Sunday, February 3, 2013

Steiff's Very Own Baby Boomer Bears

Anyone out there need a Teddy hug? Chances are, if you are reading this blog, your answer is a resounding YES! It goes without saying that Steiffgal loves Steiff's remarkable bears. But did you know that some of her favorite models are not all that terribly old - from the 1950’s and early 1960’s? The Baby Boomer Bears!  During these decades, Steiff experienced a really breakthrough period in terms of creativity. And why was this? The company was just about back on its feet after the war, its global distribution infrastructure was improving, and collectors and enthusiasts were demanding – and purchasing – playful and innovative new items. Let's take a look at some Steiff bears from this fertile time frame and see what makes them so special from the design and collector’s perspectives.

This first Steiff "Baby Boomer" bear is one tall drink of water. Zolac is five ways jointed and 40 cm tall, with his legs claiming about half that height! His head and body are made from shaggy caramel tipped mohair, while his feet, hands, and bib are detailed with apricot colored mohair. He has an open felt lined mouth, brown pupil eyes, and a hand stitched nose. Zolac is the hybrid of two very well know Steiff legacy designs – the shaggy “Zotty” bear pattern introduced in 1951, and the “lulac” style introduced in 1952. Zolac was only made from 1964 through 1966.

Our next fine furry friend is one of the hardest to find and most desirable post WWll Steiff bears produced. His name is Zooby Zoo Bear; he is 28 cm and head and arm jointed. He is made from tan mohair and has brown mohair feet. Zooby has brown and black pupil eyes, a shorter mohair muzzle, a brown embroidered nose, and an open peach felt lined mouth. His claws are made from white felt. He is self-standing; the soles of his feet are made from a brown leather-like material. Zooby was only made in 1964 and 1966. From a historical perspective, Zooby’s design is based somewhat on Steiff’s pre-war Zirkus-Baer or Circus Bear, a 32 cm standing bear produced from 1935 through 1939.

Now it is time to check out the bear many collector's consider to be Steiff's "First Lady." Here we have two fine examples of Steiff's Jackie bear design - one in 17 cm and one in 25 cm.  These beauties are five ways jointed and made from blond mohair. Their faces are detailed with brown and black pupil eyes and a brown hand embroidered nose and mouth. All Jackie bears have peach colored felt paw and foot pads, and a distinctly "portly" appearance: a short, stocky body; chunky, minimally curved limbs; and no breaks indicating their wrists. In terms of Steiff ID, every Jackie was labeled with a "raised script" style Steiff button, yellow ear flag, made in the US Zone tag, and special chest tag that read "Jackie Jubilee-Teddy 1903 - 50 - 1953. Overall, this pattern was produced in 17, 25, 35, and 75 cm from 1953 through 1955 only. 

It's easy to get blinded by the light - or in this case the white - when it comes to our next Baby Boomer bear design. Here we have a pair of Steiff's most unusual, and most desirable white Zotty bears. They are five ways jointed and made from very shaggy white mohair. Each has a peach colored mohair bib, peach felt paw pads, and a happy, smiling felt lined open mouth. Most collectors are quite familiar with his classic caramel mohair cousins - who appeared in 9 sizes and were beloved constants in the Steiff line from 1951 through 1978. On the other hand, these white wonders were only produced in 1960 and 1961 in 28 and 35 cm. 

And finally, although technically not a "bear," most collectors welcome Steiff's Koala bears with great enthusiasm into their hugs.   This particular example is 35 cm and made from tan and light tan mohair. He is five ways jointed and has mohair hands and feet that are quite detailed, with full digits noted. His chubby legs curve outward, and he almost looks to be in a yoga position as he sits. His face is detailed with black and brown pupil eyes, an open, felt lined mouth, and an inlaid grey felt nose. This pattern was made in 12 22, and 35 cm from 1955 though 1961; the smallest one is somewhat common, but the 22 and 35 cm versions are considered quite rare and desirable from the collector’s perspective. This was the first koala bear ever produced by Steiff.

Steiffgal hopes that this review of some of Steiff's Baby Boomer bears has brought you to a happy and peaceful place.

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