Friday, June 5, 2015

Stumbling Across A Fantastic Steiff Feline

Steiffgal's not lyin'... this story is gonna knock you right off of your feet!  Check out this note from a reader who just stumbled across the most adorable and extremely rare lying Steiff cat - for free!  Alicia writes:

Thanks in advance for any help or more information with this cat.  I came upon her at a garage sale today. It was actually in a FREE box. I didn't even know about Steiff but grabbed the old stuffed animals in there - well, because they looked old! It wasn't until I got home and tried to make out the metal piece on her ear that I realized I had an old Steiff cat. Yay!  I've done quite a bit of searching and can't find one just like her so I'm asking you if you could give me any more information.

She looks like she's laying down. Tan or blond in color. I think mohair. Looks lightly striped. The eyes are green - and maybe glass? You can see stitching in the seams. Her nose and mouth are pink thread. A little red dot marks the mouth. The inside of the ears are not felt - they are the same as the rest of the body. The arms and legs do not move - the head rotates 360 degrees. She is 9.5" long NOT including the tail. The Steiff pin is a dark silver color and the last F loops down and goes until under the E. No other tags.
Thanks much!!

This pretty kitty (and her story) are gonna have everyone talking for sure! Steiff named her simply Katze or Cat. She is is made of tan mohair, is head jointed, and is in a lying or crouching position. She is airbrushed with light brown stripes, making her one terrific Tabby. Her tail is quite long and thin and is positioned straight outward. Cat's youthful face comes to life with oversized green and black slit pupil eyes and a pink hand-embroidered nose. When she was new, she left the factory with a pastel colored silk ribbon and little metal bell.  Steiff produced this design in white, and white and brown, in 13 and 15 cm from 1927 through 1928 only. Having seen the 13 cm version in real life, it is Steiffgal's guess that this is the 15 cm.  Given her very limited time in production, this pattern is seldom seen on the secondary market and is usually of great interest to collectors.  

This precious pattern was also made as a "couch animal cat" - meaning the kitten was mounted on an oval felt mat which was trimmed in a ribbon ruffle - in 10 and 12 cm from 1928 through 1930.   

In addition to its rarity, there are several factors that really add to the appeal of Alicia's lucky find. First, her cat was designed and produced in the mid to late 1920's.  This period is emerging as a new favorite for collectors, and is famous for its playful, wide-eyed, innocent, and whimsical looking patterns - think Molly the Puppy, Teddy Clown, and Bully the Bulldog, for example.  Secondly, its general lying position design is based on some of the company's late 19th century legacy cat designs, which usually had a woolen ball between their two front paws.  You can see an example of this above on the left. And thirdly, Alicia's kitten has a truly distinctive front and back leg construction.  These bent limbs are graceful, angular, and have lifelike proportions.  Such attention to detail is not seen often on earlier cat models.  

Now for the question that often turns Steiffgal into a real-life Grumpy Cat.  So what's the value of this lying kitten? As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiffgal has not see the item firsthand to check for any structural or aesthetic issues that do not appear easily in photos - like a smoky smell, dry mohair, insect damage, or other problems.  Clearly, someone could argue that this cat is worth nothing, as that's what Alicia paid for it!  But, assuming that it is indeed as lovely as the photos suggest, it is possible that it could sell at auction in the $800 to $1,200 range.  A slightly smaller version of a similar lying Steiff cat from the same time period realized $1,185 at a James D. Julia Antique Advertising, Toy, and Doll Auction in 2014.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this great found lying Steiff kitten was the cat's meow for you.

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


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you SteiffGal for the amazing information!! You made my day! :) Alicia

  2. wow, that's a great story! We should all be so lucky!! Alicia is a very lucky lady! :0)

  3. wow, that's an amazing story! We should all be so lucky! Alicia is one lucky lady indeed! :0)


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