Sunday, December 11, 2011

Care To Have A Firsthand Look At An Original Steiff Rod Bear?

Just a warning that what you're about to see is really going to test your (Steiff) mettle - I mean metal!   Have you ever laid eyes on a century-plus Steiff rod bear?  These terrific Teds were only made between 1904 and 1905 and were jointed by three metal rods:  one horizontal one for the legs, one horizontal one for the arms, and one vertical one for the head.  Rod bears are incredibly rare and are considered the "holy grail" by many collectors around the world.   Steiffgal recently had the pleasure of meeting with all-star Steiff collector Holly Greenwell, who just happens to have one of these magnificent rod bears in her collection - and was gracious enough to share her treasure with the Steifflife readers!  Let's get "up close and personal" with her "Roddy" and take a once in a lifetime look at many of his details that truly put him in a class of his own!

Well hello, handsome!  Here we have Roddy in all of his glory.  He is quite large, about 35 cm sitting and 50 cm standing! His "official" Steiff identification is 35PB.  He is in absolutely beautiful condition.   Holly added his collar, but everything else about him is period, including his chest tag.  

Face it, you are captured by his charms!  Roddy has large black wooden shoe button eyes and a gutta-percha nose.

He's also totally buttoned up - check out his elephant button, the first ever used by the company!  Also check out his mohair in this close up shot.  It is very glossy, soft, and shiny.  He has full mohair coverage.  

Tag, you're it.  Here you can see Roddy's original period chest tag.  Steiff used various paper tags to identify their items from 1897 through 1904; they were attached via stitching or strings.  Because the paper is very frail, Roddy's is kept in a plastic sleeve to protect it. 

The nose knows, for sure.  Here is a close up of Roddy's gutta-percha nose.  Each of these was created by hand, one at a time.  Its asymmetry, nicks, and fingerprints make each one truly one of a kind. 

Grin and bear it.  It is interesting to note that Roddy's simple mouth is hand embroidered with tan floss...

...while the five claws on each of his hands and feet are embroidered in black.  

Mighty big shoes to fill.... Roddy has very large, narrow feet, typical of turn of last century Steiff bears.  Proportionally, the total height of the bear standing should be five times the length of the feet, toe to heel. 

Always ready to lend a hand.  Roddy has distinctive spoon shaped wrists and paw pads. His felt paw pads are in remarkable condition given how susceptible these areas are to pesky moths and other pests. 

Don't get out of joint about this, but if you look really closely you can see the metal rod joining - and jointing - Roddy's leg to his body. 

Attention!  Here you can see Roddy's early and important proportions in profile:  his large and elegant head, chunky body, long arms and legs, and distinctly thin and curved ankles and wrists. 

Finally, let's get back to basics. Roddy clearly can't take a bad picture, regardless of the angle. Here you can clearly see Roddy's curvy back,  joint placement, and low and parallel ear placement - all typical features of the earliest Steiff bears.  

Steiffgal hopes this head to toe study of one of Steiff's finest creations has forever "jointed" you at the hip with this wonderful brand!

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


  1. I have a few blank button Steiff teds but Roddy is absolutely exceptional! Thank you very much for posting this - elephant button rod bears are indeed the Holy Grail! He is just gorgeous!

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