Monday, May 11, 2009

Twice as Nice: Auction Highlights 5/4-5/10/09

This week's pair of auction highlights have something really fun in common - they are "two-fers!" Each has not one, but two really interesting features or stories behind it! So let's redouble our efforts and take a look at these wonderful bogo (buy one, get one) collectibles.

First on the highlight list is this simply magnificent Eskimo doll. He is not only an authentic Steiff felt and mohair treasure from the early part of last century, he is also a piece of exploration history. The doll is 35 cm and is fully jointed. His hair, body, arms, legs, and hoodie are made from mohair and his center-seamed face, glove like hands, and feet are made from felt. This childlike Eskimo was produced from 1908 through 1919, piggy-backing on the commercial excitement surrounding Admiral Peary's race to the geographic north pole. According to the pictures and description associated with this auction, Eskimo is in excellent condition relative to his age and retains his Steiff ff button. He received 15 bids and sold for $1,733.

Admiral Peary's arctic adventures captured the imagination of the world and Steiff followed suit with a number of polar themed items in the 1908 - 1919 time frame. These included lifelike polar bears; this Eskimo doll in 5 sizes (28 - 60 cm); a somersaulting Eskimo doll; native guide dolls in authentic trekking attire; a Frederick Cook doll (a competing polar researcher), and even a Peary doll himself!

Traditionally, Steiff has used current events as inspiration for new products. After all, Steiff Teddies can partially credit Clifford Berryman's 1902 cartoon of Teddy Roosevelt "not hunting" for their appearance and popularity a century later! Other news-y examples include Billy Possum, Laika the Space Dog, and even Knut the Polar Bear.

Now let's chill out a bit and head off to the beach. Take a fly-by on this terrific mobile. This piece not only incorporates seagulls, a rare Steiff species (only 5 models have appeared in the catalog from 1913 - present) , but is also a decorating accessory - not a plaything. This kinetic collectible consists of three miniature black, white, and gray seagulls, suspended at different lengths from clear nylon string. Each 3 x 3 cm bird has a woolie pompom body and head and a felt beak, tail, wings, and feet. The one button and flag on the piece can be found at the top of the mobile where the nylon string ends for hanging. According to the pictures and description associated with this auction, the mobile is in pristine condition and has its button and yellow Steiff flag. It received 13 bids and sold for $155.02.

The late 60's through the mid 70's were the heyday for mobiles and a great time to hang out with Steiff. This seagull mobile was produced from 1974 - 1976. From what I can find, two mobile models debuted in 1969, one with five woolie fish and another with four woolie hummingbirds. Seagulls, ravens, and bat versions quickly followed suit. All are highly sought after by collectors as their delicate construction makes them quite rare today.

So thank you, and thanks again, for stopping by this week to learn about these doubly delectable Steiff collectibles!

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