Saturday, December 12, 2015

All I Want For Christmas Is...

Perhaps you know the expression, "Good things come in threes." In the Steiff world, that just might refer to a great find complete with its button, ear tag, and chest tag. Or Gucki, Pucki, and Lucki, the trio of beloved gnomes from the 1950's. For Steiffgal, today it is also the number of items from the upcoming December, 2015 Morphy Auctions toy sale she has just added to her holiday wish list. Check out these three lovely lots and see what makes them so interesting from the collector's perspectives.

Lot 268
Will you be my Teddy bear? Steiffgal bets that's the question on many collector's minds in regards to this first outstanding item. Here we have lot 268, which is called, "1940's Steiff White Bear." It is cataloged as... 

"A wonderful example of a mid-century Steiff bear with glass eyes in what appears to be in unplayed with all original condition. This original "Teddy," circa 1948, has a block button, working growler within his chest, vibrant white coloring & even his felt pads are bright showing no discoloration/wear/loss. A knockout Steiff and certainly a fine addition to any bear and/or Steiff collection! Size 20-1/2'' L."

Shield shaped nose
And just what makes this Ted so unbearably appealing? The list is as long as the one in Santa's hands right about now! Collectors will recognize this bear as a remarkable example of Steiff's early post war "Original Teddy." This bear was produced overall from about 1950-1966 in blonde, caramel, brown, and white in 14 sizes ranging from 10-100 cm. This early post war bear pattern featured the new square-ish, shield shape nose on cubs 18 cm and over.  (An example of this nose stitching pattern is featured here on the left.)  Although Steiffgal has not seen him firsthand, this particular example appears to be in just about tissue-new condition. His white mohair is brilliantly clean and full, and his pads look pristine. His size is most impressive and probably correlates to the 50 cm version. And it's hip to be square with his block style button. This rare ID, used on Steiff editions from about 1948-1952, is considered amongst the most desirable with collectors worldwide. 
Lot 258
Steiffgal is just quackers over this next auction pick. Here we have lot 258, which is called "Unusual Prewar Steiff Duck With ID." It is cataloged as...  

"A charming example of Steiff's early and seldom seen standing and unjointed 22 cm "Play Duck." His excelsior-stuffed body is made from light yellow wool plush that has very light losses consistent with age. He comes to life with yellow felt webbed feet, an open, smiling, dimensional beak, a touch of airbrush highlighting, red felt backed black button eyes, and a pom-pom (similar in look and feel to the company's woolen miniatures) as his crown. His small playful wings angle backwards; one has a very small home repair on the inside fold. Duck retains his trailing "f" button and traces of his red tag as his Steiff IDs. Play Duck was produced in this size only from 1933-1943; this particular example was made in the earliest part of that time frame. Condition: As noted. Duck is in very good condition overall. Provenance: From the Patsy Ziemer Collection; this item comes with copies of the Ziemer family history."

Other pre-war ducks
Bird's the word when it comes to Steiff's delightful early ducks. Ducks are a legacy pattern for Steiff, with felt ducks appearing in the company's debut catalog of 1892. It has been Steiffgal's observation that for the most part, Steiff's prewar ducks have always had a more playful than realistic look to them, with their typically oversized and prominent beaks and feet. They were the first animals placed on eccentric style wheels (so they waddled when pulled along), were often made in bright colors, and were sometimes produced wearing charming hats or jackets - adding to their appeal. (A great pair of late 1920's-era Steiff ducks is pictured here on the left for context.) This particular auction example under discussion today, with its irresistible presentation, nice condition, IDs, and "crowning glory" pom-pom, is seldom seen on the secondary market and is quite desirable. It would be a feather in anyone's cap to add this darling duck to their Steiff collection.

Lot 169
This last auction pick just may be on Santa's wish list, too! Here we have lot 169, which is called a Steiff Studio Elk. This big beast is cataloged as...  

"An amazing, almost life sized, mohair Steiff animal from the 1960's time period. These studio animals were quite expensive and often times were used as display pieces in various toy stores such as Strawbridge & Clothier, Lord & Taylor, F.A O. Schwarz etc. that sold Steiff animals, people, toys etc. This fellow is approx. 60" tall, his antlers slip into the head and due to age and original mounting process they droop a bit (resting onto his back) otherwise his overall height would probably be increased by at least another 8" - 10". In remarkable original "bright" condition with virtually no mohair loss, discoloration, wear, holes, etc.! Retains the typical script Steiff button in his ear. Size 60'' L."

Steiff display okapi
Oh deer! Who could resist this lifesized friend, especially around Christmas time? This display animal is technically a Rothirsch, or Red Stag. He was made in this size - 190 cm - in 1967 only. The heyday of Steiff's display animal production was in the 1960's, when the company made many more "common" lifesized animals (like giraffes, tigers, and donkeys), but also many "exotic" ones, like chamois bucks, kudus, and this stag. (A Steiff display okapi from the 1960's is pictured here on the left for comparison.) For the most part, display animals from this period were manufactured from mohair, stuffed with excelsior, had sturdy metal skeletons, and had extraordinary detailing - like the antlers on this stag. Some were produced for store displays; these were sometimes mechanized so that their heads would bob, their tails would move, or they would shake a limb or two. Others found their ways into private collections. Regardless of his previous life, this particular Red Stag would make any room feel like the holidays all year 'round today!

Steiffgal hopes this review of three top Steiff highlights from the upcoming Morphy Auctions sales event has been a triple-treat for you. Check out the entire auction catalog by clicking here.

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

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