Sunday, June 19, 2016

Welcome To Our World Of Toys!

It's no surprise that a lot of Steiff collectors associate all things button-in-ear with F.A.O. Schwarz. After all, it was at this magical place that many youngsters first encountered Giengen's finest Teddy bears, animals, and dolls. The Schwarz brothers "discovered" Steiff bears around 1906, and immediately started to feature them in their stores in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Over time, many Schwarz locations had collections of life-sized, or "Studio" animals displayed throughout their stores, Steiff animals playfully decorating their store windows, and a "Noah's ark" range of mohair and plush friends available for sale. Just thinking about those things puts Steiffgal in a very happy place! Here on the left, you can see a 1967 advertisement for the store, featuring a Steiff Teddy bear in the upper left hand corner.

Steiff and F.A.O. Schwarz also have a very special relationship in terms of exclusive items. Although the stores had been featuring Steiff items since the turn of last century, it wasn't until the 1950's that Steiff began designing and creating store-exclusive products in very small edition sizes for F.A.O. Schwarz. As such, these rare and extremely special items are particularly desirable to collectors today - especially because the future of F.A.O. Schwarz is unclear. If you are interested in F.A.O. Schwarz Steiff exclusives (and other outstanding vintage playthings), then be sure to check out the upcoming Premier Toy Sale at Morphy Auctions on June 24th-26th, 2016. The sale features a fantastic collection of delightful Steiff F.A.O. Schwarz exclusives and other North American rarities. Here are a few that really caught Steiffgal's eye!

There's no need to be stand-offish with this first F.A.O. Schwarz highlight. Here we have lot #805, Steiff's Snobby the Poodle. She is cataloged as...

"Made exclusively for F.A.O. Schwarz. Snobby is 35 cm, five ways jointed, and made from grey wool plush. She is styled in a very fluffy "French" cut. She has brown and black pupil eyes and a distinctive black leather nose. She has her original red head bow but her neck bow has been lost to time. This distinctive Snobby was produced from 1962-1968 in 28 and 35 cm as an exclusive item for the high-end toy retailer FAO Schwarz in the US. Condition: As noted. Snobby retains her Steiff button and fully legible yellow ear tag. In very good to excellent condition overall with just a touch of dust and light playwear. Size 13" L. Estimate: $400-600."

And what makes this poodle such a blue ribbon selection? Her presentation, proportions, and impish personality, to start with! Her leather nose and distinctive grey wool plush material are also quite appealing, and add just a touch of "upscale" charm to her. Steiff is well known for their poodle patterns, but this one truly is in a class of her own. 

And now we are off to the races with lot #888, a fully accessorized Steiff Pony. This pretty filly is cataloged as...

"Made exclusively for F.A.O. Schwarz. Pony is 17 cm, standing, unjointed, and made from tan mohair that is airbrushed with lovely chestnut highlights. Her mane and tail are made from very long, greyish-white mohair. Her face is detailed with black button eyes and a little hand stitched and airbrushed mouth. She is fully and originally attired with her saddle, blanket, reins, and headwear. Pony was produced from 1963-1972. According to the original F.A.O. Schwarz catalog, she is described as “… a handsome 8.5 inch steed covered in tan and white mohair plush with flowing white mane and tail. Complete with brindle, saddle, and saddle blanket. An FAO Schwarz exclusive. A toy to excite your child’s imagination, to give fun-filled hours, and provide fond memories that happily can last a lifetime.” Condition: As noted. In excellent condition overall with all IDs. Size 8'' L. Estimate: $250-500."

This pony is a triple crown winner all around. Her accessories are delightful, accurate, and in perfect scale to her body. Her coloration and impressive long mohair mane truly bring her to life. And her condition appears almost like new. Steiff did a remarkable job on this edition, and it is obvious why it remains a collector's favorite half a century onward. 

It's time to connect the dots towards our final F.A.O. Schwarz Steiff auction highlight. Here we have lot #870, Steiff's Royal Dally Dalmatian. Spotty Dotty is cataloged as...

"Made exclusively for F.A.O. Schwarz. Dally is 14 cm and made from white mohair which is marked with black airbrushed spots. His ears are black mohair. He is in the "begging" position and is head jointed. His face is detailed with black button eyes and a black hand embroidered nose and mouth. His lips are highlighted with a touch of red airbrushing. Royal Dally wears his original red leather collar and retains his chipped red wooden F.A.O. Schwarz tag; his crown, cape, and other IDs have been lost to time. Dally was made in 1963 only as an exclusive item for the upscale US toy retailer F.A.O. Schwarz. Condition: As noted. In very good condition overall with just a touch of dust and light playwear. Size 5-1/4'' T. Estimate: $200-400."

This princely pet is truly Steiff royalty. Steiff created several exclusive Dalmatians for F.A.O Schwarz in the early 1960's, most likely due to the popularity of the 1961 Disney film 101 Dalmatians. Many of these patterns were based on standard line Steiff items of the period with just a few tweaks or modifications. However, Royal Dally is really unique. His body position is quite unusual; he is one of the few, if not the only, postwar dog produced in this unusual sitting up begging position, with his arms prominently hanging in front of his body. There are many dogs cataloged as "begging," but they are usually sitting with all paws on the ground. Royal Dally also has solid black mohair ears and is the only Steiff Dalmatian that Steiffgal knows of with this design treatment.

Steiffgal hopes this review of some of the fine F.A.O Schwarz Steiff exclusive items up for sale at Morphy's sale next week has generated "lots" of interest with you! You can check out the entire auction catalog by clicking here; the Steiff items start at lot #800. All Steiff will be sold on Saturday, June 25th starting at 9am east coast USA time. Best of luck to all bidders!

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

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