Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Great Ox-idental Steiff Find!

Sometimes you find great Steiff items just where you would expect.  And sometimes, at least for an astute reader in a land far away, you find them quite by ox-ident.  Take a look at this note from Emmanuelle, from Dublin, Ireland who writes about her wonderful Steiff treasure.

"Dear Steiffgal,

What a lovely blog you have! I only knew of Steiff toys and happened to find one but since I visited your site, I feel like falling in love! :D
So this is the little treasure I found at a car boot sale in England. It looks like it's a classic cow on wheels. It's in fair condition but as one says, 'well loved'!

Would you be able to date it? I'm also looking at insuring it with another set of treasured items, what do you think is the value range? Lucky me, I only got it for 5 pounds!!

Many thanks in advance.

All the best,


Well, Steiffgal would like to say "Holy Cow" to your remarkable discovery, but that wouldn't technically be correct.   What you have here is actually a Steiff Ochse, or Ox on wheels. This barnyard beauty is unjointed and made from brown and white mohair.  He has black button eyes, felt horns, and when new, light nostril stitching.  She is relatively rarely seen, despite being in the Steiff line for 46 years.  Pre-war, he was produced in 14,17, 22, 28, 35, 43, 50, 60, and 80 cm from 1909 through 1943.  Post-war, he was one of the first items manufactured by the company once the factory reopened again in the late 1940's; he was made in 43 and 50 cm from 1949 through 1961. Depending on his size and years of production, he came on metal wheels, wooden wheels, and metal disk wheels with rubber tires.    

Like most Steiff treasures, the secret to this Ox's age lies in his button.  He sports the pre-war "trailing f" button, meaning that the bottom of last "f" in "Steiff" trails backward in a large arch.  This button was used approximately between 1906 and about 1934/1935.  So, if you overlay his pre-war production dates:  1909 through 1943, and his approximate button dates: 1906 through 1934/1935, he must have been made between 1909 and 1934/1935.  This is still quite a big time frame, however.  One way to skinny this down even further is to measure the actual button; Steiff used a 4 mm trailing f button until around 1927 and an 8 mm trailing f button from 1925 through 1934/1935.  Given the proportions of the button to the ear in the picture above, Steiffgal estimates that his button is the 8 mm size, dating him in the 1925 through 1934/1935 time frame.

Now for the question that always puts Steiffgal out to pasture... what is he worth? As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and strongly believes that something is worth what someone else would actually pay for it. So technically he may be worth the 5 pounds (about $7.23 USD) that lucky Emmanuelle paid for him!   Steiffgal has seen this ox on wheels in collector's reference books, but never   actually in person, for sale, or at auction. With that in mind, Steiffgal would venture to say that he would be valued in the $300-600 range, given his rarity, relatively good condition, and the fact that he still has his button after all this time. Overall, quite the return on investment!

Steiffgal hopes that you have enjoyed this cattle-tattle - and that's no bull!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, from the farm or otherwise? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful find!! Can you imagine. Since I started reading your blog, as I shop flea markets and malls, I examine the old stuffed toys much closer than I did before. Thank you for the continuing education. Just super!!


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