Saturday, August 18, 2012

It's Time For A Little Shut-Eye Over This Sleepy Steiff Character Doll

Wake up! It's time to learn a little something about a dreamy - literally - Steiff treasure!  Take a look at this very short note from a reader who is curious about a toy they purchased for their son several decades ago.  Shawn simply writes,


Hi there, do you know anything about this doll? How old it it?  What is its value?


Usually it's lights out on questions with so little information... but in this particular case, this item is so distinct that it truly could only be one thing.  What we have here is Steiff's Sandmännchen or Sandman doll.  He is 25 cm and standing.  His head is made from PVC; his long yellow hair is made from thick yarn.  He has a strand of this yellow yarn under his chin to resemble a beard.  He is dressed in black shoes, denim pants, a red and white striped tee-shirt, a blue felt hat, and a brown velvet corduroy jacket.  His jacket is detailed with a row of decorative Steiff buttons up the front. His Steiff button and yellow tag are inserted in his jacket as his ears are solid and integral to his head. Sandman was made from 1979 through 1981 only.  He was also made as a 30 cm hand puppet during the same time frame.

So who exactly is this sleepy sprite?  Sandman, of European origins, is a mythical character who is best known for bringing good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of children while they sleep at night.  The well known author Hans Christian Andersen wrote several tales about him.  However, there are also tales of sinister Sandman-like characters, that bring bad dreams and even steal children's eyeballs.  Many Americans got to see a version of "Sandman" in action as part of a very popular TV commercial launched during the 2012 NFL Superbowl; the clip of this advertisement can be seen above. 

E. German (L) and W. German (R) versions of "The Sandman"
Steiffgal is certain that this particular Steiff Sandman is the GOOD Sandman, and is based on a German television program called Das Sandmännchen (The Sandman), which ran in West Germany from 1959 through 1991.  The main character of this program is pictured here in the striped shirt and blue cap; you can see his similarities to the Steiff version.  Das Sandmännchen debuted on December 1, 1959. It is interesting to note that East German television had their own program featuring this same character; it was titled Unser Sandmännchen (Our Sandman).  This program debuted on December 22, 1959. The East's version of Sandman looked a bit more like Santa Claus in green with his long beard and white hair.  He is pictured above on the left.  The production of the Western version of Sandmännchen stopped in 1991, following the unification of Germany. However, episodes from the former East German show are still amazingly popular and run on German television today; the character and show even have their own website, which can be found here:

Now the question that makes Steiffgal want to hit the hay - his value.  As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and feels that something is worth what someone will pay.  This particular doll is not well known outside of Germany and is still relatively new in terms of age.  It is also made from plastics and synthetic materials, which are not terribly interesting to Steiff "purists."  However, this collectible is seldom seen, in excellent condition with all of its IDs, is absolutely adorable, and has ties to popular culture.  As a result, he probably values in the $125 to $200 range.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's Sandmännchen gives you pleasant dreams tonight.

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1 comment:

  1. I grew up with the "Sandmännchen", this is taking me back to my childhood ^^


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