Sunday, October 6, 2013

This Delightful Steiff Diorama Deserves A Standing Ovation!

Some wonderful Steiff finds can't help but give collectors the "warm fuzzies," and today's main attraction does that seven times over! Check out this remarkable vintage Steiff diorama that not only features amazing woolen miniature treasures, but also has a very special history. This great piece is one of the auction highlights at the upcoming Teddy Dorado Steiff Auction, which will be held on October 26th in Bonn, Germany.

It's time to set the stage for this amazing Steiff scenery.  Overall, seven Nomotta woolen miniatures grace the item's green oval felt mat, which measures 23 cm long by 13 cm wide.  The mat is wrapped with a lilac colored, ruffled silk ribbon.  The stars of this show include:
  1. A 4 cm red and green robin with metal legs and a grey felt beak and tail; this design appeared in the Steiff line from 1934 through 1943 in 4 and 8 cm. 
  2. A 4 cm brown squirrel with a bushy tail and prominent felt ears; this item did not appear in any Steiff catalog and was most likely a sample or experimental product that was never produced commercially.
  3. A 4 cm pink pig with brown airbrushing, a brown felt tail, and a good luck green felt clover; like the squirrel there was no mention of this item in any of the standard Steiff reference materials.
  4. A 6 cm drake drake with webbed style orange metal feet, an orange felt beak, and a delightful white head pompom; this pattern was produced in this size only from 1934 through 1943 and came with and without orange felt slippers.
  5. A 3 cm ladybug with a red body and white and black head;  this design appeared in the Steiff line from 1934 through 1943 in 3 and 4 cm. 
  6. A 4 cm blue, yellow, and white blue tit bird with metal legs and a felt beak and tail; this design appeared in the Steiff line from 1934 through 1943 in 4 and 8 cm. 
  7. A 4 cm sitting grey and white Schnauzer - perhaps a Rattler in miniature? - with black bead eyes and tiny felt ears; like the squirrel and pig, this woolen miniature did not appear in any Steiff literature.   
So what's the storyline behind this exceptional and unique vignette? The piece itself was produced in 1935 as a farewell gift to a Steiff Manager named Mr. Rathgeber when he left the organization to start his own company in a a village right next to Giengen.  This company is still in business today and now manufactures woven strapping for industrial and manufacturing purposes.  

As luck would have it, when Mr. Rathgeber's daughter grew up, she married a Protestant priest and moved to Bonn, the same town where Teddy Dorado is located.  The daughter learned about Teddy Dorado by reading an article in the local newspaper about the auction house.  The daughter went to Teddy Dorado to share her family story about growing up in Giengen.  She also felt it was time to move this treasure along into the hands of a Steiff collector, where it could be loved and appreciated.  As a result, she consigned this diorama to Teddy Dorado, to be auctioned off and shared with the world.  

Collectors can't help but want a front row seat to this exceptional display.  Although none of the elements of the piece have any Steiff ID, it is undeniably made by Steiff and comes with full family provenance.  It is interesting to ponder why the workers at Steiff chose these exact seven items in these sizes to decorate this "going away" gift.  Some items clearly reflect good luck and fortune - like the pig and the ladybug - while others suggest new beginnings and resourcefulness, like the birds and the squirrel.  But the Schnauzer?  Perhaps Mr. Rathgeber had a dog, or liked this particular breed.  These mysteries only adds to the delight and charm of this truly one of a kind treasure.  For more information and photos on this piece, check out the official catalog listing by clicking here.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion concerning Mr. Rathgeber's diorama coming up for auction soon has added a "lot" of interest to the piece for you!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, found on an adventure or otherwise? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

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