Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Royal Steiff Auction Find Worthy Of A Crown!

As a collector, it's easy to feel like royalty when you add a Steiff item to your collection that you only dreamed of some day owning!  Such is the case with an enthusiast from Germany who shares their excitement over a recent auction win.  Karim from Frankfurt writes...

My name is Karim, I am 42, and am from Frankfurt. I really love vintage Steiff pets. Today I write to you because I just bought my very first real vintage Steiff item in the autumn auction of here in Germany. My other Steiff pets, a couple of bears and others, are "just" limited editions and replicas.

Last October I flew to London to join
"the auction of the century" at Christies in South Kensington.  There I felt in love with the 1911 Caesar dog in the catalogue which Steiff produced after the death of King Edward.

That's why I was so touched by item #2141 in the October Poestgens auction catalogue. This lot was described just as "Steiff Hund, Vorkrieg, 22 cm" and in very beloved condition.  Clearly the condition was not nearly as pristine as the one from the Greenwood collection.  As you can see on the pictures he still has his collar but not his tag which would have read "E. VII
Caesar". Nevertheless I was impressed by this little fellow's aura when I unpacked the parcel today.

Do you think he really is an original

Thank you so much for your help!

Best, Karim
Karim, what a blue ribbon find and congratulations on your keen eye!  Yes, indeed, your new old friend is a rare and wonderful Steiff Caesar.  The Steiff Caesar you describe at Christie's sale 5035, which was held in October, 2010, had an initial estimate of $800 to $1,275 and sold for $1,088 (including the buyer's premium).  It is easy to understand why you would fall for such a handsome fellow!  Here is the Christie's dog, pictured on the left.

Caesar has looks as distinctive as his personality and the story behind him. He is five ways jointed and made from white and black mohair. He has a sweet black hand embroidered mouth and nose and black shading around his brown and black pupil eyes. His ears are lined in black fabric, and he has distinctive black claws on each of paws.  Originally he came with a thick brown leather collar.  Attached to the collar was a double sided brass medallion, which had the words "STEIFF CAESAR" on the front and "E.Vll. 1910" on the back. This tag is pictured above.  Steiff produced this wire haired terrier from 1910 through 1917 in 22, 25, and 28 cm. In 1916 and 1917, the 25 cm version was produced with movable glass eyes, which allowed him to exhibit numerous funny facial expressions.

So dog-gonnit, just who was this princely pup?  None other than the best friend of King Edward VII. Caesar was born in 1898 and bred by wire haired terrier enthusiast, the Duchess of Newcastle.  Although the king had many dogs, Caesar was by far his favorite.  He was his constant companion and they frequently traveled together.  Caesar was famous, or infamous, for his canine antics (including running away!) as as such, wore a medallion on his collar that read "I am Caesar. I belong to the King", insuring that eventually he would always "find his way home." When the King died in 1910, it is said that Caesar, who was already well known for his doggie drama, exhibited sad and depressed behavior throughout the entire burial preparation period and funeral event.  He appeared to stay in mourning for many months afterward as well by not eating or drinking adequately, and showing uncharacteristic behaviors.  Four years later, Caesar died and was buried on the grounds of Marlborough House.  His headstone reads...
"Our beloved Caesar who was the King's Faithful and Constant Companion until Death and My Greatest Comforter in my Loneliness and Sorrow for Four Years after. Died April 18th 1914"

And here's a bonus!  Check out this video of the funeral of Edward the 7th.  Look closely around the 2:27 mark - you can make out Caesar in the processional.  Thank you to Karim for bringing this remarkable piece of history to our attention!

Steiffgal hopes this little lesson on Caesar and his royal history is worthy of a crown. 
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, museum quality or otherwise? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

1 comment:

  1. glad you can share these stories of these beloved friends finding new homes...always interesting..


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