Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Vectis Auctions' Upcoming January 2019 Doll & Teddy Bear Sale To Offer Lots Of Steiff Temptations


Temptations, temptations... as Steiff collectors, we all are excited to learn about interesting sales and opportunities on the horizon. So Steiffgal was delighted to hear from her colleague Joanne McDonald at Vectis Auctions about an upcoming event featuring fantastic vintage Steiff selections. The company's Doll & Teddy Bear Sale will be held on January 29, 2019 starting at 10:30 AM GMT at the Vectis galleries, located in Stockton on Tees in the United Kingdom. Here are three outstanding Steiff lots from that sale that really caught Steiffgal's eye - and why. 

There's no horsing around that this first pick, lot #4616, is one of the mane events of this toy auction. It's a rare, antique Steiff horse on early metal wheels, estimated at £300 - £500 ($385 - $642.) It is cataloged as:

"Steiff vintage rare Muster (sample) horse on wheels, German, circa 1907 (produced from 1907-1920), Art No 1359, with rare Muster button to left ear (also has remains of white fabric tag behind button), Steiff button is missing, cinnamon and white mohair, black boot button eyes, black velveteen inner ears, inserted black cotton mane, tail is missing, upon metal chassis with connecting frame, original cord is still attached to frame (faded), four six-spoked metal wheels, curb bit with long metal shank (inserted within horse's closed mouth), curb chain, bridle is missing, leather saddle with tooled edging, leather girth, stirrups with leathers, crupper, red felt saddle cloth with gold embroidered edge (felt is holed, particularly under the seat of the saddle where a piece is missing), white felt surcingle, mohair is worn and faded / discoloured with some areas of balding overall, muzzle is holed to front, left ear has hole, Fair Plus to Good, 19.75"/50cm. NB: Steiff "Muster" button was used by the company on sample pieces- defining the piece to be a 'sample.'"

Collectors are certain to jockey for position over this eye-catching and unusual example. The size is perfect - not too big, not too small - and won't take up alot of room... which is a issue with many items on wheels. He has an authentic, early presentation and would look would look charming posed alone, or even better, with doll or Teddy riders on his back. It is great that he still retains his accessories, including his stirrups, saddle, blanket, and reins. And buttoning things up here, his seldom seen and desirable "muster" button is the frosting on the cake. It is Steiffgal's understanding that Steiff used the "muster" button pre-WWII on items considered samples, evolving designs, prototypes, or the "gold standard" for production. In general, the button indicated that the item was Steiff property and was not intended for sale or distribution. "Muster" translates loosely from German to English as "template" and in a sense, these "muster" items were just that.  

There's no grey area when it comes to this next auction highlight. It is lot #4621, a Steiff vintage rare Purzel or somersaulting elephant, estimated at £1,000 - £1,500 ($1,285 - $1,927.) It is cataloged as:

"Steiff vintage rare Purzel (somersault) elephant, German, Art No 9323, 1909-1910, button with underscored "f" and remains of white paper tag, grey mohair, black boot button eyes, felt tusks, fully jointed, black toe stitching, mohair and felt tusks a little discoloured, slight bald patch to left forehead, tip of trunk and left hind leg, mechanism is free and partially engaging but does not operate, otherwise Excellent, 12.75"/32cm. NB: The elephant is the rarest of all Steiff tumbling animals- only appearing in the catalogue for two years."

This great tumbler is truly ele-fantastic.  His design itself is really appealing, but his clockwork feature would make any enthusiast go head over heels over him. Steiff's tumblers are all time collector's favorites, and seldom appear on the secondary market. These somersaulting sweeties are activated by an internal clockwork mechanism and literally do somersaults when their arms are wound up. Steiff "purzel" production included bears, monkeys, elephants, and a few doll models, including Eskimos and clowns. For context, in 2016, a similar one changed hands at auction in the USA at $3,300 (£2,568).

And this last auction highlight is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Check out lot #4622 a rare vintage Steiff Jocko monkey, estimated at £700 - £900 ($900 - $1,156.) It is cataloged as:

"Steiff vintage rare Jocko monkey, German, c 1930, uppercase letters with underscored "f" button (with remains of white tag behind), ginger* mohair, brown and black glass eyes, felt inset face, cream mohair chin, felt ears, hands and feet, fully jointed, slight discolouration / wear to mohair and felt, small hole to felt left cheek, left little felt finger is holed, mohair thinning to right cheek and torso (inoperative press squeaker), otherwise Good Plus to Excellent, 11"/28cm. NB: *This is not a standard Steiff line item and is highly desirable in this colour."

This spicy guy is a ginger prince indeed. Unlike Steiff's regular line Jocko monkeys, which were produced in brown or white mohair, this fantastic rarity was manufactured in an almost orange colored mohair. It is easy to think that he "faded" or "oxidized" to this color, or was somehow treated to produce this color, but indeed he was "born this way." Prewar, Steiff sometimes produced standard line items in small quantities in "un-standard" materials for a few reasons. These include 1) using materials on hand to make an item when its regular materials were not available, 2) testing a new fabric on a standard item to see if it was appealing or made sense from the monetary or product line extension perspectives, and 3) fulfilling an order for a window display, customer special request, or other business purpose. Steiffgal knows of two other 1930-era gloriously hued Jockos like this one, and in both cases, they are considered collection "royalty" by their owners.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Vectis' upcoming sale has given you "lots" to think about. Please check out the company's website at www.vectis.co.uk to learn more and to see the auction's 650+ wonderful toy treats firsthand. 

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

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Snips and Snails And Puppy Dog Tails - Steiff Style!

Oh boy! Look what we have here... a delightful dolly inquiry from far away! Check out this note from a new friend about her lovely little fellow. Just who could he be? Adriana writes...

"I mail you from Netherlands. I have this beautiful doll and would like to know more about age and price. All the information you could give me would be very welcome. How old is my piece? What is some of the history around my piece? Is my piece really a Steiff? I would like to thank you for your efforts and wish you a nice day."

Let's button up what we know, and what we don't, about this beautiful boy. For sure, he is made by Steiff, given his general presentation, center seamed felt face, and Steiff button (which can be seen in a photo that does not appear in this blog post.) However, because it is Steiffgal's best thinking that some of his clothing is original to him, and some is not, his EXACT identify is more questionable. Having handled a number of first quarter 20th century Steiff boy dolls, Steiffgal suspects that his socks, pants, and shirt are most likely original to him, while his vest, hat, and necktie, are not. 


As it turns out, Steiffgal has an all original boy doll in her collection who is wearing a very similar shirt, pants, and socks as Adriana's little love. As such, it is possible that they are the same model, although it is not clear from the photos just how tall Adriana's boy is. Steiffgal's doll is 28 cm. This boy doll's name is Harry, and according to Steiff records, he was made from 1908 through 1925 in 28, 35, 43, 50, and 60 cm. Harry is made entirely from felt, is fully jointed with truly human proportions, and has a short, blond mohair wig. He is described as "felt, jointed, Dutch fisherman, original costume." By "original costume" Steiff means that the dolls are dressed in apparel that is traditional to a country - in this case, the Netherlands. You can see Steiffgal's Harry here on the left. Check out his original felt clogs and silk neckerchief.

One thing that is a little different between Adriana's doll and Steiffgal's doll is their age. And you can detect that through a simple, but subtle difference between the two. Steiffgal's doll has black shoebutton eyes, dating him at the earliest part of the production run, say around 1908 to 1910. Adriana's doll has stunning blue and black glass pupil eyes, dating him from roughly 1911 onward. Here on the left you can see Steiffgal's Harry posing with his lifelong friend Alida, a sweet Dutch girl who also sports fine felt clogs. Given her blue and black glass pupil eyes, it is safe to say she's a handful of years younger than handsome Harry.

Adriana also asked about the possible "value" of her doll. As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiffgal has not handled this doll in person to fully view and access its condition. What is clear is that he does have a little damage to his face, and that his clothing is not entirely original to him. After doing a little research on current auction sales of antique Steiff dolls in somewhat similar condition, it appears that an example like this could trade hands in the $800-1,200 range.

Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed learning about Adriana's mystery man!

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

Monday, December 31, 2018

On The Up and Up With This Darling Steiff Strupp

Just try and outfox this Steiff question. Name one of Steiff's most prolific dog breeds. For sure, the company's beloved Dachshunds, Bulldogs, and Boxers come to mind. Also less top of mind to some, but certainly ranking, would be the company's Fox Terriers. Fox Terriers have been around almost as long as the Steiff catalog, which debuted in 1892. Let's take a look at a most unusual pre-war example and see what makes him so interesting from the design and product development perspectives.

Pull up a seat and check out this sitting Strupp dog. He is 17 cm tall, made from white mohair, and is head jointed. He has a few black hand airbrushed spots on his body and back. Strupp has black hand embroidered claws on each of his paws. His earnest face comes to life with oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and prominent, jet-black mohair ears. Sitting Strupp was produced in 17, 22, 28, 35, and 43 cm from 1928 through 1932 overall. It is interesting to note that this model of Strupp was only produced sitting; Steiff often produced their dogs and cats from his era in a number of body positions.

Steiff also manufactured a number of Fox Terriers named Strupp in the 1928 through 1934 time frame. However, they looked really different than the sitting Strupp under discussion here. The standing Strupps of the period had black mohair patches on their bodies, a black ear and a white ear, and tawny airbrushing on their faces. The company also made a grey and white sitting tail turns head Fox Terrier named Strupp, but he really presents much more like the company's traditional Fox Terrier design with a prominent, very long mohair muzzle. You can see this grey and white Strupp pictured here on the left; the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment. So it is Steiffgal's best guess that Strupp might have been a popular name for Fox Terriers at the time, and that is why Steiff called all these different Fox Terrier designs "Strupp."

Now let's paws and consider this Strupp's place on the product development timeline. The first Fox Terrier appeared in the Steiff line in 1899. It was on wheels and made from felt. Since then, Steiff has produced close to 40 different Fox Terrier models pre-WWll and over 20 designs from the late 1940’s onward. As part of the company's strategy to reflect the culture of the "roaring 20s," Steiff updated or launched many new pets that featured distinctly childlike, playful, and innocent personalities. They also started giving their dogs and cats sweet, endearing names - like Molly, Bully, Fluffy, and Foxy; previous to that, most were simply noted as their biological breed. Fox Terriers were a big part of this strategy, with other models including "Ajax," Spotty," and "Foxy." A lovely, rare pre-war wool plush lying Fox Terrier is pictured above; it is from our dear friend and fellow Steiff enthusiast Daniel Agnew. 

And just what makes a Fox Terrier, well, a Fox Terrier? As his name suggests, this dog was bred to assist in fox hunting. Besides breed size and appearance standards, they have to be able to perform three key hunting tasks. First, they have to have the endurance to keep up with foxhounds, who lead the hunt. Second, they have to be small enough follow foxes down into their holes during the chase. And third, they have to be feisty when they do indeed encounter a cornered fox.

Steiffgal hopes you've enjoyed this discussion on Steiff's very rare Strupp pup!

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

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Going Ape Over Steiff's Unusual 20th Century Chimps

It's no secret that Steiffgal is completely bananas over Steiff's delightful and ever-happy Jocko the chimp. This marvelous monkey pattern has been in Steiff's catalog since 1909, and was given his “official” Steiff name, Jocko, in 1929. Over the years since his introduction, Jocko has been produced in sizes ranging from 10 cm to a whopping 150 cm, as well as a pull toy on wheels, a somersaulting chimp, a stringed marionette, a hand puppet and even a child’s handbag, among other treasured items.

Because the Jocko design has been around for more than a century, and its pattern is somewhat complex, it is not unusual to see slight variations on it over time. This may mean finding one in a color that is a little different from the standard brown or white versions, one is a fabric that is not traditional mohair, one that may have a distinctive expression or detailing, or even one in an unexpected size. Here are four of Steiffgal's favorite smaller first and second quarter 20th century Jockos; each one is special in his own way. All are 25 cm and fully jointed unless noted otherwise. Which of these fab four is your favorite?

1. Mystery Jocko
This first Jocko stands out aesthetically in several ways. First, Steiffgal has never seen his particular woolen fabric on any other Steiff item. It is very short, extremely dense, somewhat prickly, and an intense, lush brown - like dark chocolate or roasted coffee beans. Also unusual is his assembly; he has a slightly-to-the-left seam up his back shaped like the letter "J." Finally, his scale is chunky and his body is rather "V" shaped; broad shoulders tapering down to smallish hips. Traditional Jockos have more "H" shaped trunks from top to bottom. This peculiar primate retains his long trailing "f" Steiff button, very roughly dating him in the c. 1909 to 1936 time frame.

2. Work of Art Jocko
What makes this Jocko so eye catching is his amazing head detailing and coloration. His face is detailed with green and black glass pupil eyes set in eye pockets and a fuzzy white mohair chin. Jocko's face and ears truly come to life with delightful grey, pink, and black paint and airbrushing. He actually looks alive, and that he is making eye contact with you in real life! Work of Art Jocko has a distinctly innocent, childlike look to him that is rather precious and endearing. Prewar, Steiff made white Jockos in six sizes ranging from 10 to 25 cm from 1925 through 1943. 
Given his short trailing "f" button, Work of Art Jocko was most likely born in the late 1930s.

3. Oh Baby Jocko
This childlike chimp makes this exclusive list for his interesting ID - although his absolutely irresistible childlike expression is also a big plus! When Steiff resumed its toymaking business after the conclusion of WWII, most of its early production focused on pre-war best sellers. Of course, Jocko made this cut easily! Oh Baby Jocko has a very rare blank ear button as his ID, as well as a canvas "made in the US Zone" tag sewn into his leg seam. The company's early postwar blank buttons are quite rare and add tremendous collector and historical interest to any mid-century Steiff treasure. As suspected, Baby Jocko's IDs dates his departure from the Steiff factory around 1950, give or take a year or two. 

4. Ginger Prince Jocko
Unlike the other special Jockos noted above, this future king of the jungle Jocko measures 15 cm tall. He has a short trailing "f" button, most likely dating him to the late 1930s. You can't help but notice his AMAZING orange mohair. His fabric is backed in a light orange color, while the mohair strands are a lovely, deep orange color. He has faded a touch, but it is clear that he was "born" a glorious and unique (at least to Jockos) color. It is possible that Ginger Prince Jocko is distantly "related" to another preferred primate, Steiff's Mimocculo Orangutan, as they are both made from brilliant orange mohair. However, given that Steiff produced their smaller, non-eye moving Mimocculos only through 1933, that Mimocculo had a more elaborate facial construction, and that Ginger Prince Jocko most likely dates from the late 1930s... the two are more likely second or third cousins than brothers in this case!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on interesting 20th century Steiff Jockos has been more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

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