with many of the accessories and details that were missing from my first find.

The pressed steel Pullman playset measures 11 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches, and was designed to resemble both a Pullman train car and a little suitcase. The leather handle made it easy to carry on a real train trip.

Two clear windows allow the little passengers to look outside, while a third window is covered with a decal printed to give the look of frosted glass.

The Pullman opens from the back, revealing  a compartment tucked behind green curtains.

Behind the curtains, a cozy compartment is unveiled, complete with benches and a fold away table. I've fitted it out with a tablecloth and some refreshments for the miniature French doll and Steiff bear travelling inside.

Above the passengers' heads, the sleeping berth is tucked away, ready to be pulled down in the evening.

Here's the berth pulled down, complete with sheets, pillows, and blankets.

To the left of the compartment is a small closet holding a porcelain sink, perfect for freshening up after a long journey.

I also found some old dollhouse sized luggage, perfectly scaled for the Pullman playset. The largest is a cardboard candy container, made in Germany in the early 1900s. The tiny red hat box is also German, while the black tin trunk was made by the Marx company.

All aboard the Playskool Pullman!