Friday, March 31, 2017

Tag, You're It With These Frozen-In-Time Steiff Treasures


For many collectors, Steiff remains timeless in a fast changing world. Some of us have family heirloom treasures that have been passed down from generation to generation. Others collect vintage pieces that may represent a little piece of childhood, happy memories, or a favorite decade. Given the company's extensive ID system and records, it is pretty easy to date a piece of vintage Steiff. But sometimes, a great vintage item in "tissue new" condition also comes along with a big bonus - its retail price tag from the store that originally sold it. These tags help shed more information on the origins of the piece - and often generate a little nostalgia, too. Here are a few items from Steiffgal's collection with these great original sales tags.

All panda-monium broke out when this sweet cub joined Steiffgal's hug. This of course is Steiff's smallest fully jointed, post war panda. He is 15 cm, made from black and white mohair, and has an open, peach colored velvet lined mouth lined in black. His absolutely irresistible face is detailed with brown and black pupil eyes and a black hand embroidered nose; the black circles around his eyes are airbrushed. He retains his original pink silk ribbon. This particular model was made in 15, 22, 28, 35, 43, and 50 cm from 1951 through 1961. This panda was produced with grey felt paw pads from 1951 through 1956 and suede-like grey rubber material paw pads from 1956 onward. This panda has felt pads, dating it from the early 1950's. 


Panda retains his original white string tag from the high end, national department store Lord and Taylor. This store is still in business, and still sells Steiff items in their larger stores with toy and baby departments. The tag itself has four rows of numbers and codes. The only ones that Steiffgal can decipher is a code the second row - "5315" which matches his ear tag number, "6" on the third row which probably corresponds to 6 inches tall (his height), and 1.95 on the last row, which is most likely his price in dollars. Assuming that he sold in 1951, $1.95 in 1951 had the same buying power as $18.83 in 2017.

Now let's add this fantastic Tabby cat into this meow mix. Here we have Steiff's largest "Tabby" cat. She is 17 cm from head to toe, standing, unjointed, and made from off white mohair. Her back, arms, legs, tail, and the sides of her head are beautifully airbrushed with grey shading and black stripes, making her truly the cats meow! She has black and green plastic slit pupil eyes, a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth, and clear whiskers. She retains her original red ribbon and bell and purple hang tag indicating that her exterior is washable. Tabby was produced from 1949 through 1977 in 7, 10, 14 and 17 cm. This particular example, with her lentil style button and article number 2700/17, was made in the 1969-1977 time frame.

Tabby has her pricetag from Marshall Field and Company, a department store that began in the Chicago, IL area but expanded rapidly to other states in the mid to late 20th century. Steiffgal grew up in the Chicago area, and spent many happy hours in these stores, often nibbling on their legendary "Frango Mint" candies. Sadly, Marshall Field does not exist anymore, having been bought by the Macy's chain in the early 2000's. This tag has three rows of numbers. The only one that Steiffgal can decipher is the last row, being "18.00," most likely her price at the time. Assuming that she sold in 1969, $18.00 in 1969 had the same buying power as $122.42 in 2017.

Given Easter is on the horizon, let's take a look at a fine bunny as our last example of "tag, you're it!" Here we have the smallest example of Steiff's sitting rabbit. She is 8 cm, not jointed, and made from tan mohair that is airbrushed with tan, brown, pink, and black details all over her back, sides, and ears. She has beautiful black and brown pupil eyes, a red hand embroidered nose and mouth, and clear, playful whiskers. She retains her original blue silk ribbon and bell. This particular pattern was produced 8, 9, 15, and 18 cm from 1950 through 1974; she was called Rabbit from 1950 to 1966 and Sonny from 1967 onward. This particular example is numbered 3308,03, dating her in the 1965 to 1967 time frame.

This petite treat has her pricetag from Hahne and Company. Hahne's was a chain of department stores that was based in Newark, NJ and had branches throughout the central and northern parts of the state. The company was purchased by Lord and Taylor in the late 1980's. Rabbit's tag has three lines of numbers and codes. The last one, "3.00," is most likely her price at the time. Assuming she sold in 1965, $3.00 in 1965 had the same buying power as $23.21 in 2017.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on retail tags on vintage Steiff treasures didn't leave you hanging!

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

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