Friday, June 2, 2017

Flipping Out Over This Super-Sized Steiff Seal!

Care to dive head first into a little Steiff mystery?  Then take a look at this question from a new friend from Down Under, who asks about a delightful, well traveled rarity originally purchased in Japan.  Through a series of notes, Allison shares...

Hi from Australia!

I have a Steiff seal that is so big that I can not find him in any of the lists available to me.  He was purchased as a one off in the Steiff shop in Tokyo some years ago for a very high price. The Japanese lady who purchased him said she carried it on to the plane and he took up a spare seat with her in business class. Lucky seal!

His label reads on one side "PA55 MASS73 Covering 65% PAC 35% Cotton," and on the other side "Made in Germany for Steiff Knopf im ohr." There is evidence of some very faded numbers but I am certainly not able to discern them even under bright light.

The gold button is buried deep in the thick fur, with the end of the yellow label, and is bright and clear. It is on the front flipper. The fur is very detailed and varies in patterning over the whole animal. It is like a real fur coat with lots of tones of soft browns, creams and some grey blushings. There is a very definite lay of the fur just like a real animal's coat. 

He has about a 30 inch waist and while the length is hard to measure he is about 40 inches along the table top... without stretching his flippers!  

Would you be able to tell me about him, and his approximate value today?

Many thanks for your help. Cheers, Allison" 

Wow, this find makes quite a splash! What Allison has here appears to be Steiff's very large "Sitting Seal."  This great item is resting on his belly and front flippers, softly stuffed, and made from woven fur. He is officially measured at 100 cm, his length. From what Steiffgal can research, he is among the largest, if not the largest, example of a seal pattern Steiff has ever made on a commercial level. The company has made several 80 cm seals in the past, starting with two display patterns from 1960. Allison's seal was made from 1995-1996 and is not cataloged as a display piece, although it's dimensions certainly qualify it for that status. 

It is interesting to note how big seals actually are in real life. The largest species, Southern Elephant Seals, can weigh up to 8,500 pounds; males measure about 20 feet long while females are about half as long. Even the smallest seals are pretty big; Ringed Seals average 5 feet in length and usually weigh between 110 and 150 pounds, 
with males and females being about equal in size. As such, if Allison's seal was "lifesized," it would most likely be a lifesized baby seal.

Now for the question that throws Steiffgal into the deep end - his value.  As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and she has not seen this seal firsthand to inspect for condition and issues that don't appear on film, like odors, insect damage, and other subtle losses and problems.  Given he is clean and as presented, Steiffgal thinks an auction bid in the $400-600 range might seal the deal for him here in the USA.  

Steiffgal hopes you found this discussion on Allison's big seal beachy-keen!

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

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