Who likes a jumbo Steiff surprise? Especially one that is unforgettable? Well, that would be Steiffgal - and most Steiff superfans - as well! Check out this email that will have you literally grinning from ear to ear. A reader from the south shares in part...
"I got this elephant in 1959. He is in great shape and very heavy. He is about 4 feet tall and 2-3 feet deep/wide. I
have never seen another this large. His red collar is felt. His arms and legs move and his head turns, allowing for changing
positions. He has been handled or touched very little. Tag in ear as it was in 1959.
My father's company was opening a new store, and they brought in 3
large Steiff pieces as a promotion. I remember that they were $150 each,
and to a 13-year old in 1959 that was an out of range amount. I loved
the elephant so much
that they let me work after school and on weekends until I had earned
enough to buy it. The other 2 sold fairly quickly and I believe - though never
confirmed - that my family bought the elephant early to insure he'd be mine.
The elephant had a special crate built for him while my parents
moved and I was at college. I built my own home 25 years ago and the
high shelf in my great room was designed just for him. He was liberated
from his cage when I moved in. He sits about 15 feet high watching all. I
love people's reaction to seeing him for first time. Especially kids!"
Pull up a chair and let's take a closer look at this sitting sweetie! What we have here is a fantastic example of a Steiff studio elephant. As the reader described, he is made from mohair, fully jointed, and in a great sitting position. He is so heavy because he is hand-stuffed with excelsior, and most likely has an internal metal support skeleton of some sort. He has great airbrushed highlights and detailing all over his body, but especially on his face and paws. Elephant has an open, smiling, felt lined mouth and a playful, upturned trunk. He dons a red felt collar bib around his upper torso. The basic pattern for this happy go lucky fellow was made in 100 and 150 cm in 1960 and then again in 1967. You can see a photo of him in "like new" condition; this illustration is from Pfeiffer's 1947-2003 Steiff Sortiment book.
The 1960's were huge in terms of Steiff studio elephant production. In addition to this sitting pattern, the company also made three standing life sized elephant designs. One was 150 cm and standing on all fours. The other two were on all fours but with one foot slightly lifted; these were made in 75 and 150 cm.
However, there is something extra special about the sitting version. It is Steiffgal's best guess that he is the jumbo version of - well, Steiff's beloved Jumbo toy elephant! This great design, is head and arm jointed, sitting up, and made from super soft, short grey mohair. He is exceptionally sweet and childlike - even joyful! His face is detailed with black and white google eyes and an open peach colored felt lined mouth. His paw pads are made from grey felt. He wears a red felt bib. Overall, Jumbo was produced from 1952 through 1975 and came in two standard line sizes, 22 and 35 cm. Steiffgal has an unusual 15 cm version of this big beauty - it is probably a sample that never went into full production. This petite pachyderm and his more standard 35 cm version mom are pictured here on the left. Can't you see the family resemblance to the studio version?
Steiffgal hopes today's discussion on Steiff's sitting elephants has taken a heavy load off your feet.
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