Friday, April 2, 2010

A Classified Steiff Purchase

To buy or not to buy, that is the question that Steiffgal was facing in regards to a possible Steiff purchase. At first glance, the classified posting seemed legitimate enough, the price was fair, and the item - if it was as suspected - would be a dream to own. But... buying online, sight unseen on Craig's List from a complete stranger in a different state... sounds pretty risky, don't you think? Have you as a collector faced the same conundrum?

So what to do? Well, Steiffgal did end up making the purchase (which she will gleefully share with you in just a bit) but not before she conducted a whole series of inquires to make sure that the item was exactly as advertised. Although there are no guarantees in life, here are three basic things to ask a seller about a potential Steiff purchase that can help you decide whether to move forward or not with the transaction:

1. Ask the seller to send you at least three CLEAR pictures of the item: a shot of the face, a full
frontal view, and a full side view. This is important so you can check the general state of the item, the condition of the mohair, plush, and/or felt, and other detailing like the presence or absence of eyes, facial and paw stitching, and airbrushing.

2. Ask the seller to give the item the "sniff" test for bad odors and the "squeeze" test for structural integrity; both are really important as a thumbs down in either area usually indicates fundamental issues with the piece.

3. And fin
ally ask the seller to accurately describe any Steiff ID on the item. If they are not able to do so, or claim that their camera cannot "take pictures that small", send them .jpgs of different Steiff chest tags and/or buttons and ask them to determine which most closely matches the one(s) on their item for sale; it is easy to find samples of these online.

If the seller is not willing to help you with the above items, chances are this is a red flag that you should pass on the purchase opportunity.

Steiffgal wants to thank you for sitting and staying with this post to this point... now she will throw you a bone and tell you about her recent classified advertising purchase! What Steiffgal found on Craig's List is none other than a really tiny pre-war Fox Fox Terrier! This cute-as-a-button canine is 7 cm, standing, unjointed, and made from white mohair. Fox has black mohair ears and two black airbrushed spots: one just above her tail and one around her left eye. She has tiny glass pupil eyes and a simple black stitched nose and mouth. She retains her original squared off bear's head chest tag and silk ribbon. Fox was made from 1933 through 1943 in 7, 10, and 14 cm.

One of the things that make this find so special is her size. As far as Steiffgal can tell, this petite pooch is the smallest size dog Steiff has ever produced commercially. Before the war, Steiff produced many of its most popular dog patterns, including Molly, Treff, Charly, Bully, Fox, and Fellow, in 7 cm. These really tiny, adorable models are highly sought after by collectors and are relatively hard to come by... probably because they were designed as playthings and got worn out or lost over time. After the war, the vast majority of Steiff dogs in the late 1940's - early 1950's line started out in size at 10 or 12 cm. Notable exceptions include Foxy Fox Terrier (produced in 7 cm in 1949, then in 8 cm through 1959), an 8 cm Terry Airedale, an 8 cm Peky Pekingese (pictured here on the left) and a 9 cm Hexie Dachshund.

Steiffgal hopes this dogged advice on classified ad postings enables you to go safely fetch some exciting finds for your Steiff collection!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, no matter how procured? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

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