Monday, July 6, 2009

Playing Sherlock Holmes

Steiffgal certainly loves detective work, so she was delighted to receive this question about a vintage family heirloom from a reader. This Teddy on-the-go is somewhat "Steiff-y" but not entirely. Read the clues... what do you think?

Lilly from Michigan writes:

"Any help you could give me on this bear would be greatly appreciated. My mother was born in Stuttgar
t in the 1950's and believes this bear was either bought for her in the late 50's or my grandmother bought it for me in the 80's. She had quite a few Steiff animals but doesn't recall much about this one. He looks to be in pretty good condition for being 30-50 years old :)

...the bear does not have a Steiff chest tag, button, and/or eartag but the red string that used to hold a tag is still there. He is 18 inches tall and about 2 feet long from nose to tail. He is not plush. He's pretty solid feeling, and one of his wheels is no longer attached and missing what I would call the hub cap.

Thank you!"

Steiffgal is is 100% sure about one thing and 90% sure about another in reference to your question.

First, she is 100% sure that this bear is not a Steiff product. The body shape, facial details, and carriage structure are not of Steiff design and configuration.

Now to the 90% sure stuff.
After much research and comparison, Steiffgal is pretty confident that your riding bear was made by another German company called Hermann. (Hermann is a multi-branched family company and has been in business for over 100 years. Th
ey make wonderful toys and highly prized collector's products. The history of the company is complicated and very interesting!) Your bear's face, with his prominent muzzle and "pouty" shaped stitched mouth, is typical to "traditional" vintage Hermann Teddy designs.

Additionally, you mention a red tag string. Hermann was known for attaching its labels and ID to its products via a red string. In general, Steiff attaches its chest tags to its products via a few neutral color stitches or a clear plastic staple.

Steiff did make a reitbaer, or Riding Bear, from 1966 through 1983 that distantly resembles your possibly Hermann bear in size and assembly. Check out the picture of this bear on the right. Competing toymakers tend to create similar designs in tandem. Thus, it's Steiffgal's best guess that your Teddy is from around the same time period as this reitbaer. More specifically, she feels that your bear is more likely from the 80's than from the 50's. At least with Steiff, larger ride-on items from the 80's tend to have more "modern" metallic wheels while those from the 1950's usually sport wooden wheels.

Lilly, Steiffgal hope that this detective work unravels some of the mystery behind your great family treasure!

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


  1. my daughter just saw all of the stuffed animals and flipped out, now she wants them!



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