Thursday, July 16, 2009

Valuing The Gift of Legacy

It was like Christmas in July when Steiffgal opened this gift of a question from a reader concerning some now familiar "cold-loving canines." Janet from California writes...


I just read your blog entry about my C
hinook pair. I have attached photos. My sister needs to sell them they were left to her by her 94-year-old German mother in law who fled to the US in 1940... where might she turn to find an honest price for them?...

Thanks so much for ANY info!"

Well, when it rains it pours, or in this case, when it snows it's a blizzard! What a stunning pair of unusual vintage Steiff dogs. Steiff named these canines Chinook Byrds Arctic Expedition Dogs. Readers may recognize this model from a recent My Steiff Life blog posting; click here for the entire history and legacy of this remarkable and rare collectible.

Janet asks a really good question about how to determine a fair value for her Steiff heirlooms. First of all the disclosure: Steiffgal is not in any way an appraiser, just an avid collector and someone who follows auctions closely, so she cannot say with any authority how much any given Steiff item is "worth." This is also the WORST time to be selling collectibles due to the current economic situation, so if you can hold onto your items for awhile it would be good in terms of possible future sales value. That being said... here's Steiffgal's best advice for determining "ballpark" value in a nutshell:

If you have a Steiff item that was manufactured before WWll:

If the article is
in pretty good shape, and you cannot find anything like it online or on eBay, you may want to contact a REPUTABLE major auction house about the item. These include Sotheby's, Christie's, and Skinner, among others. Make sure they have a person on staff who specializes in older toys and playthings; this is critical for an accurate appraisal. DO NOT use a smaller local firm that does not understand the legacy and value of Steiff, even if this seems more convenient at the time. The larger houses may have doll or teddy auctions that will attract the type of buyer who would recognize the value of these items if you are looking to sell.

If you have a Steiff item that was manufactured after WWll:

In general, these items are in greater supply and much easier to value using online sources. Exceptions include very early postwar Teddies, studio (life-sized) animals, and really "oddball" items that were
produced only for a few years through the mid 1960's. If you are confident that you have one of these exceptions, see above advice for pre-war items.

There are a few online sources that can help you find approximate value for "newer" vintage Steiff items. These include Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion; a German auction house, and Vectis, an English auction house; both have frequent Steiff auctions and list sale prices after the event. It is safe to say that something is "worth" what someone else will pay for it, so a hammer price is a good starting place to assess current value.

However, Steiffgal always goes to first. There she does an "advanced search" and looks under "completed listings". There you can see what similar items have SOLD for in the recent past. (It is interesting to see what things are listed for pre-sale; but this doesn’t really tell you anything about the market value of them). After reviewing completed listings on the US eBay site, she then goes to the German eBay site for information on international completed listings.

You can do the same, here's how:

1. Go to
2. Click "Erwiterte Suche" on the top toolbar; you will be taken to a search page
3. Type the name of the Steiff item in the field right under the words "Suchbegriffe oder Artikelnummer eingeben" on the search page
4. Click the box next to the words "Beendete Angebote"
5. Press the blue box with the word "Finden" on it
6. You will be taken to a
sign in page
7. Enter your eBay user name in the field labeled "Mitgliedsname" and password in the field labeled "Passwort" on the sign in page
8. Press the blue box with the word "Einloggen" on it

You will now be looking at what sold on the German eBay site. Prices in green indicate that the item was sold; use the green figures as your pricing benchmarks. The prices listed on the German eBay site are in Euros; as a rule of thumb multiply the number of Euros by 1.4 to get the equivalent price in US dollars.

There are also a number of print reference books concerning Steiff. The most comprehensive include The Steiff Sortiment books; Steiffgal tends to use these for identification more so than valuing. Teddy bear books by Jurgen and Marianne Cieslik, Linda Mullens, Sue Pearson, Ken Yenke, and Leyla Maniera are all highly credible and great sources of information. At last check, Amazon had a healthy selection of titles from all these experts.

Janet, Steiffgal hopes this information is helpful to you as you determine the value behind the two "cold noses and warm hearts" of your precious Steiff collectibles.

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

1 comment:

  1. mary kirkpatrickMay 10, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    I had a Chinook lying down in perfect condition, collar, tag, button, hair,
    that I bought at a high school fair for $5.00 from an elderly gentleman
    who said it had always been on his parent's fireplace since he was a boy.
    I had it for about 10 years. Inadvertently, it ,along with other Steiffs, was put in a bag going to a charity shop by my cleaning lady. I hope they
    ended up in a family that appreciated the treasure.


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