Ah! Spring and all its associated finery have made their most welcomed appearance in Steiffgal’s part of the country. That means lots of sprouts, buds, and warm weather bulbs finally emerging from their winter hibernation. And the timing couldn’t be better, today being the vernal equinox! Which got Steiffgal thinking, what’s the best way to hop into a new season awash with green? Why, with Steiff frogs, of course!
Frogs are a legacy animal species for Steiff; from what Steiffgal can tell, the first frog appeared in the Steiff line in 1899. This debut frog was made from felt in a very simple pattern. He was available in 5 and 8 cm and came on a bouncy elastic cord, probably designed as an early “action figure” for children! Other early frog patterns included a velvet frog on a felt leaf designed as a pincushion (later produced in 2004 as a limited edition replica Steiff club piece, discussed below…); a hanging pram toy; green, red and yellow velvet frogs; and a comically designed froggy oarsman. In 1935 Steiff produced a two toned green frog woolen miniature made from Nomotta wool. Fast forward a few years after World War II, frogs again made their appearance in 1953 in velvet and 1959 in mohair. Playful plush frogs have been a mainstay in the catalog since the 1960’s.
According to Kermit the Frog, it’s not easy being green. (This Steiff Kermit the Frog is made from mohair, 33 cm tall, head and arm jointed, and a 2009 North American limited edition of 1,500 pieces.) However, it is very easy to take look at some of the great frog items Steiff has produced over the years!
Let’s get a leg up on this discussion by starting with Frosch Froggy or Froggy Frog. Froggy is sitting, unjointed and made from green and yellow velvet. He is delicately and realistically detailed with black airbrushing all over his back and limbs. He has pert brown and black pupil eyes. His Steiff button is located on his right hand. Froggy was made in 8 and 10 cm (measured sitting) from 1952 through 1986. But looks and numbers can be deceiving; if he were to be measured with his legs extended he would triple his size to 30 cm!
Next, cast your eyes over to this happy-go-lucky amphibian named Schlenkerfrosch or Dangling Frog. Dangling Frog is unjointed, very floppy, and is designed in Steiff’s iconic long legged “lulac” style. His head is made of PVC and is beautifully hand painted, while his body is made of green and yellow velvet. He has funny, chubby “webbed” hands and feet. His Steiff button is located on his upper right thigh. Dangling Frog is 35 cm and was produced from 1970 through 1974. This identical frog pattern was also produced in a 17 cm hand puppet from 1963 through 1978.
Moving along, here we have Cappy Schlenkerfrosch, or Cappy Dangling Frog. Cappy definitely has a “don’t mess with me” look about him. Like his older brother Dangling Frog, Cappy is also lulac styled with his long arms and legs, but his have internal wire armature which allow him to be posed in many ways. Cappy is unjointed and made from green and tan trevira velvet. He has yellow and black pupil eyes and dark brown airbrushing details on his feet, hands, and face. His Steiff button is located on his left foot. Cappy is 32 cm and was in the Steiff line from 1979 through 1984.
And finally, here’s a few very old – and very new – Steiff frogs doing what frogs do best, rest on a comfortable leaf-pad. On the far left, here we have Steiff’s Frosch als Nadelkissen, or Frog Pincushion. The frog itself is 5 cm and his green felt leaf is about 11 cm. Frog’s body and back thighs are made from light tan velvet which has been majestically airbrushed with black, tan, and green stripes. Frog’s front arms and back feet are made from tan felt. He has black eyes and a simple black line for a mouth. This really special item is a replica of Steiff’s original Frosch als Nadelkissen – produced from 1903 through 1914 – and was one of the Steiff Club’s exclusive member items in 2003. A picture of the 1903 version is shown here to the right of the 2003 replica, and is from Gunther Pfeiffer’s wonderful Steiff Sortiment 1892 – 1943 book.
Steiffgal hopes this overview of Steiff’s wonderful frogs has put a little hop, skip, and jump in your (springtime) step!
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