Saturday, January 18, 2014

I Get By With A Little Help From My Steiff Friends!

Steiffgal once had the great pleasure of interviewing author Maureen Stanton about her wonderful book about collectors and collections, called Killer Stuff and Tons of Money Maureen noted during the conversation that there is nothing collectors enjoy more than sharing their collections with other enthusiasts.  And Steiffgal could not agree more!  So earlier this week, she and two other Massachusetts collectors hit the road to visit two other Steiff collectors in Connecticut.  And it is very safe to say "A grand and Steiff-y time was had by all!"  Here are some of the amazing things Steiffgal and gang shared during their button-in-ear play date!

The first stop on the Steiff tour was to view the collection of Sandy Booth, where we were treated to a magnificent and well curated exhibit of Steiff rarities, most in excellent condition with all IDs!  Here is one of her display units - and it's ok to stare!  Which are your favorites?



There were so many great things to see at Sandy's, that Steiffgal felt like a kid in a candy store.  It's hard to pick out highlights when everything is so lovely, but here's a few things that really caught every one's eye. The first was this precious duo of a very large vintage Treff the Bloodhound and her little duckling friend. Treff is 35 cm, made from mohair, and sitting. Sitting Treffs were produced in 7, 10, 14, 17, 22, 28, 35, 43 and 50 centimeters. Treff proved to be a very successful design and was produced in a number of sizes, materials, and models through 1938. The darling duck is Steiff's Spiel Ente or Play duck.  He is standing, made from yellow wool plush, and 22 cm. His big feet and open beak are made from yellow felt.   He has red felt disks behind his black button eyes.  Pre-war, Play duck was produced in this size only from 1933 through 1943.  

Another cool item with wheel - ahem, real - appeal was Sandy's marvelous donkey on wheels. Donkey is 14 cm, standing, unjointed, and made from mohair. He has a very short black mane. His tail is made from felt with a black mohair tip. He has black airbrush highlights down his back, on the tips of his ears, and indicating his hooves. Donkey's face is sweet and baby-like; it is detailed with shiny black button eyes and delicate airbrushing to define his nose and mouth area. He sports his original red leather reins.  Donkey is mounted on a simple metal chassis and glides along on four red wooden eccentric wheels.  This donkey on wheels was produced in this size only from 1954 through 1961.

In addition to Sandy's great taste in Steiff, she also has a wonderful sense of how to display her collection.   Take for example, this glass domed vignette of four early Steiff birds perched on just the perfect branch.  Two of the birds are Finches, while the other two are Blue Tits.  The birds are all 10 cm, made from mohair, with stiffened braided hair wing tips, plastic beaks, and early metal feet.  Both the Finches and the Blue Tits were produced in this size from 1959 through 1961.  

After a delicious lunch, the Steiff Superteam was off to their second and final destination of the tour.  After a brief car ride, we arrived at the lovely home museum of Shelley Smith.  In addition to Steiff, Shelley also collects and sells antiques, dolls, miniatures, and Christmas related collectibles.  So viewing this remarkable setting was truly like being in Santa's magical workshop!  Choosing highlights from Shelley's collection was as challenging as it was to do with Sandy's.  Here is just the tip of the iceberg of the things that really called to Steiffgal.


It's hard not to oodle these two marvelous poodles! Here we have spectacular examples of two rare, 1950's era Steiff poodles. The white one on the left is the early version of Snobby. This top dog is standing and made from wool plush. She came in black or white. Her face is detailed with a black glass button nose and round brown and black glass pupil eyes. Her mouth and claws are defined by embroidery. Her coat is in what Steiff refers to as the "French" trim, meaning that it is fluffy basically from the waist area up; her lower torso and backside are more closely cropped. She also has longer tufts of fur around her knees, elbows, and the tip of her tail. This original Snobby was produced in 17 or 22 cm in 1952 only.  The black poodle on the right is Maidy.  She is standing and unjointed, and made from delightful and really unusual "Persian Lamb" style mohair. She has a slightly longer mohair "beard" around her chin. Her mouth and claw stitching is done in mauve colored embroidery floss. She was produced in 25 and 30 cm in 1959 only.

Eye bet you cannot resist this next highlight from Shelley's outstanding collection.  This sitting sweetheart is the early Susi cat.  She is 17 cm, made from grey mohair and is head jointed.  Her little tail wraps gently around her backside.  She his lovingly hand airbrushed with black stripes.  Her face is detailed with bluish-green and black slit pupil eyes, a pink hand embroidered mouth and nose, and large, pert ears.  Susi, who is named for a member of the Steiff family, was produced pre-war in 14, 14, 22, and 28 cm from 1936 through 1943.

You don't have to be from the Boston area to fall in love with this fourth highlight from Shelley's hug.  Here we have Steiff's extremely rare Boston Terrier on metal wheels.  The dog itself is 28 cm, unjointed, standing, and made from brown and tan felt.  His face is detailed with black button eyes and a simple black hand embroidered nose and mouth.  When he was new, he had a few black dots around his muzzle to indicate his whiskers.  Boston Terrier is mounted to metal axles with regular, not eccentric, round wheels.  Although his neckwear is not original, he did leave the factory in Giengen a century ago with a handsome leather collar.  Boston Terrier on wheels was produced in 22, 28, and 35 cm from 1913 through 1919.

Many thanks to Sandy and Shelley for opening up their homes to the Steiff community, as well as providing such gracious hospitality.

Steiffgal hopes this virtual tour has inspired you to share your collection with new friends, too!

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

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