Saturday, September 1, 2012

Discovering The History Behind A Remarkable Steiff Find

We've all heard the expression, "Finders, keepers... losers, weepers!" And in this particular case, the "find" is something with a wonderful and heartwarming story behind it. Take a look at this note from a reader who asks about a serendipitous baby gift he received almost 60 years ago.  Michael from New York writes...

"Hello Steiffgal,

I have had the attached bear since I was a little boy. My sister found him on the street in NYC in the mid 1950's and took him home to give to me - her new baby brother!

He stands about 6 1/2 inches from tip of ear to foot. My sister tells me that he had a tag on him when found that said "Made in Germany." He has 5 joints, and if I recall correctly, he used to squeak when pressed.

I am not concerned on his worth, because to me he is priceless and has been my companion for 58 years. I just want to know, after all these years, if he is a Steiff, and if so his year.
Thank You,

Wow... talk about a wonderful discovery and perfect timing!  What Michael has here is not only a Steiff bear, but a very dear example of the company's rare and quite desirable "Jackie" Bear.  Jackie is light blond mohair, five ways jointed, and has a distinctly round and chubby appearance, especially in his belly, hips, and thighs.   His paw pads are made from tan colored felt.  He is detailed with brown and black pupil eyes and a brown hand embroidered nose, mouth, and claws.  Jackie was produced in 17, 25, 35, and 75 cm from 1953 through 1955 only (which perfectly aligns with when Michael's sister found him on the street!)  Jackie was produced in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Teddy bear - specifically the 50th anniversary of the registration of 55PB (an early and famous Steiff bear design) at the Heidenheim (Germany) district court in 1903. 

Steiff's Jackie bears have several distinctive characteristics which make them "O" so wonderful.  Some of these are still evident on Michael's bear; others have been lost to time and love.  These include:   

  • a light pink stitch across the nose (you can see where this might have been if you look closely at his nose)
  • an airbrushed belly button (you can see the slight remains of this right in the middle of his stomach)
  • when new, lots of facial airbrushing (lost to love and time)
  • a raised script ear button (lost to love and time)
  • a white fabric "US Zone" tag sewn in their arm seam (according to family history, was present when found on the street)
  • large hands that are proportionally large for her chubby arms and don't have the break at the wrist (yes!)
  • short, plump legs and belly (yes!)
  • a small booklet about Jackie and Steiff (lost to love and time) 
Because of their brief time in the Steiff line, and their distinctive pattern, Jackie bears are among the most desirable post-WW2 Steiff items for most collectors.  The 2010 Steiff Auction at Christie's in London featured several of these beauties; the illustration above shows a "pristine" 17 cm example.  It is not unusual for complete examples of this bear with all IDs and their original booklets to sell in the high four figures. 
And what does Jackie's owner make of all of this news?  According to Michael...
"Thanks so much for your informative answer!  I always knew he was special! :) I have loved this guy since little and still do (Even though I am a retired cop! Weird huh!)  I will leave him to my daughter after I am gone as she knows how much he means to me."

Steiffgal hopes the story behind Michael's Jackie adds a little luck to your day, too!

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

The teddy bear search engine