Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Sneak Peak At Some Amazing Steiff Treasures To Be Sold This June At James D. Julia Auctioneers!

Start spreading the news... the STEIFF news, that is! Steiffgal is over the moon grateful to be helping out with a sales event every Steiff collector must know about! On Friday, June 13th, auctioneer James D. Julia will be selling about 120 absolutely remarkable vintage Steiff treasures from the amazing and world-class collection of well known and beloved Steiff enthusiasts Chuck and the late Cathy Steffes of Virginia. The collection consists mostly of bears, cats, and rabbits, so Steiffgal thought she would give you a behind the scenes look at a rare and breathtaking example of each today. But stay tuned, there will be more previews such as this to come over the next few months!

No need to give more than a few "blues clues" about the identity of this first masterpiece. Here we have a gorgeous example of Steiff's highly sought after Petsy the Baby Bear. Petsy is 16" or 40 cm tall, fully jointed, and made from wonderful brown tipped mohair. He retains his red ear tag and long trailing F Steiff button. Petsy had a very short, but very sweet, appearance in the Steiff catalog, only appearing from 1928 through the very early 1930's. This particular Petsy has a delightful body shape and weight, and has the regal appearance that he was a prized possession - but not everyday plaything - of a very lucky youngster many years ago. Steiffgal was drawn to him like metal to a magnet; Petsy literally called to her as she walked into the room where the all the Steiff bears and treasures awaited evaluation at Julia's.  

The Petsy pattern is very distinctive for Steiff in terms of the company's product design and development timeline. What makes him different than earlier designs, among other factors, are his intentional and prominent middle facial seam which runs vertically from his forehead across his snout, and his oversized, posable wire lined ears.  Together these features give him a pointedly "youthful" appearance.  During his years in the line, Petsy was produced in two commercialized versions. The first was a brown tipped mohair version with blue eyes (like the example available at Julia's) with pink/red facial and claw stitching. The second was a brass mohair version with brown and black pupil eyes and black facial and claw stitching. The tipped version appeared in ten sizes ranging from 15 to 50 cm sitting (or 22 to 75 cm standing) while the brass version was only produced in one size: 22 cm sitting or 32 cm standing. Tipped Petsy was also produced as a musical Ted in 17 and 20 cm (or 25 and 30 cm standing), on a four wheeled rolling cart in 20 and 25 cm, as a 17 cm puppet, and as a 17 cm purse over time.  

UPDATE 5/30/14:  Don't just take Steiffgal's word on how good this Petsy bear is! Click here to see him featured in THE NEW YORK TIMES... his story starts about halfway down the column!

Now it's quick like a bunny onto today's second auction highlight. Here we have a very seldom seen example of Steiff's larger Jack Rabbit with his button and red ear tag! Jack is standing and head and arm jointed. His head and hands are made from mohair, while his body and limbs are made from fine velvet. His face is detailed with velvet lined ears which are highlighted with a touch of pink airbrushing, oversized black and brown pupil eyes, a pink hand embroidered nose, a black hand embroidered mouth, and a little red felt circle to highlight his smile. His clothing is integral to his body. He is elegantly attired in brown tie shoes, blue and white striped socks, light orange pants, a tan shirt, burgundy jacket, and an oversized light blue bow. Special outfit details include a brown leather belt and big brassy buttons on his suit coat. Jack Rabbit was made in 22 and 28 cm from 1927 through 1932. This was the first time that Steiffgal handled an original Jack Rabbit, and she was absolutely amazed by his condition, rarity, and the fact that he still had the tiny accessories that make his outfit so special. Things like buttons, shoes, belts, and ties are frequently lost to time, love, and playwear.  

It is important not to confuse this Jack Rabbit design with Steiff's darling interpretation of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit. Jack Rabbit was a relatively early licenced Steiff item. The character was the star of a popular 1920's era series of American children's books by David Cory. The books were published in New York by Grosset & Dunlap. Steiff produced and sold almost 2,800 examples of Jack Rabbit between 1927 and 1931. 

This final auction highlight is worthy of a cat call - no pun intended! This gorgeous Fluffy on a Pincushion is quite the looker! Fluffy is 10 cm tall and head jointed. She is sitting, unjointed, and made from white and tipped mohair which has mellowed to a fabulous lilac color over time. Her little tail wraps sweetly around her body. Fluffy's face is detailed with tiny deep green and black pupil eyes, a simple hand embroidered pink nose and mouth, and clear monofilament whiskers. She sits - like a purrr-fect princess - upon a square pincushion made from scrumptious long pink mohair. And, just when you thought it couldn't get any better here, it actually does. Fluffy retains ALL of her Steiff IDs, including her long trailing F button, red ear tag, and amazing metal rimmed, named chest tag. This size Fluffy on a Pincushion was made from 1926 through 1932. A smaller version of this item, using a 7 cm version of Fluffy, was in the line from 1928 through 1934.

Steiffgal's literally grinning like a Cheshire cat over this fantastic feline. Everything about this kitten - from her perfect proportions, harmonious and gentle color configuration, and heart tugging appeal - truly makes her the cat's meow.

This hugely popular Fluffy design was introduced in 1926. Her details are quite typical of other products Steiff created during "the roaring 20's" - items tended to have large, childlike eyes, bright colors, playful textures, and a distinctly feminine touch to them. Fluffy was such a favorite that she was produced in nine standard sizes, as well as in the form of other novelties including a musical version, dangling "Charleston" style item, and as a tail turns head model. She appeared in the line overall through 1950. Her design was slowly replaced by Susi, another favorite sitting style cat, who was a line standard through 1978.

Steiffgal hopes this initial review of Steiff highlights from James D. Julia's June 2014 auction featuring the Steffes collection has been a top-tier experience for you.  The full catalog should be online at in early to mid-April.  Happy Steiff dreaming to you!

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

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