Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Precious Steiff Ted Says "Tag - You're It!"

Are you "red"-dy for a little Steiff bear fun?  Well, in Steiffgal's mind, it's always the PERFECT time to "talk Teddy".   So to get this fabulous conversation going, take a look at this note from Derrick and Tim, from San Francisco, CA.  They want to know a little more about their wonderful recent red-tagged Steiff find.  They write:

"Hi Steiffgal,

Can you give us a little more information on our "new" Steiff Ted?  We got him at a local antique store. The seller was having a hard time letting him go, but we told her that he will be in a good home and not to worry. She told us that she got him in the Portland area 30 years ago.

Unfortunately, our little one doesn’t have any chest tag. The button in ear has an inscription of the word Steiff with the last letter “f” as an underscore. This lovely bear has a red eartag. The red tag indicates that it is a “Steiff Original” with the word “geschutzt” and number “5315.” It also says that this bear was “Made in Germany”.
In terms of his physical characteristics, he is about 6" standing and 4" sitting.  He has brown eyes with black pupils and a brown (copper gold) hand stitched nose and mouth.  He is five ways jointed. We are not sure of his stuffing, but he is not soft.  Finally, he has s a red bow with black and gold stripes. 

Thanks for your help! 

Derrick and Tim"

This charming cub really embodies all the things that make vintage Steiff bears so universally appealing!   His outstanding condition, classic proportions, diminutive size, and precious expression all add to his appeal, value, and interest from an archival perspective. Early white bears with their brown embroidery - such as this one - have always held a special place in the hearts of collectors.  However, what really stands out on this treasure is his remarkable, crisp red ear tag and old time button.  They appear to be in "like new" condition! In this particular case, together they reveal his almost year - and probably season - of production.  Here's how!

Collectors have always relied on Steiff's numbering, ear tag, and button program to help identify and date their Steiff collectibles.  In general, it is a pretty consistent and reliable system, but it occasionally has gaps during transitional periods.  This is the case here with Derrick and Tim's bear.  This bear has a red ear tag and the pre-war Steiff button with the shorter trailing "F" button.  The red ear tag was used approximately from 1925 through 1934/35, while the shorter trailing "F" button was in the line from approximately 1936 through 1950. If you overlay these two time lines, it becomes clear that this Ted was produced at the very end of the "red ear tag" period and at the same time, at the very beginning of the shorter trailing "F" button period.  It would be Steiffgal's best guesstimate that he probably was manufactured late in 1935, just as the factory was winding down its final inventory of red ear tags!

The imprint on this bear's red ear tag also tell an interesting story.  Starting in 1905, Steiff introduced a product numbering system to help add efficiencies to tracking, inventory, distribution, and customer service processes.  These numbers started appearing on the ear tags from 1908 onward.  In the case of this Ted, whose ear tag reads "5315", the "5" indicates his position, which is jointed; the "3" indicates his material, which is "fine mohair plush"; and the "15" indicates his height, which is 15 cm.  This numerical system was updated in 1931 and 1959.  In the mid 1980's it was replaced by the current six digit "EAN" numbering program, most likely because of the shear volume of Steiff items needing identification and inventory management.  

Steiffgal hopes this "earful" about Steiff's colorful ID program from last century doesn't have you seeing red.

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

1 comment:

  1. Great bear and informative article


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