Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wooden You Love To Learn More About This Steiff Roving Rooster?

Steiffgal couldn't help but shake a tail feather when she received this inquiry about a Steiff item which today is as rare as hen's teeth.  Take a look at this note from a reader who asks about an unusual Steiff wooden pull toy his family found on an antiquing adventure.  Rick from Maine writes: 


Very nice site! I have a few old wooden pull toys. One is a Steiff rooster, the pictures are attached to this inquiry.  My wife was wondering about its age and value... we would be grateful for any information on it.  

Thank you very much for any help.


Steiff's pre-war wooden rooster on wheels
Wooden you just love to welcome this fantastic find into your Steiff hug? What we have here is Steiff's gorgeous Rooster pull toy.  He is 20 cm high, made from wood, and on green rollers.  Although he is basically flat, his dimensional wings and glorious, realistic hand painting truly bring him to life.  His pull string is red and white twine; it may be original as photographs of similiar models from the Steiff archives appear to also have red and white pull strings as well.  Steiff reference books describe this item as "lifelike and artistical, painted in bright colors".  Overall, the rooster pull toy was in the Steiff line from 1919 through 1941.  His trailing f button somewhat narrows his production time to between 1919 and 1936.

Note the off-center "eccentric wheels"
From a collector's perspective, there are two very interesting details about this item which really makes it rule the roost.  The first is that it rides on eccentric wooden wheels. This means that the rooster bobs to - and - fro when it is pulled along... much like the real bird in action!  This is accomplished by mounting the wheels to the metal framed carriage just a little off center.  The second feature is the placement of the button.  Although CLEARLY roosters don't have obvious "external" ears, Steiff playfully inserted the "knopf-im-ohr" near where his ears would be, if he had any.

Not bad for a nonagenarian!
Although most people associate soft toys and collectibles with the Steiff name, the company also has a long tradition of manufacturing wooden playthings as well.  The first wooden items appeared around 1910 and were mostly accessories for the Teddy bears, animals, and dolls in the line.  Then in the late 19-teens and early 1920's, Steiff began producing large numbers of wooden items - in part because mohair and other softer materials were in short supply post World War l.  These treasures included block sets; wooden characters on rocking bases and wooden wheels; building sets; trains; pull wagons; and animal-themed wagons - including designs based on popular characters of the time including Bully the Bulldog and Pip the Pug. Birds on wheels, like the rooster noted above, were exceptionally popular; ducks, finches, tits, sparrows, geese, hens, chicks, swallows, and cuckoos were produced over the 1919 through 1941 time frame.  The catalog describes these pre-war models as "Top quality wood, rounded edges and smooth surface, detailed painting." Post war, wooden toys became much less prominent in the line; animal pull toys were manufactured through the 1970's but their designs were far less detailed and interesting than their pre-war cousins. 

Without ruffling your feathers, in terms of value, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and believes something is worth what someone will pay for it.  Rooster always seem to have an appeal to collectors - as well as interior decorators - due to the "county" or "homey" feeling they lend to any room. Given that this beautiful barnyard buddy is in very good condition, has ID, and what appears to be his original pull string, he may value in the $450 to $600 range.  A Steiff wooden sparrow on wheels from the same time frame sold recently at Christie's Auction House in London for $514.

Steiffgal hopes this roving rooster review has been the wheel deal for you.   

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

1 comment:

  1. We have a full sized childs steiff wooden pull type wagon with wooden wheels. We can't find anything about it. Measurements are 17 1/2" tall and 25 1/2" long and the pull handle is over 36" long. The word steiff is printed on the front and the back of the wagon. Can you help us with any information about this wagon including age and price.
    Greg Thomsen


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