Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crazy Like A Fox Over This Vintage Steiff Collectible

Red-dy or not, here comes another great question from a Steifflife reader about a recently discovered family treasure. Let's not be sly and unfox this mystery right away!  Through a series of correspondences, Lindsey writes...

"Hello Steiffgal,

I recently found a Steiff standing unjointed red fox with button in ear but no other tags. It belonged to my mother in law who is 80 but I have no idea of its age or value and couldn't find anything comparable on eBay.  It is old just not sure how old.

He measures 12 1/2 inches height from tip of paw to tip of ear.  From tip of tail which is quite bushy to tip of nose he is about 16 inches. His head swivels around. The button says Steiff on it.  No other tags. His chest, belly,  ears, and tail are covered in softer fur.  He has black accents. 

Many thanks for your help!"

Let's just say Steiffgal is crazy like a fox over this fabulous family find... and for good reason!  This red fox is very interesting for a number of reasons, let's take a closer look at who he is and the legacy behind him.

First of all, what Lindsey has here is Steiff's Fuchs, or Fox from 1960 only. This red rarity is 29 cm, standing, head jointed, and made from bright red and white mohair.  The tips of his ears and his feet are detailed with black airbrushing.  He has brown and black pupil eyes, simple nose and mouth stitching, and mono filament whiskers.

Well all of that sounds well and good, but what makes him so outstanding from a collector's perspective?  This fox is one of the limited edition products Steiff created for the upscale toy retailer FAO Schwarz.  Steiff and FAO Schwarz have been partners since the turn of last century; the first Steiff products appeared in the retailer's New York store in 1906.  Starting in the mid-1950's, Steiff began creating a series of very special collectibles exclusively for FAO Schwarz.  These toys went "over and beyond" Steiff's usual level of creativity and quality, and often were detailed with exceptional mohair, unusual materials, fine clothing, and other high-end detailing.  These items in general were made in limited quantities and distributed only through the FAO Schwarz stores and catalogs, thus adding significantly to their rarity and desirability to collectors all around the world. 

The period between the mid-1950's and the mid-1970's may be considered the "heyday" of remarkable collaborations between FAO Schwarz and Steiff. Noteworthy exclusive items from that time period, in addition to Lindsey's red fox, include a series of dog and cat families resting on pillows in wicker baskets; the "city mouse, country mouse" playsets; a walrus pajama bag; a series of costumed mice, some appearing as a bride, a clown, and a princess, among others; a standing studio fox, and a series of dressed bears.  In addition to the standard Steiff button, ear flag, and chest tag identifiers, these items also included a red wooden bell shaped tag, indicating these collectibles were from FAO Schwarz.

One of the more unusual Steiff and FAO Schwarz collaborations, a Texas Longhorn, also appeared in 1960, the same year as the red fox. He is 25 cm, standing, unjointed, and made from mohair. His detailing is quite distinctive and includes genuine leather horns, a velvet dewlap extending from his neck to his lower chest, googly black and white eyes, and an open, peach felt lined mouth. He has a rather muscular appearance. Like the red fox, this exclusive collectible always generates alot of interest among Steiff and FAO Schwarz enthusiasts alike!

The designer Bill Blass once said, "When in doubt wear red." Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the red fox puts you in a fashionable state of mind.

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

1 comment:

  1. I have a Steiff Hare..on four legs running with the button and label still attached. The label reads Made in Germany-\Steiff 2900/14. I beleive this to be an older model and wish to sell it on ebay but don't know a decent reserve price. She is in good condition with some hair loss and crumpled whiskers. No stains or tears. ANy info regarding this piece would be very helpful. Thanks

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