Find of the Week: Steiff Foxy Fox Terrier

This is what Steiff calls “Foxy Fox” terrier. This particular Foxy is 10 centimeters tall, is stuffed with excelsior, and is in a sitting position.

This is what Steiff calls “Foxy Fox” terrier. This particular Foxy is 10 centimeters tall, is stuffed with excelsior, and is in a sitting position.

There is nothing more thrilling to most collectors than to find a dream item in a most unexpected place. As a Steiff enthusiast, I am particularly interested in the company’s early post-World War Two dogs, with their beautiful construction, endearing faces, and lifelike “canine” details, which make them so attractive as collectibles. So imagine my shear delight when I came across this little fellow in a booth full of . . . antique farming tools . . . at a recent antique show in Willmington, Mass.

He is what Steiff calls Foxy Fox terrier. This particular Foxy is 10 centimeters tall, stuffed with excelsior, and is in a sitting position. He is made from white mohair plush that has been detailed with black airbrushed spots. He has tiny brown felt ears and black and brown glass pupil eyes, while his black nose and mouth are hand embroidered and are finished with just the lightest touch of pink airbrushing. Foxy has his original pink silk ribbon (slightly discolored over time to a mellow light brown), a bell, and all of his Steiff identifiers: a “Knopf im Ohr” or button in ear; his yellow ear flag, and a chest tag with his name—Foxy—in bold blue letters. Foxy was also produced in 14- and 17-centimeter versions from 1953 though 1955 only.

So what makes this Foxy such an exciting find? There are several reasons.

First, Fox Terriers are a legacy and beloved Steiff pattern. They first appeared in the Steiff catalog in 1899, which in itself debuted in 1892. They are one of the very few specific breeds that have appeared continuously in the product line since practically the inception of the company. Over the past 111 years, Fox Terriers have been made from felt, velvet and mohair for use a as play and pull toys, pincushions, puppets, woolen pom-pom miniatures and handbags, among other items.

Second, his size and his place in time. This particular Foxy is one of the beloved “post-World War Two” dogs in the Steiff catalog. After the war, the factory started minimal production in 1948. Things picked speed by around 1950, and full fledged production was back on around 1953-54, when materials and supply chains were back in order. In these first years, Steiff produced a large number of smaller, beautifully detailed animals for export. Many of these were new designs, while others were modifications of those items in the product line before the war. (This particular Foxy was a slight variation on a Fox Terrier called “Fox” that was produced until 1943; the pre-war “Fox” didn’t have spots and had black mohair ears.) These patterns helped build Steiff’s popularity worldwide as soldiers returning home from Europe often brought these “toys” back home as gifts and souvenirs of their time abroad.

Steiff’s Foxy Fox terriers in the sitting and standing versions.

Steiff’s Foxy Fox terriers in the sitting and standing versions.

Third, and probably most importantly, his brevity. In addition to this sitting Foxy, Steiff also produced a standing Foxy; he was produced post war in 11 sizes ranging from 7 through 36 centimeters from 1949 though 1975. These are quite common on the secondhand market. Sitting Foxy, on the other hand, was only produced in three sizes and for three years. This “blink of an eye” appearance makes him extremely hard to find and as a result, puts him on the “wish list” of most Steiff treasure hunters.

So what kind of deal did I get? The dog was marked at $40 but I got him for the unbelievable steal of $30. The sitting Foxy Fox versions from the early 1950s, assuming relatively good condition, usually sell in the $250-$500 range. The standing ones, in the same sizes, value in the $40-60 range.

Rebekah Kaufman is a Worthologist who specializes in vintage Steiff and other European plush collectibles.

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