Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The "Maserati" Of Steiff Mobile Monkeys

Steiff Life readers, we are on a roll... both with Steiff collectibles on wheels as well as wonderful Steiff monkeys! Let's put the pedal to the metal here and get into the fast lane with this question from Gary, who writes from California:

"Hello,

I rec
eived the attached monkey a number of years ago as a gift and I was told that it was a Steiff item from the 1930's. I have searched a number of sites and found your site. It appears that you should have been I came to first to ask about the toy. I want to insure it, so I needed to know if it is real or a representation of a Steiff. Or, was it made by another company?

His details...the monkey is made from felt. He is about 8"
tall and long, and his carriage is about 6" tall and long. When you pull him along, he goes "up and down". His head is jointed and he has a tail. He retains his Steiff "button in ear."

Thank you in advance for you comments and thoughts on my
behalf."

This little driver here is what Richard Petty is to NASCAR...the KING of the road! Your Affe, or Monkey, was produced from 1912 through 1929 in two sizes, 17 and 22 cm. (Steiffgal guesses that you have the 22 cm version, which probably "shrunk" a bit over time, which happens sometimes with felt and excelsior stuffing.) He is made from brown felt, has a tan face and ears, and is head jointed. He has (or had) delicate airbrush detailing around his eyes and mouth. He wears a clown's neck ruff and pom-pom hat. He retains his Steiff button, placed on the exterior facing side of the ear, as was common in vintage Steiff monkeys. Monkey rides on a cart with wooden Steiff logo'ed "eccentric wheels", meaning that he bobs up and down when you pull him along.

Gary's felt monkey design is an early classic for Steiff. A similar but more primitive felt monkey made its debut in the catalog in 1894, two years after the first Steiff catalog debuted in 1892. This earlier design was updated and detailed with a playful neck ruff and hat in 1912 and appeared in one form or another through 1927. The hat and ruff accessorized felt monkey also appeared as a tumbler or roly-poly (sitting on a wooden half-ball which wobbles about but does not topple), on a wiwag (as one of two characters that rides on a carriage that moves along like a see-saw when pulled; the contemporary replica of this piece is pictured above), on a skittle (sitting atop a small "bowling pin"), and as a lapel pin (just the head).

As for the value of this majestically mobile monkey... just to repeat, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and strongly believes that something is "worth" what someone else will pay for it. Poor economic times tend to favor buyers over sellers; it's a really bad time financially to be a seller! However, this item is quite desirable and will never fall out of favor with collectors; you will always be able to find a new home for him. That all being said, Steiffgal has seen similar 1920's era felt items, and comparable items on wheels recently sell at auction in the $400 - 1,000 range (which seem really low... so hold on to him if you can!)

Gary, Steiffgal hopes that this "look under the hood" of your monkey on wheels gives you a good feel for his legacy, design, and history.

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

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