Friday, June 11, 2010

Jumping Through Hoops For More Information on Steiff Tigers

It's not that often that collectors come across one magnificent, half-century old Steiff studio animal.  So imagine Steiffgal's wild delight when she received this note about three life-sized Steiff "jungle brothers!"  Take a look at this inquiry from John, who writes from Chicago, Illinois...


I would love your input on the 3 large vintage Steiff tigers pictured in the attached images. I've looked in several online catalogs and haven't found comparable items.

They are approximately 45" long, hard fill, and have round Steiff paper labels reading "Mottenecht Durch / Eulan / Bayer / Steiff / Original Marke / "Original Steiff." 

The leaping tiger is on a metal rod and somewhere we have a hoop that attaches to the rod so that he's "jumping through" the hoop.

Any idea what we have, how much they might be worth? Any expert input would be welcome.

Thanks in advance, 


John, your streak of tigers (literally the word for a group of these big cats) would certainly get the adrenaline pumping in any Steiff enthusiast!  

Let's first take a relaxed look at the lying down tigers.  These terrific life-sized twins are 80 cm and made from mohair.  They are unjointed and hand stuffed with excelsior (wood shavings).  Their black striping was done entirely by hand.  Their faces are truly remarkable.  Each has the famous Steiff "glow in the dark" green eyes, a vertically stitched pink nose, and an open, peach felt lined mouth detailed with four pointy teeth.  It is very interesting to note in the picture how similar - and different - these two tigers are in appearance.   Because these Steiff studio tigers were made entirely by hand, over the course of several days, each truly takes on a life and personality of his own.  Just another example of the magic of Steiff craftsmanship.  These tigers appeared in the catalog in 1960 and again in 1967. 

Steiff really fleshed out their "cat"alog of prone studio-sized jungle cats about the same time as John's lying tigers made their appearances.  Fellow felines included 90 and 110 cm mohair lions in 1960 and 1967; an 80 cm mohair lioness in 1960 and 1967; an 80 cm mohair leopard in 1967; and an 80 cm plush panther in 1967.

Steiffgal is jumping for joy to tell John more about his third tiger.  This acrobatic animal is Steiff's jumping studio tiger.  Like his brothers above, he is also 80 cm but in an athletic, jumping position.  He shares their detailed facial characteristics and construction details.  This jumping tiger was produced in 1953, 1960, and 1967.

One of the things that makes this tiger so interesting is that he is designed to appear to be in suspended animation; i.e., jumping through a hoop.  Steiffgal is not able to recall any other studio piece that defies gravity quite like this one!  Steiff did this in a rather clever way, given the size and weight of the tiger, and the desired visual effect. The tiger has a metal rod stand embedded in his belly, which balances him off the ground on a three pronged stand.  The hoop attaches onto the metal stand a few inches underneath his belly, giving the illusion of him jumping through the hoop.  The picture above on the left is from Gunther Pfieffer's Steiff Sortiment Book 1947-2003 and shows what he looks like "in action".  

As for value and collectivity, these tigers - to quote Tony the Tiger - are grrreat!  As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and strongly believes that something is worth what someone else would actually pay for it. The lying down tigers, given their age, condition, and duality, are interesting from a collector's perspective.  And tigers and studio items have always been fan favorites among enthusiasts.  That all being said, Steiffgal would guestimate that each would be valued in the $500-1,000 range. As for the jumping tiger, that's a little harder to say given how unusual he is and how infrequently he comes up on the market.  Steiffgal would guestimate that he would value in the $1,200-$2,000 range, given John has all the metal hardware associated with his display.

Steiffgal hopes this Steiff safari featuring these terrific tigers has been a studio-pendous treat for you!

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

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