Thursday, December 2, 2010

The "Professor" of All Steiff Puppets

Whhoooo doesn't like to stumble upon a surprise treasure, especially when it was made by Steiff!  Check out this note from a reader who asks about a Steiff puppet found unexpectedly in a high-up hiding place.  Pippa writes:

"Hi there!

I have a vintage Steiff owl hand Puppet that we found in my in-laws attic.  I found your blog and thought I would drop you a quick line to find out more about it. 

The puppet has been kept safe and sound since it was purchased. However,  we are not 100% sure of the year it was purchased or for that matter its manufacture. It does, however, still have its stock tag on and it is perfectly intact. The puppet itself is made of 51% wool and 49% cotton as per the tag.  

Thank you in advance for any information on it, and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.



Well, let's all give Pippa a big "hand" for her delightful surprise, a vintage Steiff hand puppet What she has discovered is Steiff's wonderful Wittie owl puppet.  Wittie is 17 cm and made from mohair.  He has two "wings" that can be moved about, a soft pocket-style body, and a solid, excelsior filled head.  His face is finished with a realistic beak, stunning green and black pupil eyes, and little black tufts on the top of his head.  (In nature, these tufts are neither ears or horns; scientists suspect they are aids in a complex series of non-vocal communications amongst the species.)  Overall, this puppet has amazing and beautiful detailing, including colorful, whole body airbrushing. Puppet Wittie was in the Steiff line from 1954 through 1978.

Pippa's puppet is a line extension from a beloved Steiff design introduced in the 1950's.  Shortly after the Steiff factory reopened for business in the late 1940's, the Steiff designers really "went to town" in the shear number of innovative designs they brought to the new global marketplace.  Perhaps the "smartest" was the brainy bird called Uhu Wittie, or Wittie Owl. Wittie as a toy was produced from 1954 through 1977 in four sizes: 10, 14, 22, and 35 cm; a family of Steiff owls are pictured above in a photo taken by collector Michael Lucas. Wittie's body and wings are mohair and his feathers are designed from carefully cut and detailed felt. Like the puppet mentioned above, the original Wittie has marvelous airbrushed detailing on his body, green pupil eyes, and charming tufts of black hair on his forehead. One of the things that is quite remarkable about Wittie as a toy, is that in any size, he has proportionally enormous wired feet.

In terms of value, well, this puppet can help feather your nest, at least a little. As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and feels something is worth what someone else will pay for it.  Puppet Wittie appears to be in very good condition and retains some Steiff ID, which is important.  Steiffgal guestimates, based on other recent sales of like items, that he may value in the $75 to $125 range.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's wise old bird has raised your Steiff IQ by a few points!

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


  1. My parents gave me a steiff fox hand puppet for my birthday years ago when I was small. The button is in the ear but the tag is missing. I would never rid of it because my parents who have now passed gave me this special gift, but I was wondering if it is still worth something if the paper tag was missing? Thank you in advance

  2. I have a Steiff fox hand puppet with the tag still on it, a black poodle hand puppet and a kitty with the steiff button in the ear... but this kitty has spots on it's back (it's not a tiger) Might you know how much they are worth? They are quite old and in excellent condition.

    Thank you.

  3. I found what I believe may be a Wittie Owl puppet; the black "tufts," however, the eyes appear more bright yellow than green, AND the wings... inside everything appears original stitching, however the lower part of the wings has a tangerine felt sewn into the seam, rather than all mohair as I've seen on this site. Also, what appears to be the original fabric tag is sewn into the Owl's left side about an inch below the wing, very worn, cannot read it. Their is no 'button' on it.

    Have you any idea about whether these wings are original and the age of this puppet?

    Thank you!!


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