Friday, January 13, 2012

One Heck Of A Giant Classy Steiff Lassie!

Good golly, take a look at this huge and marvelous Collie!  That's just what Steiffgal did when she got this inquiry a reader about her "life sized Lassie."  Check out this note from Kathy, who writes on behalf of a friend who would like to learn more about her family's treasure - that just happens to have a very interesting history as well. She shares:

"Hi Steiffgal,

I found your blog on-line and was so excited to find you!  Your love of Steiff is contagious.

I've attached some photos of a large Steiff
Collie that I would like information on.  The dog belongs to a dear friend of mine and I am helping her out with her research.  

My friend bought the dog at a garage sale about 40 or so years ago.  The owner of the dog worked for Mrs. Gerber, of the Gerber Baby Food Company, as a house cleaner.  She often took her young son along to the Gerber's home when she was cleaning, and Mrs. Gerber grew quite fond of him. Whenever she traveled overseas she would bring the boy a Steiff animal.  When he was 10 she brought him the Collie.  After the boy had grown up he no longer wanted the dog and his mother didn't either so she sold him to my friend.  

I've had a difficult time trying to find information or a value for it.  Thank you for any help you can provide.


Steiffgal is certain that many Steifflife readers are thinking "Lassie come home... to me" upon learning about this dog.   Indeed, what we have here is fabulous and wonderful, and Steiffgal is not surprised to learn that Kathy could not find reference to it online as it is really, really rare.  

This best of show beauty is the studio (i.e., life sized) Collie produced exclusively for the upscale toy retailer FAO Schwarz.  He is in a lying position and made from mohair which has been realistically airbrushed with all shades of tan, brown, beige, and black.  He has a long, fluffy mohair "mane" and an equally robust tail.  His face is detailed with a prominent muzzle; large, pert pupil eyes; an open, felt lined mouth with a red felt tongue; and a black, hand embroidered nose.  He is approximately 135 cm long and was produced in 1966 and sold in the 1966 through 1967 time frame only.

One place this rarity is documented is in the FAO Schwarz catalog archives.  According to their 1967 catalog, this playful pooch is described as follows: "The distinctive looks and noble air of this popular breed are captured by Steiff in this faithful companion.  The long mohair plush coat, long nose, open mouth, and long red felt tongue give him the familiar "collie look."  53 inches long, with authentic marking and deep-throated voice".  

From the collector's perspective, this dashing doggie truly represents the best of both worlds.  

1.  First, he is a Steiff "Studio" treasure, meaning he is life-sized, and/or designed specifically for display purposes. So what exactly does this mean?  In the case of “life-sized” animals, if in nature a tiger is almost 6 feet long, then the Steiff Studio tiger would be almost 6 feet long. In the case of a display product, an item may be produced in exceptionally large proportions in order to make a statement in a window vignette. For example, Steiff has produced an almost 3-foot-tall standing Studio ladybug and a two-and-a-half-foot-tall sitting “Hush Puppies” Basset hound. 

2.  Second, he was made exclusively for FAO Schwarz.  And here's why that matters.  Although Steiff has been merchandising FAO Schwarz with items from its line since the early 1900s, it wasn’t until the early 1950s that Steiff started producing store exclusives for its long-time American retail partner. These treasures included a Texas Longhorn, unusual puppets, unique studio pieces like this Collie, and even a walrus pajama bag, among numerous other items. Despite their “relative newness” to the marketplace, these items are all among the most sought-after Steiff collectibles because of their exceptional attention to detail, unique designs and, of course, the fact that so few were manufactured to begin with!

Now for the question that always makes Steiffgal want to head off to the dog-house - Collie's value.  As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and truly believes something is worth what someone will pay.  Kathy's photos and notes do not give much information on the dog's actual physical condition.  It would be critical to know if the Collie has any rips, tears, weak or balding spots, odors, or other structural issues before giving a firm value range, as those factors can greatly influence its bottom line.  However, IF (and that's a big IF) the dog were in very good to excellent condition, with only little play wear, at least one form of Steiff ID, and no major structural damages, he MAY value in the $900 to $1,500 range. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion about Kathy's Collie has been a best of show experience for you.
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow...can you imagine...I'm really surprised the original owners gave him up. He's wonderful...thanks for sharing this great story..I always learn something from your posts..greatly appreciated..


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