Sunday, April 5, 2009

Steiff Triple Play: Auction Highlights 3/30-4/5/09

Our "boys of summer" kick off their season tomorrow, so of course baseball is on everyone's mind around here. The national pastime has several things associated with threes, including strikes and bases, to name a few. So does this week's installment of auction highlights... three marvelous items each produced during or before the third decade of last century.

So let's play ball!

Batting first...
Here we have a wonderful 17cm white and gold sitting mohair "Bully" with a distinctive horsehair collar. This model, which came in sizes ranging from 10 to 50 cm, was produced from 1927 through 1931. Bully was a popular character at the time; Steiff produced him on wheels, with a tail-turns-head mechanism, as a pincushion, with a music box, and as a handbag, among other designs. He was also produced in velvet and a variety of different colors, including blue. This Bully retains his original bell and Steiff "ff" button, and appears to be in excellent condition according to the copy and photos associated with the auction. Bully received 19 bids and sold for $1,826.

Batting second...
Rabbits have always been prominent in the Steiff catalog, perhaps because Easter is a very important holiday in Germany. This darling harbinger of spring is 11 cm, made of tan mohair (probably white or maize originally, but mohair can fade), and has brown glass pupil eyes, a pink floss nose outlined in red, and a red stitched mouth. Like most rabbits, this one is associated with many siblings; her model (produced from 1926-1932) was made in four sizes (11, 15, 18, and 23 cm) and seven seasonal colors (brown, pink, blue, lilac, gold/white, white, and maize). This bunny retains her "ff" button and appears to be in very good to excellent condition according to the copy and photos associated with the auction. This collectible received 13 bids and sold for $202.49.

Batting third.... a remarkable and seldom seen collectible. This is the 35 cm felt Dachau Farmer, a five ways jointed doll Steiff produced from 1908 through 1928. (As a side note, this particular Dachau farmer design was also produced as a 29 cm roly-poly from 1909-1917.)

Steiff produced many felt figures from the early 1900's through the 1930's. These models were more reflective of occupations and culture (shepherds, stone cutters, tailors, butchers, shoemakers, soldiers, students, etc.) than playful designs for children. Steiff made at least eight distinct farmers from different geographic areas, indicating how important this profession was at the turn of last century.

This farmer is fully attired in a felt suit and has handmade leather boots and a dapper chapeau. One really interesting thing about this item is the button detailing on his shirt... a series of Steiff "ff" buttons! (See closeup photo to the left.) I have seen Steiff buttons as detailing on shoes, collars, and belts, but never on shirts. The farmer has his "ff" button in ear. Considering his age and how fragile felt can be, he appears to be in excellent condition according to the copy and photos associated with the auction. This rarity received 18 bids and sold for $1,361.96.

Cleaning up...
So here's to a grand-slam, ffantasic week of "ff" Steiff auction highlights and to a home-run of a collecting, (and baseball), season ahead.

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