Friday, February 5, 2016

"Lots" Of Outstanding Steiff Treasures Up For Sale At The Upcoming Steiff Sonder-Auktion On February 19th!

February unquestionably is a short, dark, and cold month. But a number of fantastic auctions starting mid-month should really heat things up for collectors. Over the next few weeks, Steiffgal will present highlights from three upcoming world-class Steiff-centric sales events that should be on the calendar of every enthusiast. Let's start with the "Steiff Sonder-Auktion" at Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion. This exclusively Steiff sale will be held on February 19th, 2016 in Germany. 

The items for sale at this upcoming auction are simply amazing, and read like a "who's who" of the most sought after Steiff rarities.  So it is all but impossible to pick out three highlights as each item is outstanding in its own way.  So Steiffgal will share three selections that simply catch her eye - as well as call to her heart. 

It's hard not to notice lot 1339, a standing Steiff Putzi. He is cataloged as... 

"Putzi, dog caricature, produced between 1932 - 1935, wool plush, white, attending, with button in ear, long stretched F, used condition, swivel head, very rare, unusual." 

This adorable character was produced in 17, 22, and 28 cm and was modeled on the well known "Putzi" comic strip of the time.  His chest tag reads, "I am Putzi, of the TAZ." TAZ is the name of a German newspaper publisher. According to Steiff records, a total of 2,542 Putzi dogs were manufactured overall. This is only the second one Steiffgal has ever seen come up for sale on the secondary market.

In addition to his playful presentation, Putzi has two interesting design features.  The first is his glass nose.  Of course, it is not unusual for Steiff items to have glass eyes.  But this is only one of a handful of items Steiffgal has come across that features a glass nose.  A few of the company's early 1950-era poodles also have this distinctive facial detail.  The second feature has been lost to time on this Putzi, but is important to note nonetheless. Every Putzi dog that left the Giengen factory had distinctive eyebrows placed high on his forehead. This was done to mirror Putzi's appearance in print. 

It's time to roll forward to Steiffgal's second auction pick.  It would be hard to outfox lot 1381, a charming fox on wheels.  He is cataloged as... 

"fox on excenter-wheels, c. 1925, with button, long stretched F, height 14 cm, length 20 cm, copper-colored mohair, at single places with slight mohair loss, otherwise good condition."   

This field and forest favorite was produced in 14, 17, and 22 cm on eccentric wooden wheel from 1915 through 1933.  

Admit it, you also have a plush-crush on this fantastic fox.  His outstanding, vibrant copper coloring makes perfect cents in bringing him to life. And it's impossible to resist his "Teddy bear" style face, black mohair detailed ears, and charming presentation. 
Steiffgal's third pick may just surprise you - but remember, sometimes less is more!  Have a ball and check out lot 1456.  This simple lot of two cats is cataloged as...

"2 cats, sitting, 1x pre-war era, with button, 1x without button, ear damaged, 10 cm, otherwise good condition."

This "hidden gem" duo consists of what appears to be a sweet, well loved mid-century Susi cat plus a most unusual Steiff "Ball Cat."  The Ball Cat, which has a distinctive, simple, rounded body shape, was produced in 9 and 15 cm from 1934 though 1943 overall. 
Let's get around to discussing what makes the Ball Cat such a find.  Steiff made a series of small "ball" style animals starting in the early 1930's.  These included a lion (1934 to 1935), Teddy (1935 to 1940), Chin-Chin (1932 to 1935), Molly (1934 to 1935), rabbit (1932 to 1943), duck (1932 to 1943), and elephant (1932 to 1940).  All were simple versions of popular line items; many, like the cat, had pom-pom front limbs. What's amazing about these items is that any survived at all given they were made to fit in the palm of a child's hand and designed as toys for youngsters! As such, examples in good condition seldom, if ever, appear on the secondary market. A not so good example of the Ball Lion from Steiffgal's collection is pictured here on the left.

This is the first time Steiffgal has featured auction selections from Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion in this blog. As such, here's a little interview with the company's owner and auctioneer.

Steiffgal:  Tell a little bit about yourself and responsibilities at Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion.

Mr. Seidel:  My name is Götz C. Seidel. I am the owner of Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion. My responsibilities include describing the items, customer contact and service, and running our auctions and business along with my daughter and son-in-law.

Steiffgal:  Tell us about your auction house and its history. How long has the company been in business? What type of things does the company sell? How many does the company have per year?  

Mr. Seidel: We are a family company and have been in business since 1989. We sell historical toys and important items ranging from the Biedermeyer-time (an era in Central Europe between 1815 and 1848 when the arts and decorative items had wide appeal) to the greater 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century.  These would include things like tin toys, trains, traditional German folk art items, Christmas decorations, Steiff animals and bears, doll houses and furniture, and dolls.  We have four main auctions, plus several specialty auctions, per year.     

Steiffgal:  Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's upcoming Steiff auction has many remarkable treasures. Are they from one collection, or from several consignors?

Mr. Seidel: Many of the fine consignments are from one person, who wishes to remain anonymous.  This person inherited the collection from a relative who authored several books on Steiff.  

Steiffgal:  In your opinion, what is the most special item in the auction? What is your favorite lot in the auction? 

Mr. Seidel:  For me there are two.  The first is lot 1369, the baby Mimocculo orangutan with movable eyes, and the second is lot 1170, a charming white Teddy bear with his original white ear tag. (Both of these outstanding sections are pictured here on the left.)

Steiffgal:  Are there any items in Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's upcoming auction that were new to you or your team - things that you had never seen before? 

Mr. Seidel:  Oh yes!  Lot 1398, the "Krinoline" coffee warmer was new to all of us!  She is cataloged as...""Krinoline" coffee warmer, felt, multicolored, standing, arms and head are movable, for warming coffee- or teapots, thick felt lining, item description "KR 43", exceptional inset eyes, shiny button, wool hair, color is faded, 43 cm, produced between 1908 - 1912, rare." (This amazing rarity is pictured here on the left.)

Steiffgal:  Wow, I had never seen her before, either!  One last question for you.  If your auction house could sell any Steiff piece ever created, which one would that be and why?

Mr. Seidel:  Margarete Steiff's
elephant pincushion, of course.  That's because it's the most historical Steiff object of all. 

Steiffgal:  Thank you so much for your time, and best of luck at this sales event!  Readers, you can participate online in this auction through LiveAuctioneers.  For more information, click here!

Steiffgal hopes this Steiff related discussion and interview has been the highlight of your day.
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Warming Up To Some Of Steiff's More Unusual Dog Designs

Given it's just about the midpoint of the cold, dark winter (at least around these parts!) Steiffgal thought readers might appreciate a few warm fuzzies sent their way.  Perhaps you are aware of the saying "a three dog night?" This historically referred to the number of dogs a person would have to cuddle with at night to stay comfortable during frigid weather.  So, to REALLY help crank up the temperature, here are FIVE interesting and somewhat rare Steiff hounds that just might add a degree or two to your day!

Let's get started by taking a "peek" at this first great Steiff dog.  Here we have a large, lesser known Steiff Pekingese named Peky. Her pattern is very different from the company's better known, more common, and smaller Peky designs.  Peky is 30 cm, head jointed, and sitting. Her ears, back and tail are made from very tan long mohair while her face and legs are made from short mohair. Her face is detailed with huge, round black and white google eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, and airbrushing on her eyebrows and elaborately constructed muzzle. She has the most endearing, pouty expression... she is probably thinking, "Hand me over a taste of whatever you're eating right now!"  This large Peky pattern was made between 1965 and 1976; this example has a raised script button placing her production at or before 1969.  

It's time to hand off the spotlight to this most adorable puppet pup.  This is Steiff's Treff the Bloodhound hand puppet.  Treff is 17 cm tall and made from bright blond mohair. She has three black hand embroidered claws on each hand. Her head is modeled after the company's beloved Treff pattern, and comes to life with long droopy ears, oversized black and brown glass eyes set deep into eye pockets; a black hand embroidered nose; simple jowls; and airbrushed freckles. She retains traces of her original red ribbon.  This happy handful was produced in this size only from 1928 through 1940.  This example retains her long trailing f button, early chest tag, and traces of her red ear tag, putting her at the early part of the production timeline.

Rolling right along, here are two great and early examples of Steiff's wonderful dogs on wooden eccentric wheels.  Both have the appearance of bobbing up and down as they are pulled along.

The first coppery example begs a penny for your thoughts.  Here we have a lovely version of the company's beloved Waldi Dachshund pull toy.  Waldi is standing, 16 cm tall and 30 cm long nose to backside, unjointed, and made from long, glorious copper colored mohair.  His tail adds another 10 cm to his length. His face, arms, and legs are made from shorter copper colored mohair. Waldi has a simple black hand embroidered mouth and nose and black eyes. He glides upon four oversized, blue off-center wooden wheels. Waldi retains his original green leather collar, long trailing f button, and fully legible red ear tag.  Pre-war, Waldi was produced on eccentric wheels in 14, 17, and 22 cm from 1933 through 1943; this example is from the early part of that period. Once the factory opened for toymaking business after the war, he again was produced in 17 and 25 cm from 1949 through 1970. 

This second Steiff dog on wheels comes sealed with a kiss.   This Sealyham is standing, 17 cm tall and 24 cm long nose to backside, unjointed, and made from long white mohair. His tail adds another 5 cm to his length. Sealy has a simple black hand embroidered mouth and nose, brown and black glass pupil eyes, and felt lined ears. He rides on four red off-center wooden wheels. Sealy retains his original red leather collar and brass bell, along with his long trailing f button.  He was produced on eccentric wheels in 17 and 22 cm from 1939 through 1943.  And, like Waldi, this model again appeared in the line post war, but for a much shorter interval.  He was available in 14 and 17 cm from 1949 through 1954.

Today's final highlight is a shoe in as a collector's favorite.  Here we have a nice example of a Hush Puppy Basset hound made for the footwear company of the same name.  He is sitting, unjointed, and is made from tan mohair that has been lovingly airbrushed in multiple shades of tan, brown, and black. He has has wonderfully long, droopy ears; a hand embroidered black nose; and realistic, dimensional soft jowls. Basset has brown airbrushed claws and extremely round, realistic-looking eyeballs that are embedded into his facial mask structure.  He retains his original red collar and all IDs, including his specially imprinted "Hush Puppies" chest tag.  

This delightful customer special was produced in 14 and 14 cm from 1970 through 1972, and is quite similar to Steiff's earlier, standard line 1960s-era Basset hounds.  These were produced from 1961 through 1963 in 12, 14, and 22 cm.  There are three main differences between the standard line Bassets and the Hush Puppy Bassets.  The Hush Puppy Bassets are unjointed, have a red collar, and have a special logo'ed chest tag.  The standard line Bassets are head jointed, have green collars, and have the word "Basset" on their chest tags.  

Steiffgal hopes this tour through Steiff's "kennel club" has lit a bit of a Steiff fire under you!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Crazy Like A Fox Over This Early Postwar Steiff Find!

Are you crazy like a fox?  Hey, there's nothing wrong with that, if your nuttiness is all about Steiff!  Steiffgal definitely fits that description - perhaps you do as well?!  Some of Steiffgal's favorite Steiff animal designs are the company's great foxes produced over the years.  So she was over-the-moon excited to adopt a delightful vintage example from an antique show she recently attended in Florida.  Check out this great example and see what makes him such a field and forest find!

Here we have Steiff's early postwar Fuchs or Fox.  His official "size" is 14 cm, but he actually measures 13 cm tall and 16 cm long.  His hefty and impressive tail adds another 10 cm.  He is standing on all fours, head joined, and made from tan mohair that has been airbrushed with vibrant, copper colored highlights all over the top of his body and head.  He has black airbrushed paws as well as black highlights on his nose, eyes, and around the periphery of his ears.  The insides of his ears and his lips have very light pink airbrushed highlights.  His face comes to life with a slightly shorter mohair muzzle, brown and black glass pupil eyes, and a black hand embroidered nose and mouth.  He truly has a realistic, yet playful look about him.  This model was made officially in 10, 14, and 17 cm from 1949 through 1957 overall.  Unlike the 14 and 17 cm versions, the 10 cm version is unjointed.

Who knew foxes cleaned up so well?  Steiff, apparently... as the company also produced this beloved design as a boy and girl pair of well dressed, head jointed fox dolls.  This dynamic duo was made in 25 cm from 1950 through 1954 and dons traditional German outfits made from fine felt, calicoes, and other top-tier materials. Their stiff, standing bodies are made from linen. Steiffgal has the boy in her collection but has been on the hunt for his girlfriend for ages!  She purchased him at the 2010 Steiff auction at Christie's in London.  A bucket list experience indeed. You can see this lonely bachelor pictured here on the left.

One thing that makes the fox pattern under discussion today so special is its legacy.  It was actually also produced pre-war in a number of variations.  These included a wool plush version available with or without wheels in 14, 17, and 22 cm made from 1933 through 1939 overall; a sitting wool plush version in 14, 17, and 22 cm made from 1932 through 1937 overall; and a mohair version in 14 and 17 cm made from 1937 through 1943.  

This pre- and postwar spanning model fits within a very interest point in the design evolution of Steiff foxes.  Steiff debuted its first fox in 1897; this model was made from felt, standing, and on metal wheels.  It was produced in 22 cm through 1905.  Next came the company's first mohair foxes in 1909.  These had a distinctive "Teddy bear" like face, black mohair trim around their ears, and an eye-catching white mohair inset chest panel. These were made fully jointed, sitting, and on wheels through 1933.  A nice example of this design is pictured here on the left. The fox design under discussion here followed immediately on the heels of the company's earliest mohair models.  It shares many transitional aesthetic features, but in essence is a simplified model (less jointing, less complicated manufacturing and detailing) than its predecessor's design.  By 1960, Steiff had simplied its mohair fox even further, with the introduction of Xorry Fox in 11, 18, and 28 cm.  Xorry appeared in the line through 1969.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's pre- and post war fox design has been a smooth transition for you.

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Looking To Become A Steiff Road Warrior?

Wanna get away? That was a popular advertising line from a big airline here in the US a few years back.  And it certainly rings a bell right now as many of us are facing freezing temperatures, ice, and too much snow. 

If you are indeed planning a vacation, have you ever considered proactively weaving a bit of your Steiff passion into it? Steiffgal has found numerous Steiff treasures while "on the road," both via quests as well as serendipity. There are many ways to add a little "button-in-ear" to practically any destination. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

General antique shows:
Antiques are a national passion, and for the most part, there are shows happening all over the country at any given time. Once you know your travel dates and destination(s), simply google this information along with words like "antique" and "show," and any major or promoted show should pop right up. Steiffgal recently took a trip to Florida. In preparation, she googled "Florida," "antique show," and "January 2016" and came up with two shows that were near her travel destinations. She found one great Steiff treasure at each.  

Doll and toy shows:
In addition to general antique shows, Steiff enthusiasts on the road may wish to time their visits to specific doll and toy shows - which often also feature great Steiff. A good website to see when many of these shows are happening is, which lists events by state and date. These could be smaller shows, and can be associated with regional doll clubs. But you can do quite well at these events, and it is always energizing to be around fellow collectors.  

Of course, the "mother of all doll shows" in the USA is the annual United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC) national event, which is held in July of each year. This gathering features a magnificent salesroom, which is open to the public for one day. It is truly worth the trip to see this museum-quality presentation, which always features a number of fabulous Steiff selections. You can read all about this annual show here: UFDC also holds a number of smaller regional events that can be wonderful Steiff destinations; these are listed here:
Local antique malls and stores
It is always fun to browse through area antique malls and stores, especially when the weather is not cooperating on a vacation day. And you never know what might turn up in the next glass showcase! Steiffgal has found that searching on is a good way to find the better destinations in any given area. You can also check out which lists area antique malls. But always call ahead to make sure that the store or mall will be open (or is still in business) when you plan to visit. 

Doll clubs: 
Doll clubs are another great source of information for Steiff collectors on the road. UFDC has clubs all over the world. These are posted by regions on the organization's website at Try pinging the area director of your destination area via email.  This contact information is available on the webpage. These folks should be able to tell you the best museums, destinations, and toy/doll/antique shopping in their areas. They will also be aware of any upcoming area toy events and shows that are open to the public.

And finally, Steiffgal would be amiss if she did not mention Facebook as a great way to add a little Steiff to any vacation. Putting up a post on your page requesting Steiff-centric destinations in a specific area is a good way of getting "boots on the ground" information. If you are comfortable with it, and you know a Facebook friend with a passion for Steiff who lives in the vicinity of your travels, perhaps contact them and suggest you meet for coffee. Steiffgal has done this numerous times and has made some great friends in the process!

Steiffgal hopes these recommendations will help you source some fantastic Steiff finds on your next vacation!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.  
The teddy bear search engine