Friday, February 12, 2016

Old And New Steiff Treasures On Offer At The Upcoming Morphy Auctions' Premier Toy Sale!

It's the most wonderful time to be a Steiff collector - especially if you are looking to add rare and wonderful treats to your growing Steiff hug. Auction season is truly upon us all! Last week Steiffgal shared some highlights with you from an upcoming auction in Germany. Today, let's cross the pond back to the US to check out an upcoming auction a little closer to home that also features a number of wonderful Steiff treats. On March 4th and 5th, Morphy Auctions in Denver, PA is having a premier doll and toy sales event. And there's a few lots there that truly caught Steiffgal's eye. Come take a look, too!

This first Morphy Auction pick - an antique Steiff farmer - is quite the charmer! He is lot 722, and is cataloged as...  
"Here we have a Steiff figure in the form of an early 20th century farmer. Starting in 1909, Steiff made a series of fully jointed felt dolls representing farmers from regions around Germany as well as France and Switzerland. Each was authentically dressed in regional clothing. These appeared in the line overall through the 1920's. This example is 12-1/2" tall and is in all original, as found condition. His clothes are integral to his body. He retains his ear button as well as 9 decorative Steiff buttons on his vest. Unlike most Steiff dolls of his era, this one has a most unusual horizontal facial seam. Overall, he is in very good condition with uniform dustiness/soiling, most noticeable to his flesh colored face and hands. His black shoes have lost coloring. His right shoe shows distress and losses and is in need of some attention and repair. However, his felt soles are intact and just lightly soiled. Auction estimate: $1,000-2,000."

In addition to his charming looks and personality, this delightful antique doll comes with a robust provenance. According to the consignor, 

"In 1950, when I was about 13, my friend's family was the last tenant to move out of their apartment building which was scheduled to be torn down. After the truck was packed, we explored the empty building. In the attic, we found empty whiskey bottles, clothing, a long auburn hair switch, a shorter blond switch, a porcelain figure of a boy, and this doll.

At that time, I didn't know the significance of Steiff. He was so unusual and fit in with my German heritage. I fell in love with him and had him in my room until I went away to college. When I married, he moved from my mother's home to my new home. I took him to a doll repair shop, trying to find out more about him. The owner found him in a doll book, where I learned that he was first produced in 1909, and at that time he had a value of $848.

To protect him, I made a shadow box from a picture frame. I wired him securely in the box, where he hung on the wall of my home. It is time someone else has the pleasure of getting to know him. I hope he will bring his new owner as much pleasure as he has brought me the last 65 years."

Steiffgal definitely has a plush-crush on this funny felt fellow! Based on his appearance and time frame, he is a great example of Steiff's early character dolls which were sometimes referred to as "Karikaturpuppen."  These dolls had exaggerated proportions (like really long feet, huge hands, very round or very narrow faces, and extremely skinny or quite rotund body shapes) and very playful personalities.  These dolls were prominent in the line through the early 19-teens, when they were slowly replaced by Steiff dolls with more lifelike and/or childlike proportions and appearances. 

This second auction highlight at Morphy's is as welcome as a bouquet of tulips in springtime.  Here we have lot 696, Steiff's Flowers Bear.  She is cataloged as...

"Flowers" was the first in the series of innovative designs produced exclusively for Steiff Club members starting in 2004. These selections were called "Margarete Steiff Editions" and were available for purchase only through the luck of a draw. 500 Flowers bears were produced, with the number of applicants worldwide eclipsing this many times over. Flowers is 33 cm, fully jointed, and made from white mohair that is embroidered with colorful floral motifs overall. She has black button eyes, a red hand embroidered nose and mouth, white felt paw pads, and blue claw stitching. Flowers has a special ear button and a black and silver tag sewn into her side seam as her IDs. This example is number 117/500, and comes complete with her original literature, which is personalized to her first owner, and a special edition box. This is only the second "Flowers" edition that this cataloger has seen at auction in the last decade, and unquestionably the most sought after 21st century Steiff edition today. Condition: As detailed. In excellent to like new condition. Auction estimate: $500-1,000" 

There's no need to soft pedal why this bear is so amazing!  Steiffgal was the US Steiff Club Manager in 2004 when Flowers became available to club members.  The response to this cub was overwhelming, and Steiffgal fielded dozens of phonecalls each day about the bear and the process for winning one.  It seemed at the time club members were willing to get into a fist fight to acquire one!  Steiff came out with a series of innovative Margarete Steiff club bears over time, but none came close to the inherent quality and design of this first one. Everything about this bear is magical, from her practically handmade fabric, to her classic design, to her unique button and tag, to her presentation and packaging.  Because of her design integrity and authenticity, Steiffgal would pick Flowers as the one bear in recent memory that would fit in equally as well in collections that focus on new or vintage Steiff treasures.

It's up, up, and away with this final auction highlight under review today.  Here we have one of Steiffgal's most favorite editions from the early 1990's - Amelia the pilot.  She is one of two bears featured in lot 698, which is cataloged as...

"This lot includes two Steiff limited edition bears that are seldom seen on the secondary market. The first is Hercule, who was produced for the World Association of Children's Friends (AMADE), founded by Princess Grace of Monaco in 1963. This social service organization advocates for children's rights worldwide. Hercule is 28 cm, fully jointed, and made from soft mohair. He wears a gold plated medallion, featuring the logos of both Steiff and AMADE, suspended from his green silken ribbon. Hercule has a particularly sweet, childlike appearance. This design was produced in 1995 in an edition size of 3,000; this example is number 1365. The second item is Steiff's Amelia Earhart bear. She is 35 cm, fully joined, and made from rose-colored mohair. This design was produced overall in an edition size of 1,000 pieces in 1993; of those, 650 were dressed in an authentic, high quality leather pilot outfit for the high end department store I. Magnin & Company; the remaining 350 were detailed with a simple neck ruff. Condition: As detailed. Both editions are complete with all IDs, original packaging, paperwork, and documentation. In excellent to like new condition. Auction estimate: $400-600."

Both Hercule and Amelia are a dynamic duo who are seldom seen on the secondary collector's market.  Amelia is particularly collectible and rare, and gets Steiffgal's vote as the most appealing dressed Steiff bear from the last three decades. Her rose color and lanky frame are quite feminine, and a striking complement to her brown, rugged pilots outfit.  Her outfit takes flight with leather trimmed goggles, a buckled flight hat, a white silk scarf with trim, and a bomber-style jacket detailed brown fur trim, two front pockets, and a zipper and snap front. She even has a tiny golden I. Magnin flight style pin on her collar. Like many early special Steiff items from the 80's and early '90's , she is not numbered, but is designated as a "collector's edition" noted on her special chest tag and ear tag.  She is the only edition ever produced for I. Magnin, which has since been absorbed by the Macy's chain of department stores.   

Steiffgal hopes this review of some of the fine Steiff items up for sale at Morphy's in the next few weeks has generated "lots" of interest with you!  You can 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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