Monday, August 30, 2010

A Giant Steiff Fish Tale

Steiffgal just loves getting questions about Steiff family treasures, and that's no fish tale! Check out this letter from Arianne from Pacific Palisades, CA, who is fishing for answers about her long time and beloved "aquatic acquaintance." She writes:


My brothers and I have multiple Steiffs which date from the late 60's and possibly early 70's.  I own a fish which is quite large with wheels which I used to ride around on when I was little. I have had this fish my whole life and I love it so much. I can't seem to find any like it anywhere.

The eyes are missing but it is in quite good shape. I have considered repairing it but am afraid of it not being done by an expert. I am afraid to repair it as I am concerned to tamper with the original piece but I would love to have the eyes and make sure the few small tears don't get larger. 

Have you ever heard of large Steiff on wheels? Do you know where I could have it repaired?

Thanks so much!


Steiffgal's got this one down hook, line, and sinker.  What Arianne has here is what Steiff calls Reit Fisch Flossy, or Riding Fish Flossy.  This finned friend is 55 cm and made from mohair.  When she was new, she had marvelous, brightly colored hand-airbrushing and stenciling all over her body, very large puffy peach colored felt lips, and big brown and black pupil eyes.  She has an arched metal grip handle and foot rests for riding comfort. Her wheels are blue and have rubber tires.  Internally, she has an metal frame for stability (like a skeleton).  A rider steers her by adjusting her tail wheel.  Reit Fisch Flossy was made from 1965 from 1974.  To the left is a picture of what she looked like when new; this illustration is from Gunther Pfeiffer's 1947 - 2003 Steiff Sortiment book. 

Arianne's Flossy is the "mobile version" of Steiff's well known and beloved "Flossy" fish design.  Although Steiff featured a fish as a hanging pram toy in 1916, it wasn't until almost 50 years later than fish as a species became a regular feature in the Steiff product line.  Flossy was the initial fish design launched post war in 1960.  She was made from mohair and colored either in the blues, reds, or yellows in 13, 28, and 66 cm. All Flossies were joyously hand airbrushed, perhaps to give the impression of swirling color under water.   They also all had peach colored felt lips and larger than life brown and black pupil eyes. Depending on their size, each had mohair or felt fins and tail fins.  A 28 cm Flossy is pictured above on the left. Flossy remained in the Steiff catalog through 1981.  

As for repairing the Riding Fish, Steiffgal is "angling" towards the affirmative in this case.  Although repair work can be expensive (as it is often literally done thread by thread by hand...) she believes if you love the item, and hope to keep it for many years or even give it to a child in the next generation, it is entirely worth the restoration investment.  It is clear that this is the case here with Arianne's Flossy.  Steiffgal has had nothing but good results from Martha Anderson and her work which can be found at  But don't just believe Steiffgal; Martha was recently profiled in Teddy Bear and Friends, a national publication dedicated to the art and craft of Teddy bear collecting.

Steiffgal hopes this column has tackled all of your Steiff riding fish questions!

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

1 comment:

  1. Dear Steiff-fancier,
    since I have a "Flossy" from 1969 of 66 cm, I would like to know where I can sell it for best price and what it is worth.
    Thank you very much for your help.
    Frank Jankowski, Berlin, Germany


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