Saturday, October 18, 2014

Behind The Scenes Of The October, 2014 Teddy Dorado Steiff Auction Event

It's fun to talk Steiff - especially with professionals who have the distinct pleasure of working with the brand we all know and love for a living!  Steiffgal recently had the wonderful experience of chatting with auctioneer Carsten Esser from Teddy Dorado about his upcoming Steiff sales event on October 25, 2014 in Germany.  This is the company's lucky 13th Steiff auction, and there are so many interesting items available at this sale, both for new and vintage Steiff enthusiasts... and the catalog in its entirety can be viewed here.  But for right now, lets go behind the scenes and learn a little more about this auction and the stories behind some of its highlights!

Steiffgal: Of all the delightful items coming up for auction, which ones would you most like to add to your own collection?

Carsten Esser: I have collected Steiff since I was a young boy, and have forever loved the company's very small dogs. They have always seemed to have such fantastic craftsmanship, and even today I wonder how it is possible to bring excelsior and plush to life in such a magical way. The upcoming Teddy Dorado Auction features some minty mint doggies from the 1950s; this of course brings me great pleasure - and hopefully the same to Steiff dog collectors from all over the world. A wonderful example is lot 13-1204, a 10 cm St. Bernard dog from 1953-1955 in pristine condition; he is pictured here on the left. 

However, when I founded Teddy Dorado four years ago, I made the very difficult decision not to actively collect Steiff anymore. I did so because I felt that if I continued to build my collection, I could not be a fair agent between those who would like to buy and/or sell fine Steiff treasures. So this fabulous example will have to find a new home that is not with me and my family.  But I am certain that this will not be a problem!

Steiffgal: Although you have handled Steiff for many years, and are very familiar with the company's products from the very beginning, are there any items in the upcoming auction that were new to you? 

Carsten Esser: Whenever an item appears that I have not seen in the past, well, this is always a very exciting experience indeed! And yes, this did occur with an item in this auction. We ran a Steiff valuation clinic during a Steiff Club event in a very large shopping center in southern Germany some months ago. Here, someone brought us a Steiff pedal car, which is lot TD 13-2601. The owner told us that it was his favorite toy when he was a kid, that the car still works very well, and that he hoped that now this vehicle could find a good new home. This was the first time I had seen one of these in person, and all I could think about was how exciting it will be to share this great and unusual find with the rest of the Steiff collecting world!  (This pedal car is pictured here on the left.)

But then the story gets even more interesting! The same man with the Steiff pedal car then took a tiny woolen miniature Pomeranian dog (now lot TD 13-7009) out of this pocket. He told me that he suspected that the dog was made by Steiff due to its white paper ear tag, but that it felt it was probably not terribly valuable and not worth enough to be auctioned off. Much to his surprise, I told him that the small dog would also do quite well at auction, and that his car and dog would be important lots in the upcoming October overall sale.  (This dog is pictured here on the left.)

I sometimes do see very rare or uncataloged items, and that is due in part to our business location, which is relatively close to Giengen.  My company very often receives consignments from people who live nearby the Steiff factory who have - or had - relatives who were employed by Steiff. And that is true in this auction as well, where we are listing a large and most likely one of a kind rabbit, lot TD 13-1503, from the estate of a former long term Steiff employee.  He is brown and white dralon and was most likely a prototype that was never put into production.  I particularly like his eyes, which are backed in felt. (This rabbit is pictured here on the left.)

Steiffgal: Your printed catalogs are so professionally done, well illustrated, and most informative. But how do you decide what appears on the cover? Is it the age of the items, or the lot numbers, or values, or something else?

Carsten Esser: We try to have the items on our catalog covers to be representative of the entire auction, as well as highlight some very special pieces, too. We choose items which are the "celebrities" of an auction (like Black Jack, the 1912 black bear who appeared on our summer, 2014 catalog cover and hammered for 15,000 €), items in extremely good or like new condition, very unusual treasures (like the White Teddy Girl on a mohair cushion who also appeared on our summer, 2014 catalog cover and hammered for 8,000 ), highly valued items, and things that go together nicely, like "couples." Our current cover features two such pairs: two small Teddy bears (lots 13-7001 and 13-7002) and a Fluffy cat and Rattler dog who have been together for many, many decades. They all came to us from the same private estate. If you check out our fall, 2014 catalog cover, you'd have to agree that they look great together! (Cover pets Fluffy and Rattler are pictured here on the left.)

Steiffgal: Carsten, as always, thank you so much for your time, and sharing some of your behind the scenes auction secrets with the Steifflife readers today!  

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

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