Friday, December 30, 2011

Vintage (Steiff) Teddy Bear Hugs To You!

It certainly bears repeating... there's nothing quite as wonderful, heartwarming, and delightful as Steiff's early, turn of last century Teddies.  For most collectors, just looking at one brings a big smile and a happy feeling that can last all day.  And Steiffgal promises it is no different in this case as well.  Take a look at this note from a reader who inquires about a precious Steiff family heirloom bear.  Matt from California writes...


I would like to get some information on a family bear and what it may be worth. 

The bear measures 12" tall, top of head to bottom of feet. The arms, legs and head still swivel. In terms of details, the stitching on the nose and paws is brown. He has four stitches on each paw. His button measures around 5mm or 6mm as far as I can tell.  His paw pads are in good condition, no staining, rips, or anything.

There is a little fur missing from the top of the nose.  There looks like there is a hole or tear in a seam above the right foot at the ankle, measuring about 5mm x 2mm - possibly stitched back together at some point, I can't see it very well without digging at it, and I don't want to do that.  The left upper arm is a little deformed - it looks like it laid on its side for a long time and the arm is a little twisted below the shoulder. The stuffing is compacted in the limbs,  causing voids in the upper arms and the upper thigh. Other than that, everything else seems to be in good condition. 

This bear was given to me by my great aunt and she wrote a note stating it's a 1907 Steiff Teddy Bear.  What do you think?

Thanks for your help, 

Wow, this is one terrific Ted!  What Matt has here is an excellent example of a turn of last century Steiff Teddybaer or Teddy Bear.  This bear is made from mohair, is five ways jointed, and is detailed with traditional early 20th century details, including black shoe button eyes and a prominent muzzle.  He has classic early Steiff proportions, including a torso which is twice as long as his head; slender arms that descend to his mid-thigh area; and a 1:5 foot length to height ratio.  Even though he has darkened a bit over time, it is clear that he was originally white, as Steiff used brown embroidery floss on white bears, and black embroidery floss on blond and brown bears.  This particular model was produced in blond, white, and brown mohair in 10, 15, 18, 22, 25, 30, 32, 35, 40, 46, 50, 60, 70, and 115 cm overall from 1905 through 1933.   

It's very important to respect your elders, especially when it comes to Steiff!  So, just how old is this beautiful bruin?  This needs to be deduced from four main factors.  

First, Matt's bear measures 12 inches (30 cm) standing and 8 inches (20 cm) sitting.  According to records, which are not always 100% to the date accurate, this size was manufactured from around 1909 through 1933.  

Second, let's take a close look at his button, pictured above. It is Steiffgal's best extrapolation that it measures closer to 4mm; this size button was used on items from approximately 1908 though 1927.  


Third, take a look at his "looks!" He is remarkably similar in appearance, size, and proportion to Steiffgal's "George", a early blank buttoned Steiff bear from 1905. "George" is pictured just above.

Fourth, his "provenance." Matt's great aunt states this treasure is from 1907 - according to the note she left for him with the bear.  This documentation is pictured above.

If you dovetail all of these clues together, it is Steiffgal's best "guesstimate" that Matt's bear was manufactured between 1908 and 1909.  

If time is money, then what is the value of Matt's vintage mohair masterpiece?  As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and sincerely believes something is worth what someone will pay.  He does have some wear on his nose, a small seam rip on his leg, and stuffing separation and degradation. On the other side of the coin, he is a precious and classic century-plus white mohair Steiff bear and Steiffgal can't imagine any vintage enthusiast not wanting him for their collection - despite his restorable flaws!  That all being said, he probably values in the $1,800 to $2,250 range today.

 Steiffgal hopes this discussion concerning this adorable antique Steiff bear feels as good as a giant Teddy hug! 

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


  1. Wonderful the inside information on the little nuances that make Steiff so special...Happy New Year SG...

  2. Wonderful blog post - I couldn't find a single piece of incorrect information. You certainly know your stuff when it comes to steiff bears. The point about the brown button to check for authenticity is always a good one, as few people check this in my experience.


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