Saturday, July 2, 2011

Steiff's Version of Christmas In July!

It feels like Christmas in July, even though the thermometer's hitting the mid-80's around these parts!  Why?  Because a mysterious, yet jolly bearded man in a cozy red suit has paid a surprise visit to Steiffgal!  Check out this note from a reader from down South about a find of hers that's been hiding in plain sight for years!  She  writes:


I guess you never know what you will find in a drawer but here is Santa who was gently wrapped in tissue for at least 12 years perhaps more. I seem to remember that it belonged to an old girlfriend of mine that passed away over 20 years ago but I am not sure.

Santa stands 14 inches high, is stuffed very hard, and unjointed. He appears to be in mint condition, sort of... you see Santa has lost his head. It
 is barely attached on the back and it seems as if the glue or stitching has come loose. 

In terms of his appearance, his accessories include black leather shoes and a belt.  He has beautiful white fur on his red suit and his beard is off-white in color. This Santa is wearing eyeglasses with wire rims.  His hat is removable. 

For IDs, Santa has a chest tag with a button; the tag reads "Steiff Original 7966/38." 

Can you tell me how old this Santa is?  I would appreciate any information you might be able to give me. 

Thanking you in advance,

Your Faithful Reader"

Santa has always been quite secretive in a number of ways, and this one is no different!  Despite extensive searching, Steiffgal could not find any reference to this Santa's ID number in any reference book or online, which is most interesting from a collector's perspective.  So its time to do a little "Santa sleuthing!"

First, his age (although it's never polite to ask, or even guess this with most people!)  The button used on Santa appears to be the riveted brass button version used from about 1978 onward.  His tag style appeared in the line from about 1970 through 1980.  So if you overlay these two markers, it becomes clear that this Santa was produced in the 1978 through 1980 timeframe.  

Now for his model.  Steiff has made Santas sort of like this design officially in the line twice, once in 1953 through 1967 in 13, 18, 31, and 150 cm and then again in 1984 though 1988 in 19 and 28 cm.  (For extensive information about the history of Steiff Santas, please click here!) However, neither of the models produced during the 1950's and 1960's, and then again in the mid to late 1980's had black gloves, belts, or boots.  Steiff standard line Santas were also jointed, this mystery doll is not.  In addition, this Santa is 35 or 36 cm.  Clearly from the timeline, size, and design perspectives, this Santa is an unusual find indeed! 

If Steiffgal were to unwrap this Christmas gift mystery, it would be her best guess - and just that, not seeing the item firsthand and checking for other not so obvious details -  that this Santa was most likely created as a sample or special order for a customer.  His larger size suggests that he might have been made as part of a seasonal window display! Given that he is a sample or special order, and once his head is repaired by a professional, he may value in the $200 to 400 range, for the right buyer.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this vintage Santa has put you in a holiday frame of mind - for the Fourth of July

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

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