R. John Wright and Steiff release important series of felt dolls based on century-old designs World-renowned character-doll artist R. John Wright has announced the release of the first half of a four-doll limited-edition series based on circa-1900 designs by Steiff.
News-Antique.com - Nov 12,2007 - Made by American artisans in a Vermont studio,
Steiff Kinder reflect seldom-seen Old World craftsmanship
BENNINGTON, Vt. - World-renowned character-doll artist R. John Wright has announced the release of the first half of a four-doll limited-edition series based on circa-1900 designs by Steiff, the world's most revered manufacturer of soft toys. Known as Steiff Kinder - the German word for “children” - the 17-inch felt dolls are fully jointed and dressed in beautifully constructed outfits similar to what children in German villages would have worn in the first decade of the 20th century.
Each of the dolls - known as Lukas, Sophie, Mathias and Katharina - has a molded face finely sculpted by R. John Wright, and is finished with hand-painted facial features, inset glass eyes and mohair wigs. The dolls are sewn and detailed to perfection, with an attention to the finer points of sewing and tailoring that is rare to find even in upscale men's and women's garments, including real shirt pockets, stitched buttonholes, hand-cobbled leather shoes, and pieced leggings and undergarments. Each doll in the numbered Kinder edition - which is strictly limited to 500 per “child” - comes with a trademark Steiff button-in-ear and RJW brass button, as well as a signed and numbered certificate of authenticity. Matched-number sets are offered subject to availability.
R. John Wright Dolls began developing the idea of a new range of Steiff Kinder three years ago. The company's president, designer John Wright, recalled traveling with his wife Susan, who is R. John Wright Dolls' vice president, to Steiff's headquarters in Giengen, Germany. There, the couple met with Steiff's president, Martin Frechen. “We spent three days there and were allowed to view the Steiff Archives,” John said. “That is an honor afforded to very few people. We saw hundreds of old Steiff felt dolls created in the early 1900s, as well as the original sketchbook belonging to Richard Steiff, who was founder Margarete Steiff's favorite nephew and the designer credited with inventing the teddy bear.”
The Wrights were even allowed to return to their Vermont studio with antique Steiff dolls from the Archives to use as the inspiration for the 2007 Steiff Kinder line. “At first, the plan was that we would design the dolls and teach Steiff's production team how to manufacture them, since we have many years of experience and built-up technology with dollmaking,” Susan Wright said, “but then we all agreed that it would be more fluid for us to manufacture the Steiff Kinder here in America and ship them to Steiff's U.S. headquarters for distribution.”
John Wright explained that a dual milestone was achieved when Steiff entrusted his company with a supply of trademark Steiff buttons for attachment to the proposed dolls' ears. “I don't think Steiff buttons had ever left the factory before,” he said. “This project represented the first time Steiff had allowed another company to apply their button-in-ear to products, and by the same token, it was the first time we had ever allowed