Friday, May 10, 2013

Stop The Presses And Check Out This Amazing Steiff Paper Plush Teddy Bear!

Steiffgal's got news!  BIG news - about one of the rarest Steiff Teddies ever!  Did you know that NEWS actually is short for "north, east, west, and south?"  And it's certainly true that collectors from all over the world will be interested in this exciting announcement!

So stop the presses and take a look here!  Steiffgal has just learned that a marvelous paper plush bear coming up for auction later this summer in London at SAS Auctions!  The Ted is cataloged as... 

An extremely rare Steiff ‘paper-plush’ Teddy Bear, 5622, circa 1919, with backing cloth and pile made of brown wood fibers, black boot button eyes, pronounced muzzle, black horizontally stitched nose, mouth and claws, swivel head, jointed elongated limbs with similar finer wood cloth pads, hump, wood wool stuffing and FF button –12.1/2in. (32cm.) high (some professional darning repairs and loss of pile) 

Paper Plush Teddy bear is estimated at £7000 to £10000 ($10,893 to $15,562).

And just what makes this Steiff bear so newsworthy?  His remarkable materials and legacy - both perfect examples of Steiff's creativity and innovation, regardless of circumstances!  During and immediately following the First World War, Steiff was unable to procure adequate supplies of high end fabrics.  Mohair and felt manufacturing had decreased, and the materials produced were allocated towards military purposes.  In order to continue some production, Steiff was forced to come up with some alternative products, as well as materials.  Given the abundance of wood in the area, the company started producing things like building sets and furniture for children.  Steiff also found a way to produce a tweed-like material from local natural products.  This "paper plush" was made from nettles and called "Brennessel."  Paper plush items appeared in the line from 1919 through 1921, and included popular models of the company's standard line bears, dogs, cats, and rabbits.

Steiffgal spoke with auctioneer and toy expert Daniel Agnew to learn more about about this headline-making bear.  

Steiffgal:   Have you ever appraised or sold a Steiff paper Teddy prior to this one?  What was your reaction when you first laid eyes on him?

Daniel:  I first saw him from photographs and it was very exciting. But, when I saw him in the 'fur' it was a real thrill. I sensed I was handling a really important toy. So fragile and real survivor. I have never appraised or sold one before. But, there is a slightly larger example on Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel's website; and I remember seeing a pair, many years ago at Sotheby's in London, they were small and very torn. It must have been about 15 years ago. 

Steiffgal: What in your opinion makes this bear so unique or special, from the collector's perspective?

Daniel: It is believed that this is the first time an example of this rare Teddy bear has come up for auction for many years.  According to Steiff's records they made 19,556 of these bears, I know they made three different sizes. But, because the material is so fragile, I think very few have survived.  

Steiffgal:  Most people have never had the unique experience of seeing or holding one of these bears in person.  Can you describe what his covering feels like to the touch and anything else about his looks or dimensions that readers may find interesting about him?

Daniel:  It is hard to explain what he feels like, he is very light and has a dry feeling and crunchy. The pile is meant to be prickly, but now feels like an old dry towel (that doesn't sound very nice!). The other thing which is so important for collectors is the face, this bear has a beautiful look. I can't tell if he has any voice mechanism, I suspect not. One final point, the one in the Cieslik's book, Steiff-Teddy Bears, Love for a Lifetime, looks like a 1920s bear, one this one looks like a typical 1910 bear; so in my opinion this an early one. Could he be pre 1919? I would love to own him!

Steiffgal:  Tell us more about your auctions and how people can bid on this and other very special Steiff treasures.

Daniel:   This year I am joining forces with Special Auction Services, an auction house based to the west of London. Their website can be found at  I am holding two auctions in 2013.  The first is on July 18th, where the Paper Plush Teddy bear will go up for sale.  The second sale will be held on November 28th.  I do hope to see lots of Steiff collectors at the sale - or bidding and following along online at!

Steiffgal:  Daniel, thank you so much for sharing this very special item with the readers today, and best of luck at your upcoming auction events!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's Paper Plush Teddy bear has been a special edition for you!

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

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