Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Seeing Stripes Over This Studio-pendous Steiff Find!

There must be something big in the air. Why, you ask? Steiffgal has been getting loads of fantastic questions about Steiff studio animals lately! Just in the past few days, she has received largely proportioned inquires about life-sized Steiff bears, seals, elephants, and lions. But the one that really caught her eye, and things aren't usually this black or white - was a Steiff studio zebra! Check out this note from a reader from Sedalia, MO.

Mary writes...

"I am in th
e process of going through the estate of a passing family member. They have in their collection - of all things - a life-sized Steiff zebra.

The zebra stands approximately 46" tall and is 64" from head to tail. He has the Steiff button in his ear and is in very good condition. He is stuffed with wood shavings. He has two very small little spots on him - no bigger than half the size of your pinkie finger - that are torn. He must be mohair as he is very stiff and "wooly" feeling. But he really is in great shape, heavy and not worn.

We know nothing as
far as history of this item and can't find anything online with any information on any Steiff items concerning his size, age, edition size, and value. Any possible help would be greatly appreciated as we have a lot of local interest in the piece but just don't know what to do.

Thanks, Mary "

Wow, this beast has r
oamed far from his native plains of Africa to the heartland of the United States! He is indeed fabulous and if Steiffgal lived closer to Missouri she'd be interested in him too!

Clearly, what you have here is Steiff's studio zebra.
He is standing, made from off-white mohair which has been painstakingly hand stenciled with black stripes. He has a shortly cropped white mane down his back; his e
ars and tail are detailed with slightly longer black plush. He was made in 100 cm in 1960 and in 150 cm in 1960 and again in 1967.

These types of vintage Steiff studio pieces are not "limited editions" in the traditional sense of the word. But because of their size, cost, and logistics, very few were made per item. This zebra was carefully hand stuffed with excelsior. This is a delicate and time consuming process given the that the tool used for the stuffing is a long metal or wooden "poker" stick that can easily pierce the mohair fabric. Given his size, it may have taken a strong man up to two weeks or so to stuff and sculpt him by hand. It is very very labor intensive - and as a result costly - to make these studio sized items.

It is also interesting here to note that inside this zebra is a sturdy metal framed skeleton, strong enough when new to hold a regular sized adult. (But don't try this now, as he is vintage and you don't want to test the half century old welding or mohair!)

Steiff studio pieces from this zebra's era were very often used as store window displays.
Steiffgal has also heard that some pediatricians used studio animals during the 1950-70's in their offices, too, to promote a friendly and playful atmosphere. Steiffgal's shoe store growing up had a Steiff studio giraffe as a focal point.

As for value, Steiffgal is not a formally trained appraiser and sincerely believes something is "worth" what someone else will pay for it, especially when it comes to vintage collectibles.
That being said, he looks to be in good shape and assuming he doesn't have any additional rips, smells, sagging, or other issues, Steiffgal would probably value him in the $1,500 to $2,000 range in today's slowly improving marketplace. In 2004, the same zebra sold at action for a little over $1,500, but the market has been up and down so much since then it's hard to be more precise. However, he is unusual and rare and shouldn't lose value over the long run.

Steiffgal hopes that she stayed between the lines in sharing this exceptional Steiff studio treasure with you!

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


  1. SG
    I think I'll save my posts for your blog. You are amazing as usual. Well written, I know you will go far on this wonderful internet. I love the zebra....can you imagine finding him in the attic??

  2. Many thanks! It's easy to write a fun and informative column when you have such great material to work with! =)

  3. The zebra are very very nice great item thank you regards jürgen

  4. He is up for sale on ebay! Auction #320495533105 hopefully a collector that will truely appreciate him wins the auction!

  5. It reminded me when I had a zebra like that in my bedroom, it was because had been a gift of my boyfriend because I love animals special the big ones.

  6. Wow I too have this Zebra and have looked on line for years trying to find a picture of him! I bought it at an Antique shop 20 years ago for $ 75.00 because the dealer couldn't find the value anywhere either. Mine isn't in as good of shape as the antique dealer had laid it on the basement floor and he got some spotting.:( But I have always thought he was so neat. Tag is in his ear also. Some ripping. It's neat to finally find one!


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