Bird’s the word, especially when it comes to Steiff studio birds! It’s certainly true that no one interprets lovely, lifelike – and life sized – birds quite like Steiff.
However, when collectors talk about Steiff “studio” items, usually very large items come to mind – like a 120 cm “baby” studio elephant or even a 150 cm studio tiger or zebra! That’s a mighty big Steiff! It is interesting to note that when Steiff refers to something as “studio”, they are really saying that the piece is “true to life” sized. So, even collectors with very small spaces can welcome Steiff studio birds into their homes without having to sacrifice too much space on their behalf. So that all being said, let’s “migrate” our attention to some of the more unusual studio feathered friends that Steiff has produced in the past few decades.
Perhaps the smallest Steiff Studio item on record, here we have Paddy Papageientaucher or Paddy Puffin. Paddy is 26 cm, unjointed, standing, and primarily made from made from black and white woven fur. He has black felt “feathers” on the tips of his wings. Paddy has large posable red webbed felt feet that are finished with airbrushed details. One of his most outstanding features is his elaborate, large red and orange beak which is made from trivera velvet. Paddy’s beak has both airbrushing and stenciled detail work. (Interestingly, most “real life” puffins molt the red-toned outer part of their beaks post-breeding season, leaving them with shorter, duller, smaller beaks for the rest of the year!) Paddy was produced from 1979 through 1981. No surprise here… as far as Steiffgal can tell, Paddy is Steiff’s first, and only, puffin.
This next “bundle of joy” bearer is Steiff’s studio Storch or Stork. Talk about a tall glass of water here! This 50 cm stork is unjointed, standing, and made from short white woven fur and long white tufted plush. He has very subtle light blue airbrushing on his forehead and wings. Stork sports black trivera velvet feathers on the tips of his white wings. He has delightful, posable red trivera legs with prominent, distinct “knees”. Stork was made from 1980 through 1984. Unlike his puffin cousins, storks are regulars in the Steiff product line, having first appeared in the charter catalog of 1892. This particular Stork appeared in Steiffgal’s collection a few years ago – as a gift from Steiffpal – when the “stork” finally graced Steiffgal’s family with a bundle of joy, albeit canine.
This final Steiff studio bird really gets Steiffgal thinking about warm summer days (and how much she’d like to be experiencing them right now!) This beach buddy is Movi Moewe or Movi Seagull. Movi is 28 cm, unjointed, and made from white, black, and grey woven fur. He has black felt “feathers” on the tips of his wings. He is standing on large, posable yellow velvet and felt webbed feet and has a yellow trivera velvet peak. Most unusually, Movi has black eyes that are backed by red felt. Besides the black mourning Titanic bears, Steiffgal cannot recall any other Steiff item with this really unique eye treatment. Movi was produced from 1979 through 1981.
Seagulls are relatively rare in the Steiff catalog; the first appeared as a 10 cm white felt bird on an elastic cord in 1913. Since then, they have mostly been produced as woolen miniatures. These include a 9 cm standing woolie from 1936 through 1940; an 8 cm standing woolie from 1954 through 1963; and an 8 cm resting woolie from 1976 though 1979. Perhaps the most sought-after Steiff seagull item is the Woll Moewen Mobile, or Woolen Seagull Mobile, a hanging mobile made of three, 3 cm by 3 cm woolie seagulls with spread felt wings. This rarity was only produced from 1974 through 1976.
It’s a feather in your cap to have made it to the end of this flighty column. Steiffgal hopes this overview has made your interest in Steiff studio birds really soar!
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, life sized or otherwise? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.