Thursday, November 4, 2010

Steiff's "Brothers In Arms" From The Turn of Last Century

Steiffgal could bear to hide her delight when a fellow Steiff enthusiast contacted her about these marvelous Steiff "Brothers In Arms!" Christopher, from Indiana, recently added these two terrific turn of last century Teds to his collection - and who could blame him for falling for their handsome good looks AND vintage charm!  Although these Teds aren't twins per say, it is clear that they will be "BFFs" from now on!  Let's take a look at each of these bears and what makes them so special.

Going by age (and not beauty, which would be impossible to determine in this case!), here we have big brother Toby, who is circa 1906.  He is 13'' standing, five ways jointed, excelsior stuffed, and made from blond mohair.  Typical for his age and time of production, he has black shoe button eyes, a hand embroidered black nose and mouth, and four claws on each of his felt pads.  His squeaker is present but inoperative.  He has the sweetest look about him, don't you think?  Christopher adopted him from an antique doll dealer who found Toby at an auction in New England.  Other than than, his history is a mystery.  

Let's not paws a moment and check out Toby's little brother! This happy handful is "Ted", who is 12" standing, five ways jointed, made from gold mohair, and is stuffed with excelsior.  Like Toby, he has black shoe button eyes, a hand embroidered black nose and mouth, and four claws on each of his felt pads.  He's the pensive one of the duo. Ted's exact dating is a bit fuzzy.  His original owner - a 98 year old woman named "Ted" who had an extensive collection of antique toys - says he is from 1907.  However, according the Steiff Sortiment Book, Steiff did not start producing 12" (i.e., 30 cm) Teddy bears in this model until 1909.  HOWEVER, they did manufacture 32 cm (about 12.5") bears in this model from 1905 onward.  Older Steiff items, especially ones stuffed with excelsior (which breaks down over time) tend to shrink a bit.  So it is completely within reason that he could have been "born" in 1907 and is just showing the effects of his 100+ years.  

Both Toby and Ted exhibit physical features and proportions that are very consistent with those bears produced by Steiff at the turn of last century.  Their torsos are twice as long as their heads.  They have long limbs and when standing, their hands go all the way to their knees.  Their feet are long and narrow and are in roughly 1:5 ratio to their height. Although not pictured here, it is safe to assume that both have pronounced back humps.

1907, which is around the time of both Toby and Ted's production, was a banner year at the Steiff company.  That year alone, 975,000 bears were produced by Steiff and their cottage workers!  It is interesting to note that about 90% of those bears were exported to America, as the Teddy bear had not yet found a place in the heart of local Germans!  As a matter of fact, the son of the owner of the largest toy store in Berlin recounts of the time...

"One day our store window was crowded with young brown bear cubs.  This proved to be yes another disaster.  The Berliners launched, tapped their foreheads, and muttered "madness, madness". Not one person bought a single lovable cub and our competitors laughed behind our backs."

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on turn of last century Steiff cubs encourages you to add a few to your hug too!

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

2 comments:

  1. Steiff Gal, this was very interesting! I love Toby and Ted and enjoyed learning a little more Steiff history. I wish I could find an early Steiff bear; they are my very favorites. Their style and sweet faces are one reason I started making my own teddy bears!

    ~Debora, New Avenue Crew

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  2. Ooh they are so cute, I wish they were mine!

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