Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rolling Into Spring With This Marvelous Vintage Steiff Rabbit On Wheels

Is anyone else out there about ready to roll into spring and all the delights that come with it?  Steiffgal certainly is, especially after this week's surprise early March snow and ice storm around these parts!  Check out this inquiry from a reader that should help us all of us put a hop-skip-and-a-jump into our seasonal steps!  Brenda writes...
"Dear Steiffgal,
Perhaps you can help me learn a bit about this toy.  Have you ever seen one before?  Is it rare?  What may it be worth?  When was it made?  
 My husband's father got it as a child, in about 1920.  
The rabbit is about 12 inches long and 4 inches high and is mounted on four wooden wheels.  It's body appears to be made out of light brown felt.  It has an ear button on the underside of its long floppy ears.
Thanks for any help you can give me.  
Best, Brenda"
Wow, that's one blue ribbon bunny Brenda's got there! This fantastic treasure is an early Steiff felt rabbit on wooden wheels.  The rabbit is standing on all fours and unjointed. Her face was originally detailed with simple black button eyes, a hand embroidered nose and mouth, and clear monofilament whiskers. Her head and body were highlighted a bit of light painting. When she left the factory, she had a red silk bow (the one on her now is probably not original) and a bell around her neck. Her pull cord was most likely a long stretch of red and white twine. This particular pattern was made in light brown in 12, 14, 17, and 22 cm from 1912 through 1936 and grey in 12, 14, and 22 cm from 1916 through 1918.  
This beloved and classic pattern was also available without wheels as early as 1892, the first year of the Steiff catalog!

Continuing on this joy ride, this toy is on what Steiff calls "eccentric wheels."  This means that when the rabbit rolls along, it shimmies back and forth, having the appearance  of a somewhat "natural" gate or movement.  This is accomplished by attaching the wheels slightly off center to the supporting axle. You can see that here on the picture on the left.  Although this early innovation was discovered by accident at the turn of last century, it has become a delightful Steiff  detail that is still used on some items today. 

Now to the question that sends Steiffgal down the rabbit hole... her value.  As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and believes that something is worth what someone will pay.  This is a classic and delightful item. Early rabbits are right up there with collectors as favorite finds and treasures.  You don't see too many of these around today as they are made of felt, which seems to be a moth magnet.  Moths really can destroy  felt collectibles in what seems like a heartbeat, so give your felt treasures extra special care and protection from the elements.  Steiffgal has not actually ever seen one of these rolling rabbits  in person, which is sort of unusual - and speaks to its rarity.  That all being said, given she is in very good condition (i.e., clean, with minimal if any holes, odors, or structural issues) today vintage Steiff rabbits on wheels from this period may  value in the $750 to 1200+ range if grey in color and $600 to 1000+ range if light brown in color.  

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on Brenda's rabbit  has put you in the mood for the joyful upcoming Easter season.
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.   


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  2. How can I get my Steiff bear valued? I have come across an antique elephant on wheels it is very old.

    I am thinking about becoming a collector.

    Can you please point me in the right direction?


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