Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Good (Steiff) Things Come In Threes At Morphy's Early Fall Toy Auction

Looking to add something really special to your growing Steiff hug?  A good place to do so may be at Morphy's upcoming Toys, Dolls, Trains, and Marbles early fall auction on September 10th - 12th, 2015.  This sales event, which features delightful temptations from every toy category, also has several very fine Steiff lots on offer, too.  Here are three marvelous highlights that truly caught Steiffgal's imagination.  This auction, and these early Steiff treasures,  just may make saying "fairwell" to summer a little easier!

Regular readers of this blog won't be surprised that Steiffgal has a big case of puppy love over this first auction highlight.  It is lot 111A and is cataloged as...  
 "A highly desirable Steiff dog of the early part of the 20th century. This fellow retains his original tag as well as stiff straw collar. Overall his coloring, orange and cream, with a velvet nose, he is in very fine plus condition with only minimal mohair loss in a couple spots. Most likely a grading of 8.5 or 9 out of a 10 point scale would be appropriate? Size 9" to top of head.  Estimated at $1,250 - $1,750."

This top dog is Steiff's wonderful Bully the Bulldog. Bully was launched in 1927 and was an instant sensation with both children (as a plaything) and adults (as a collectible and an accessory). He was modeled on the French Bulldog—the “it” companion of those in the know all across Europe at the time. Like this wonderful example, all vintage Steiff Bullies were head jointed, had oversized brown and black glass pupil eyes, a hand-embroidered black nose, and a simple snout and jaw constructed to give him his requisite jowls. Most were black and white or orange and white. Bully was made in velvet and mohair, as well as sitting and standing, in sizes ranging from 10 to 50 cm.  This original Bully appeared in the Steiff catalog through 1939.  

And just what makes this Bully the pick of the Morphy's litter? Collectors can't help but notice his majestic size, vibrant coloring, and fantastic overall presentation. His spectacular horsehair collar, a traditional accessory of "society dogs" of his period, appears to be in like-new condition. Last, and hardly least, he retains both his long trailing F Steiff button as well as his rare metal rimmed chest tag - in itself a coveted rarity.  Although Steiff records show that 250,000 Bullies were manufactured from 1927 through 1932, this example is truly one in a million.  

If you are looking for some wonderful Teddy hugs, this next selection has your name written all over it.  It is lot 121A and is simply cataloged as...
 

"Fully jointed bear appears to be a Steiff, with sewn nose and black button eyes, felt paw pads with hole in one. Some soil and wear. Very appealing face! Condition (Very Good).  Estimated at $400 - 600."

This bare bear indeed is a Steiff, and given his presentation, is probably from the 1906-1910 or so time frame.  His size is not specified, but because his nose stitching pattern is horizontal, it is Steiffgal's best guess that he probably measures between 12" and 14" tall, plus or minus a smidge.  The company's precious cubs from this early era are known for their long arms, spoon shaped paws, narrow feet, pronounced back humps, and black button eyes.  Steiff bears in this height range from the turn of last century were often called "doll bears." This is so because their size was similar to that of a typical little girl's doll, and to make these bears appealing as toys for both boys and girls. 

This bear has it buttoned up as an auction pick. His mohair has a delightful sheen to it, and he sports that marvelous Steiff "sitting slouch" which only comes with time. Ted's endearing face calls to collectors with its close-set eyes and distinctive, pointy nose. And, if you look closely at his head shot online, you can see that he appears to retains his pièce de résistance, his Steiff Knopf im Ohr.  What's not to love?

This last Morphy's Steiff auction highlight may simply bowl you over.  It is lot 997 and is cataloged as...

"A nice example of an early Steiff 9 Pin in the form of a dog. Velvet covered body with shoe button eyes and still retaining a button in the right ear this fellow has a minor tear/aged repair at his collar on the right side. Overall very nice condition with minimal soiling to velvet. Size 7-1/4''T. Estimated at $250 - 450."  

There's no need to beg for more information on this cute canine. What we have here is a sweet example of an early Steiff velvet Dachshund skittle. The dog itself is in the begging position, unjointed, and made from tan velvet that has been airbrushed with brown highlights. His adorable face comes to life with black button eyes and a simple hand embroidered nose and mouth. Remarkably, this pup retains his tail, which is long and narrow and has a tendency to snap off over time.  The dog is mounted on a solid wooden plinth which is shaped somewhat like a bowling pin and designed to tumble over upon impact; the dog plus the plinth is called a skittle.

This skittle left the factory in Germany as part of a set of skittles, a centuries old parlor game analogous to what we now call bowling.  Skittle sets appeared in Steiff's 1892 debut catalog.  The sets produced for the European market had nine total skittles, while those for America had ten total (as in tenpin bowling).  Steiff's animal skittle sets consisted of a series of pins and one kingpin; the kingpin wore a felt jacket and crown, and was mounted on a slightly taller plinth.   Each skittle set came with two multicolored felt covered balls.  The dachshund on the skittle is a standard line item that was produced in 10, 14, and 22 cm from 1901 through 1927.  However, Steiff's dachshund skittle set was only produced from 1901 through 1912.  Given that early time frame, this example conceivably could have an elephant, blank, or small trailing F button as his Steiff ID.  

This final Steiff selection beats a perfect game anytime.  Steiff skittles are absolute rarities as so few exist today; they were basically designed as a sporting goods to be used and enjoyed, and most were.  As such, this example in lovely vintage condition with ID represents the best of all worlds for collectors, given that it is both a skittle and a dog.  It is interesting to note that a slightly older felt Steiff dachshund skittle realized $1,718.25 at James D. Julia in 2014. Easy to display and impressive in presentation, this Steiff dachshund skittle might just take home a blue ribbon as well in this upcoming sales event.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of the finest Steiff collectibles on offer at Morphy's upcoming auction has been a highlight experience for you.

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

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