Sunday, April 19, 2009

Getting a Leg Up: Auction Highlights 4/13-4/19/09

Shake a leg and take a look at this week's auction highlights. These three beauties are my star picks of the week and share something special in common... they all have very noteworthy lower limbs!

Long limbed lovely #1:
This unusual item is Lulac Donkey, who was only produced in 1954 as a United States exclusive. This fantastic farm friend is 35 cm, made of grey mohair, has an open felt-lined mouth, and really long, dangling limbs and tail. According to the description and photos associated with the auction, he is in very good to excellent condition and retains some of his yellow ear tag and his Steiff button. He received 11 bids and sold for $371.99

Steiff debuted the "lulac" body style in 1951 in the form of a rabbit. This donkey followed shortly after, and is one of the earliest manifestations of this design. In addition to this donkey, Steiff produced several additional lulac animals as United States exclusives in the late 1950's including an elephant, tiger, poodle, and lion; these were most likely available through high end toy stores like FAO Schwarz. Steiff fans almost universally look up to these rare "tall drinks of water" as "must haves" for their collection.

Long legged lovely #2:
It's hard not to fawn over this precious baby. This darling deer appeared in the Steiff catalog from 1954 through 1955 only. She is 14 cm, unjointed, made from airbrushed mohair, and has a really endearing, relaxed body position. This same model was also available in a 17 cm size. According to the description and photos associated with the auction, she is in very good to excellent condition and has her chest tag; it is unclear if she has her ear tag or button. She received 6 bids and sold for the bargain hammer price of $54.74.

It is interesting to note that this fawn has a single white horizontal stitch across her nose as a highlight. Collectors might recognize this detail which is an important design feature of Steiff's famous "Jackie" Teddy bear design, which debuted just a year earlier in 1953.

(Not so long) legged lovely #3:
Doggonit, this one's got legs, and she knows how to use them! Making her SteiffLife, and possibly worldwide debut, is this very distinctive poodle. This "best of show" candidate is 28 cm tall, five ways jointed, made from thick black mohair, and has a really unusual open pink felt mouth with a red felt tongue. Her legs are bent in a squatting or begging position. She has all of her ID's: a chest tag, raised script Steiff button, and her ear tag with article number 4328. According to the description and photos associated with the auction, she is in excellent condition and has her chest tag, raised script button, and ear tag with article number 4328. She received 23 bids and sold for a whopping $433.00.

Why? As far as I can tell, she is not currently documented in any of the Steiff Sortiment reference books. I have looked high and low for any information on her but have come up empty pawed. Steiff items that appear "out of the blue" without history or documentation are extremely desirable to collectors. She may be one of those really rare pieces that somehow was not cataloged; perhaps she is a sample of an item that was never produced; or maybe she was a one of a kind item made as a gift and never meant for wide scale production and distribution. We'll never know for sure, but what we do know is that whoever got her is certainly one lucky dog!

I've run out of leg room for the column; so long until next week. Oh, and to all the runners in tomorrow's Boston Marathon, welcome to New England... and by all means, break a leg!

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