It’s Actually Kinda Easy Being Green for Steiff’s Great Green Frogs

A good theme for this week around these parts would have to be green. Spring is just about here (I have three tiny crocus flowers showing all their glory on my front lawn) and St. Patrick’s Day and all its festivities are being celebrated by many Irish-Americans … and just about everyone else, too. So it’s time to celebrate the wearing of the green—Steiff style—by taking a look at the history and some great examples of the company’s most beloved verdant creations: frogs, specifically, from the 1950s through 1990s.

Leaping into the green is an example of an early Steiff Cappy Frog, which can value from $60 to $80 range.

Leaping into the green is an example of an early Steiff Cappy Frog, which can value from $60 to $80 range.

Let’s green-light this discussion by taking a quick look at the history of frogs in the Steiff product line. It turns out that frogs have been a part of the Steiff catalog since practically its debut in the 1890s. The first Steiff frog leapt onto the world stage in 1899. This early design was made from felt in a very simple pattern. He was available in 5 and 8 centimeters 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; a hanging pram toy; variously colored velvet frogs; and a comically designed froggy oarsman.

In 1935, Steiff produced a two-toned green woolen miniature frog made from Nomotta wool. This little spring harbinger was sitting, lined in metal wire for poseability, and was detailed with brown and black-glass pupil eyes and tiny felt “ears.” A few years after the end of the Second World War, frogs again made their appearance, first in 1953 in velvet and again 1959 in mohair. And, moving forward, playful plush frogs have been a mainstay in the catalog since the 1960s.

Soon after the factory reopened for business following WWII, Steiff reintroduced its pre-war velvet frog design, updated it slightly, and renamed him “Froggy.” Froggy is sitting, unjointed, and made from green and yellow velvet. He looks as if he is about to bounce away, given his lifelike body position. He is delicately and realistically detailed with black airbrushing all over his back and limbs. He has pert brown and black-pupil eyes and a wonderful, old-fashioned look to him. Overall, Froggy was made in 8 and 10 cm in velvet from 1953 through 1977 and trivera velvet from 1978 through 1986.

This next Steiff frog design to hop onto the scene was made from tan mohair and also named Froggy. This Froggy model is standing on all fours and gloriously hand airbrushed in every shade of green, brown and tan … even a tiny touch of purple. This model has oversized brown and black pupil eyes that are framed by heavy eyelids, as well as very realistic webbed-style hands and feet. Standard line mohair Froggy was produced in 20 and 28 cm from 1959 through 1973. This model was also produced in 40 cm as a “snuggy” or sitting style animal from 1959 through 1966. This larger model is seldom seen on the secondary market and is highly desired among collectors.

Steiff mohair Froggy Frogs, positioned on all fours, will set collectors back $100 to $300 to secure one.

A sitting velvet Steiff Froggy may value in the $75 to $150 range.

You just might go green with envy over this next Steiff oddity. This happy-go-lucky amphibian is called Schlenkerfrosch or Dangling Frog. This fierce frog is unjointed, very floppy and designed in Steiff’s iconic “lulac” style. Like other Steiff designs of the period, his head is made of molded PVC and is beautifully hand painted. Frog’s body is made of green and yellow velvet. He has funny, chubby webbed hands and feet. It is interesting to note that Dangling Frog’s Steiff button is located on his upper right thigh—probably because it would have been impossible to insert it anywhere on his molded head. This item was produced in 35 cm only from 1970 through 1974. This identical frog pattern was also produced in a 17-cm hand puppet from 1963 through 1978.

This next example certainly has the appearance of being a big frog in a small pond. This little big shot is Steiff’s Cappy Schlenkerfrosch, or Cappy Dangling Frog. As you can see, Cappy definitely has a “don’t mess with me” look about him. Like Dangling Frog, Cappy is also “lulac” styled with his long arms and legs—but he also has an internal wire armature that allows 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. He wears his Steiff button and tag in his left webbed foot. This hoppy friend is 32 cm and appeared in the Steiff line from 1979 through 1984.

The newer Cappy Frogs are a bargain, as far as doling out greenbacks, as they can be had for $40 to $60.

The newer Cappy Frogs are a bargain, as far as doling out greenbacks, as they can be had for $40 to $60.

Schlenkerfrosch, or Dangling Frog, are the princes of the category, valuing in the $250 to $500 range.

Schlenkerfrosch, or Dangling Frog, are the princes of the category, valuing in the $250 to $500 range.

This final fantastic Steiff frog in this discussion certainly likes to keep it all in the family. He is also called Cappy Schlenkerfrosch, and he is the next generation of the Cappy just previously discussed. This Cappy is unjointed and made from washable green and gold colored woven fur. He is just a bit chunkier overall than his forbearers, and his face is detailed with oversized black and brown-pupil eyes and black airbrushing to define his mouth and nose areas. He has a belly squeaker and wears a delightful red ribbon. Cappy was produced in 32 cm from 1986 through 1995.

In terms of value, as always, something is worth what someone will pay for it. But, fortunately for enthusiasts, you don’t need much of the green stuff to add these super Steiff frogs from the 1950s through 1990s to your collection. Here in the United States, a sitting velvet Steiff Froggy may value in the $75 to $150 range; a mohair Froggy on all fours in the $100 to $300 range; a larger mohair Snuggy Froggy in the $250 to $500 range; a Schlenkerfrosch in the $100 to $200 range; an early Cappy in the $60 to $80 range; and a newer Cappy in the $40 to $60 range. This assumes each item is in very good to excellent condition with at least two forms of ID.

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

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