My father-in-law has a Steiff bear that he purchased in an estate auction 30+ years ago. He actually bought a trunk and this bear was tucked inside of it, so he was a free "bonus" to the sale.
Could you look at the pictures and tell me what you think? The bear is in very good condition - no rips or tears. He is 11" sitting and 16" standing. The stitching on his nose is light brown in color, and he has a tiny black button in his ear. His ear tag is white and has the numbers 5328 on it.
He won first place at a teddy bear party in Kennebunkport, ME years ago. It was at this event that the grandson of Mr. Steiff signed his foot.
Tamie, how you describe this bear coming into your family's life is the ultimate fantasy for most Steiff collectors! What we have here is a simply outstanding example of an early 20th century Steiff bear. He is made from mohair, five ways jointed, and has black wooden shoe button eyes. The fact that his facial and paw/claw stitching is brown (which has faded a bit over time) means that this bear is actually white. Early blond Steiff bears had black facial and paw/claw stitching. His paw pads are felt and seem to be in remarkable condition for his age. This bear has the classic Steiff proportions and look of an early 1900's bear. This particular cub pattern was produced in blond and white from 1905 through 1933 in 10, 15, 18, 22, 25, 30, 32, 35, 40, 46, 50, 60, 70, and 115 cm.
It's never nice to ask someone their age, but this particular bear wears it right on his - well - ear! Because Tamie's bear has such distinctive ID, it is possible to figure out within a FEW MONTHS when he left the factory in Giengen, Germany. His button, which is blank, 6 mm in diameter, and made from nickel plated iron, was only used between 1905 and 1906. It also appears that his white ear tag is the earliest version of this form of ID, and was used between 1905 and 1908. The tag has the article number of the bear (5328 meaning jointed, mohair, and 28 cm sitting) and the German word "geschutzt" which means "patented." If you dovetail the dating of his blank button and his white tag, it becomes clear that he was made in the 1905 to 1906 time frame. We should all look so good at around 105+ years old!
Now for the "fill in the blank" question - his value. As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and believes something is worth what someone will pay. In this particular case, time does equal money when it comes to his fair market value! Based on relatively recent sales of other turn of last century white Steiff bears, (and without seeing the bear firsthand...) Steiffgal best estimates that this bear would bring $5,500 to $7,500 at retail today.
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Tamie's blank buttoned beauty has been a pleasant earful for you.
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