Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Teddy bears every-wheres

I had the pleasure of meeting and informally appraising two new Teddy friends last weekend; one expected and one via pure serendipity.

The expected friend:
A colleague who works on a volunteer board with me mentioned that she had an old Teddy in the family, and she thought that perhaps he was a Steiff. She offered to bring him down from the attic if I were interested in viewing him. She mentioned that the Teddy was her father's, and was probably at least 90 years old, and was in "pretty bad" shape. With great excitement, I said "of course!"

We agreed upon a meeting time, and I walked to her home, my trusty Sortiment reference book and a vintage Steiff Teddy of my own in hand.

All I can say was that it was love at first sight. When I entered her living room, there he was... a magnificent c. 1907 60cm cinnamon Steiff Teddy in almost pristine condition! This museum quality bruin had all the "right stuff"; thick curly mohair, black shoebutton eyes, prominent upper back hump, a vertically stitched nose, long curved paws, big toddling feet, and that unmistakable Steiff look, feel, and construction. The frosting on the cake was his remarkable, handmade jacket and suspender pants, somewhat reminiscent of those worn by the famous red "Alfonzo" of Teddy Bears of Whitney fame. His only signs of age were the unfortunate loss of his button and a tear in the mohair on one of his legs. Not bad for a 102 year old cub!

I explained to the owner why her treasure had far more than family and sentimental value, and gave her some preservation, display, and repair suggestions. I think she felt as if the team from "Antiques Roadshow" had paid a surprise visit to her living room... and really liked what they had to say.

The serendipitous friend:
As I left my friend's house, vintage Teddy and Sortiment in hand, I felt that the day simply could not get any better. Sometimes it's nice to be wrong.

As I was walking back towards my home, two lovely women who were out for a Sunday stroll dashed across the street to take a look at my Teddy. I told them that I was knowledgeable about Steiff and had just paid a Teddy housecall to one of their neighbors. They started talking quite animatedly about their own Steiff Teddies, and one of them asked if I had time to visit her home right up the street to see her old family Teddy. How intriguing... I couldn't get the word "yes" out of my mouth fast enough!

We entered her beautiful home, went up stairs to the guest bedroom, and there he was ... my second "love at first sight" of the day. Holding court in an antique wooden chair was her c. 1920's 60cm blonde mohair Steiff Teddy. Unlike my first Teddy introduction of the day, this Steiff was more patches and stitches than anything else, but he had a wonderful sense of dignity, age, and history. His ears had been reattached to his head and you could find a little black stitching on his nose and mouth area, if you looked really closely. His disk jointing could be seen through the delicate cotton backing of his mohair. This Teddy lived life "paws on", and had certainly seen alot of things through his wobbly eyes which had been replaced several times over. Augmenting his charm was his handmade vintage Santa Claus suit, which his owner kept on him permanently to maintain holiday cheer year-round.

Although this Teddy lacked the collectibility and certain book value of the earlier bear, he more than made up for it in legacy and character.

So Steiff lightning CAN strike twice in one day.

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

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that you were able to meet those two bears. I can imagine how delightful that would be!
    I look forward to reading more about your Steiff Life!


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