Every once in a while one of the photos in my collection stops me in my tracks
and I can’t get my mind off of it until I find out more about the subjects. This
beauty is no exception ! Immediately of course I recognize this mohair chow toy as circa
1920’s-30’s mainly because the shoes on the subjects date the image. My years in antique
doll costuming helped with that!!!
So off on a search I go, to find out if it is from the famous German toy company
called Steiff. The signature gold button and tag in the ear is what you look for
first on all Steiff toys, but many that were being played with had lost their tags
over time. ! What came next in my research just dragged me in deeper. Whoever said
history is boring didn’t relate it to chows and dolls!
Veedol looks to be maybe 5-8 months old at this point and still being advertised as the Graf Zeppelin mascot. What a life this young chow had as well as such a legacy to the Steiff company menagerie!
FROM THE MERCHANT I PURCHASED ABOVE PHOTO
“This is an original real glossy photo (not a printed lithograph photo) taken from Zeppelin–Weltfahrten which was a rare album sold in Germany in the early 1930’s. Germans would collect the individual real photos and mount them in their albums with history. The album this photo came in was falling apart with a tattered cover and loose pages.”
The photos above are all originals in a large 6×9 format. Each image had writing in pencil on the backs detailing who was in the photos. The only one where I couldn’t track down the men’s names was the group of 4. I am pretty certain they are the mechanics who donated the puppy to the crew.
A LOFTY NAME FOR A 4 WEEK OLD CHOW
This news clipping to the left is the main piece of information I found which leads me to believe that the original images mentioned above could be authentic press photos, taken by a professional photographer on the occasion of the Graf Zeppelin’s return flight to Germany.
The text in the news article matches up almost exactly to the pencil-written notations on the back of the images.
When I received the images it was the first time I had been made aware that the kennel the puppy was from called Long Acre Kennels at Toms River NJ. Even the birthday of the puppy was cited. September 18, 1928
Also, another revelation was the spelling of the puppy’s “call” name which states VEE DOL (exactly as on the photos). Two articles refer to the puppy as “Vee”. All other articles spelled it as one word VEEDOL like the oil company the pup was named after.
And finally, the registered name. A lofty and grand name for a high-flying 4-week old chow
Vee Dol von Graf Zeppelin
We may never know for sure if that stuffed chow in the first photo was truly a Steiff,
but two things you can be certain of. That chow stuffy was dearly loved by his little girl, AND
you can be sure the passengers on the Graf Zeppelin were thoroughly
entertained by the chow puppy antics of Vee Dol. Talk about socializing!!.!
Vee Dol was a true ambassador for our breed and a trailblazer for the earliest popularity of Chows in America. This is a piece of breed history that will forever be held safe and sacred in the ChowTales Archives