It's time to come out of winter hibernation and take a look at this outstanding Steiff studio (or life sized) treasure! Check out this question from a reader from Las Vegas who asks about his daughter's "room-mate" of a decade - a huge and friendly Steiff brown bear. Through a series of emails, Roland writes:
I have a Steiff bear that has a ear tag with hand written number on it of 0409 19. This bear has been in my family for over 10 years and now it is time to find him a new home.
I purchased him from a yard sale 10 years ago for my 10 year old daughter. She is now grown and getting ready to get married. I know nothing about this guy other that he was built for a display and was never offered for resale to the general public. All of the books I have, I have looked through them and they do not show him, however a few web sites do as being a VERY highly sought after collectible. So I'm confused at to the value. He is indeed the biggest Steiff bear I have ever seen.
Any help with information would be really helpful.
Many thanks for the larger-than-life question! What Roland has here is Steiff's studio brown bear. He is standing and 190 cm tall. His body is made from a brown knitted fur material. His face is made from short tan colored mohair and is detailed with brown and black pupil eyes, a black leather-like nose, and a few airbrushed highlights. His paw pads are made from a trivera velvet like material, and have airbrushed "paw prints" on them. Both his paws and feet are complemented by lifelike claws; these were most likely made from wood or plastic, depending on the date of production. The large, handwritten ear tag, pictured above, is very typical for Studio items produced in his era. Overall, he was made from 1972 through 1980; in 1972 only he was sold exclusively in the United States.
This item certainly gets a "standing ovation" for its size and design origins. Standing Steiff bears are very distinctive as relatively few have been produced over the years. It is very possible that Roland's bear is based on themes from Steiff's early Zirkus Baer or Circus Bear that was produced from 1935 through 1939. This playful, 32 cm bear was designed to stand on two feet and had snapping limbs and a tail moves head mechanism. He is pictured above. Fast forward a few years, Steiff produced their 28 cm, standing Zooby bear, who - like Roland's bear - has prominent, 3D claws. A 120 cm brown mohair studio Zoo Bear - who looks like the BIG brother of Zooby in many ways, was produced in 1967 only. Rolands' studio bear was produced starting in 1972, and shares many of the characteristics of the studio Zoo Bear, including his color, facial insert design, distinctive claws, and of course, cheerful disposition.
It is interesting to note that from 1972 through 1975, Steiff also produced an 80 cm standing "bear cub" who looks a bit like the kid brother of Roland's 190 cm version. And like Roland's bear, the bear cub was only sold in the United States in 1972. This not so little sweetie is pictured above.
And now the question that makes Steiffgal want to run into a cave and hide... his value. As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and strongly believes something is worth what someone will pay. Clearly, this is a most impressive item and also a bear, which helps his appeal. The real issue with all studio items of these proportions is that finding a buyer can be challenging. Its been Steiffgal's experience and observation that most people love these items - at a distance. Many collectors simply don't have the space in their homes for them. Plus shipping logistics can be very complicated - and sometimes cost many hundreds of dollars - if they require special handling or long distance travel. That being said, Steiffgal's best guesstimate is that he would fall within the $1,000 to $2,000 range today.
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the standing studio bear has keep you on your toes 'till this point.
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