Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Art of Play: A Steiff Monkey, 1910

Monkey (Chimpanzee)
Steiff, 1910
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Monkey! Mohair Monkey! Okay, it’s not actually a monkey, it’s a chimpanzee, but the German toy makers, Steiff referred to all their early simian soft toys as “monkeys.” Who knew the difference?

This chimp features fully jointed arms, legs and head, so that he can sit or stand. His arms are exceptionally long and slightly bent at the elbows to make sure he was in full monkey mode. As with most of Steiff’s animals, a great deal of attention was paid to the details. His fingers and toes are clearly defined and rigid, built atop metal prongs.

The curators at the V&A believe this toy—which still retains its trademark button in the left ear—was made as an automobile accessory, designed to sit on the radiator cap of a motor. How interesting. He seems to have held up well and is in pretty good condition for being over one hundred years old.

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