Monday, June 22, 2009

They're GRRReat!

Steiffgal couldn't help but think of Kellogg's "Tony The Tiger" character when she got this wonderful email inquiry from a reader about a family heirloom Steiff. Like Tony, when asked what she thinks of Steiff's "striped sweethearts", Steiffgal enthusiastically says...."they're great!" With that catty introduction, take a look at this note from Amanda from Halifax, NS, Canada. She writes:

"Hi!

I stumbled upon your site while looking up some information on my Steiff. He was given to my sister and I when we were ~8-9 years old when we lived in Maine. (approximately 1989) He wasn't in great shape when we got him, but we also did some damage to him by "riding" on him! I haven't been able to find much information on this big guy so I would appreciate any information you have.

He is, of course, a tiger, sitting at approximately 3 feet tall. I have learned that he is Studio Size. His hair is rubbed off in places and his left leg is slightly bent forward because of us sitting on him. He seems to be stuffed with excelsior(?) with a hard wire frame within (thus why his leg is permanently bent.) He is constructed of mohair. He had original glass day-glow eyes which were lost over time, and also a Steiff button in his ear which was also lost when his ear was ripped. When I acquired him from my parents a couple of years ago I decided to have him restored by a local professional. These are the repairs she made:
  • Replace left ear with mohair
  • Replace eyes with day-glow glass eyes
  • Replace fabric patch on front feet with mohair
  • Slightly shorten tail as the end had rotted and had holes
  • Restitch nose
  • Replace whiskers
  • Clean and brush
She did an excellent job on this guy - I paid $100.00 CND, in which she offered to buy him from me for $350.00 CND - this is the only idea of value I have had on him. Love him to death though and we will never sell him. I appreciate any information you have on this guy. I have attached photos of the "after" shots, I can't seem to find my "before" photos at the moment, but could get them if you need them with further digging. I am also interested on how/where to purchase a replacement button for his ear.

Thanks
!"

Amanda, what you have here is a Steiff Bengal Tiger. Steiff produced Bengal Tigers in three sizes ( 14, 22, and 45 cm) from 1959 through 1961. These mohair tigers are sitting, have distinctive green eyes, a pink vertically stitched nose, and open felt lined pink mouth with four distinct wooden teeth. They have magnificent, hand stenciled stripes and delicate airbrush detailing on their bodies. Steiffgal feels the Bengals have a softer, more playful persona than other Steiff tigers produced around the same time, which tended to have a fiercer, more realistic look to them. Bengals are coveted by collectors; a 43 cm one in relatively good condition just sold at auction for close to $300.

So what about his size? The really cool added bonus here is that Steiffgal believes that your Bengal is a very unusual Studio (life sized or display) piece. Because of his proportions, it may have taken a strong man a few days or even a week to carefully hand stuff him with excelsior (adding significantly to his original cost.) Steiffgal cannot find any reference to the 3 foot (approximately 90 cm) version owned by your family. However, in 1967, Steiff did produce a more conventional looking 90 cm sitting tiger, and it is cataloged as a "Schautier", or a display animal. So it is pretty safe to say that your sitting 90 cm Bengal Tiger is a Schautier as well!

And why doesn't he appear in Steiff references? Steiff is known for producing beautiful, high quality items for both consumers and for businesses. It is very possible that your Bengal Tiger was produced in a very limited run (anywhere from maybe 1 - 25 pieces) as a special order for a store as a display piece or as part of a window decoration. Sometimes these custom pieces just didn't get recorded as part of the general inventory, which makes them even more special to collectors. Steiffgal herself also has one of these uncataloged Studio display pieces in the form of a 90 cm Baboon, which was produced as part of a window display on the theme of "The Peaceable Kingdom" for a department store in the 1960's.

And replacing the button? Sorry, your Bengal is beautiful without it. Steiff won't sell replacement buttons; they simply are not available from the company. You may find one on eBay or online somewhere else, but Steiffgal highly recommends leaving him be.

Amanda, I hope that you continue to love and cherish your "big baby", and that this information further reinforces how special he truly is!

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

4 comments:

  1. It seems the images are referencing in Gmail.. I think you need to upload them from your desktop.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi
    I am trying to find information about a life size grizzly bear on all 4 paws. Steiff produced him 10 years ago. I have purchasedone second hand froma shop in Australia and want to put him on display in a hospital but am trying to find out how many were made and any details on him.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am trying to find information about a life size grizzly bear on all 4 paws.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have one of the life size tigers and my store recently burned during a break in, I am heartbroken what can I do to restore my tiger?

    ReplyDelete

The teddy bear search engine