Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mousing Around With Steiff's Original 1930's-era Mickey Mouse Doll

If Steiff were to have an "honorary" ambassador - besides the Teddy bear of course - many vintage fans might just vote for Mickey Mouse After all...

Who's the leader of the club,
That's made for you and me,
M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E,
Hey! there, Hi! there, Ho! there,
You're as welcome as can be,
M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!

So of course Steiffgal couldn't have been more honored to receive this delightfully Disney-esque inquiry from a reader from Canada.  Doug writes:

"Hi there,

We have a Mickey Mouse that we have come across and found the picture of him on your blog. We were wondering if you could help us in regards to information about this Mickey. I have attached pictures for you to view.


Don't mean to play cat and mouse with you Doug, but this is a mighty nice find!  Although it is impossible in most cases to identify an item with 100% certainty from photographs, he does look very much like Steiff's version of Mickey from the 1930's.  Steiff's Mickey Mouse is primarily made from black and white velvet. His eyes are glued on, and he has a few black whiskers.  He wears yellow gloves and velvet pants detailed with white buttons; his trousers have appeared in a variety of colors including red and green.  Depending on his size, he has red, green, or orange shoes.   The sole of the shoes are imprinted with copyright information, as you can see ever so faintly on the picture on the left.  Steiff made Mickey Mouse from 1931 through 1936 in 11, 16, 23, 30, 36, and 48 cm. A tail moves head and a 24 cm puppet version were also produced in the same time frame. Doug's Mickey is the 23 cm version, given the photo provided.

The 1930’s marked the beginning of a long and still enduring relationship between Steiff and The Walt Disney Company.  According to the Cieslik's wonderful reference book "Button in Ear The History of the Teddy Bear and His Friends", Paul Steiff, one of Margarete's nephews, traveled to Stuttgart in order to see a Mickey Mouse movie.  On June 26, 1930 he wrote:

"We sat in the very last row and appeared to be the only ones who laughed over the film. Either no one in Germany is yet able to understand a cartoon film, or life at present is so sad that no one has the heart to laugh, or are these films unsuitable for the majority of the people?"

Nonetheless, he described Mickey as "...lively, three dimensional, comical, understanding, funny, droll, and happy" and insisted that Steiff obtain permission to manufacture and market a version of the character.  By 1931, 30,000 Steiff Mickey Mouse toys were made - truly validating Paul's product development and marketing insights!  In 1932, Steiff started working on a version of Minnie Mouse, but this proved more challenging from a design and partnership agreement. Over the six year production time frame, about 53,000 Mickey Mouse and 13,000 Minnie Mouse dolls were manufactured and distributed. These wonderful velvet dolls today are among the most precious and sought after finds for both Steiff and Disneyana collectors!

Ok, now the question that makes Steiffgal want to scamper into a mouse hole... his value.  This Mickey Mouse looks to be in ok condition.  He seems to have lost his Steiff ID, tail, and whiskers over time. It's good to see that he retains his white buttons, which are a very nice detail.  As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it.  That being said, Steiffgal roughly estimates that given his condition as presented here (and assuming solid structural integrity, no smells, rot spots, other badness, etc.) he is valued in the $250-500 range today.  A similar item in slightly better condition just sold on eBay for a little over $500 but it had its button which is a big deal to collectors.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Mickey Mouse has been as fun as a day in a theme park for you!

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

1 comment:

  1. hey if you wanted some more pics i have this same doll in slightly better condition email me at xxadamfisherxx@gmail.com


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