Sunday, November 1, 2009

In An Ideal World...

In an Ideal world, would every wonderful mohair collectible be a Steiff? Well, take a look at this inquiry from a reader from Patterson, Missouri concerning her 100 year old friend and you decide! Susan writes...

"Found your
blog online and I'm very glad I did. I'd like to know more about my bear and would appreciate any help you can give me. Here's the scoop on him...

Tag: He does not have a tag or any other identification label.


Size: He is approximately
12" lying down straight and approximately 7" sitting up. His feet are 2" heel to toe.

Details of piece: He has boot button eyes and a stitched brown triangular nose. Both appear to be original. He does not have a stitched mouth. It's hard to tell the number of stitched claws on his hands and feet as it looks like some are missing. His right foot felt has large hole and you can see brown fiber looking stuffing. He has a few minor moth holes on his other felt pieces. He has a front center hand sewn seam up his belly.

Construction: I can see inside one hip joint and it looks like it's put together with a round cardboard piece. His head has center seam below nose, two se
ams on the back, and center seam on front and back of torso.

His s
tory: A friend's father was selling out to move and told his kids they could have anything they wanted. Nobody wanted the little bear with the sweet face so I asked if I could have him and they all said yes. My friend's mother and father would be in their mid 80's now, dad from Tennessee and mom from Kentucky. Bear was probably his mom's I'm guessing, but I don't know for sure. To me he has always looked like a Steiff, maybe a 1905, but I've never seen a picture of one exactly like him.

If you could help identify him I'd be very appreciative.
I've attached some pictures.

Please let me know if you need anymore information.


I thank you in advance."


Teddy bears are truly global ambassadors of goodwill - and like ambassadors themselves, can come from all parts of the world. Steiffgal believes that this terrific Ted does not hail from Germany and is not Steiff (which is totally OK!!!). It is her very best guess that he was made in the USA under the American brand called Ideal. Ideal (or specifically The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company) was started in New York in 1903 by Rose and Morris Michtom and was a direct competitor with Steiff in the Teddy bear marketplace basically up through the late 1930's. The company stopped doing business in the early 1980's.

Susan's Teddy, pictured here on the left, has very typical features that highlight some design differences between early Steiff and Ideal bears:

Early Steiff bears have long thin hand paws that taper and angle at at the wrists; Ideal bears have thicker, straighter, and smaller hand paws.

Early Steiff bears have long narrow feet which are typically made in a 1:5 ratio of body length to feet; Ideal bears have smaller, broader, rounder feet.

Early Steiff bears generally have their ears placed higher up on the head; Ideal bears are set more on the side of the head.

Early Steiff bears have more rounded heads, proportional muzzles, and smaller noses; Ideal bears have "triangular" heads, large shaved muzzles, and prominent triangular noses.

Steiff used black stitching on early blond bears (and brown on white ones); Ideal used different color stitching to detail their products.

This Teddy, although not Steiff, is "ideal" in many ways. Vintage Ideal bears are relatively rare and hard to come by, making them quite collectible and desirable. And don't just take Steiffgal's word on that. In 2002, the United States postal service honored the 100th anniversary of the Teddy bear by creating a series of first class stamps featuring four "terrific toy Teds" all manufactured in the US. One of those featured bears included a 1905 Ideal Teddy, owned by well known Teddy bear collectors Paul and Rosemary Volpp. This Ideal Teddy stamp is pictured here on the left.

Susan, Steiffgal hopes this identification meets with your stamp of approval!

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

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