Talk about the mane event! Many collectors particularly favor Steiff's big cats - tigers, lions, and leopards - and for good reason. The company has excelled at producing them since the late 1800's! So take a look at this note from a reader who recently adopted one of these vintage jungle gems into her hug, and wants to know all about him. Colleen writes...
This Steiff Riding Lion was purchased by my neighbor at the factory when they visited Germany probably 40 years ago or longer. She allowed her children to use it as a toy when they were little and she recently sold it to my husband when she was cleaning out her house in an effort to get ready to sell as her husband passed away. She herself purchased it. She said there originally was a tag in the ear or somewhere, but she knows her kids probably removed it. I can't seem to find it.
As you will see from the photos this guy has been "well loved" and enjoyed. He is approx. 20" tall at the top of his head and 25" long from the tip of his nose to the end of his bottom. His fur is not in good shape on his mane, but the rest of him is in fairly good condition for a toy of his age. He has been sewn back together along the top of his back, or possibly that was how he was sewn originally and the matting of his fur shows it now.
He has a very solid handle on his back that the children would hold onto as they rode him and he does have a pull string for his growler. The growler does work and the wheels on his base are in very good condition. He is well attached to the base. He may have no value to anyone other then myself. To be able to enjoy his beauty and know where he has been and where he came from is all the pleasure I need. I just thought you may know more about him that I would enjoy hearing about.
Thank you in advance for any info you have to share and for taking the time to look at my new Steiff friend!
As to be expected, Steiffgal is roaring to help out here! What Colleen has here is called Reit Loewe or Riding Lion. He is standing; his body is made from short blond mohair while his most impressive mane, tail tip, and underbelly is made from from very long, brown tipped mohair. He is mounted on a metal carriage that rolls along on metal disc wheels with rubber tires. He has a grip handle and a cord-activated voice, meaning you would pull the string and he would "growl." It is interesting to note that he has an internal metal frame, adding to his stability. This is the same construction method that Steiff has used for decades in producing many of its "life sized" or studio animals. This particular design was produced in 43 and 50 cm from 1949 through 1966; Colleen's lion is the 50 cm version.
This big boy has been king of the jungle for a very long time. The first Steiff lion on wheels appeared in the catalog as early as 1894 and was made from felt! Colleen's lion design is based on a standing riding/pull lion introduced in 1909. This early model was made from mohair and appeared in 22, 28, 35, 43, and 50 cm through 1919. Then in 1925, Steiff updated the design slightly and produced the piece with a cord activated voice (which is like the metal ringed item just below the grip handle pictured here on the left). This model appeared through 1943. When the factory reopened post war for business in the late 1940's, Riding Lion was one of the first items to be produced... probably due to its handsome good looks and proven sales success! In 2007, Steiff produced a replica of their 1909 version as a worldwide limited edition; it is no surprise it was a huge hit and sold out almost immediately.
Now there's no need for any lion about this collectible's value. As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and believes something is worth what someone will pay. This is a lovely and classic design, with a legacy that touches back more than 100 years. And animals on wheels hold a very special place with certain collectors, who love to display them with other Steiff friends as riders. However, the piece lacks ID and appears to be well loved in ways that are complicated if not impossible for restoration. That all considered, Steiffgal would value this item in the $150 to $300 range.
Steiffgal hopes this discussion about Colleen's riding lion has been a pure joy ride for you.
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