Saturday, November 25, 2017

Steiff Dreams Do Come True!

Look what I got! All collectors know that fabulous feeling when something from their Steiff wish list finally makes it into their hugs for real! Check out this note from a new friend from Europe who recently scored her dream piece - at a dream price! Ann-Charlotte shares,

"I wanted to tell you some exciting news. I just added a very special treasure to my collection - an original Steiff Jackie for only $85! Her mohair is intact and she retains her original pink bow, button in ear, and US Zone tag! I have been looking for an original Jackie for a long time but the few I've found have been too expensive. And she is almost in mint condition!

I got her at a nice local auction house specializing in local antiques and folk art at affordable prices. They sometimes have "odd" objects like toys. They hold country auctions every two weeks. The items for sale are posted on the Internet the preceding Friday and you can bid online up until the live auction begin at noon on Sunday. The auctioneers didn’t know what it was. It was advertised as "Steiff softie" - which doesn't sound very interesting - and no one other than me was interested.

Best wishes from Sweden,
Ann-Charlotte"

Such great news has Steiffgal tickled pink! Yes indeed, this is Steiff's delightful Jackie bear. These were produced in 17, 25, 35, and 75 cm from 1953 through 1955 overall. Regardless of size, all original Jackie bears were made from blonde mohair, had felt paw pads, and were five ways jointed.  Their irresistible faces came to life with brown and black glass pupil eyes, a brown hand embroidered nose and mouth, and a touch of airbrushing.  These special cubs are also known for their their lone horizontal pink noses stitches, airbrushed belly buttons, and distinctly impish expressions and personalities.

Jackie has always been a party animal! Steiff produced this design in honor of the golden anniversary of the Teddy bear - specifically the 50th anniversary of the registration of 55PB at the Heidenheim district court in 1903. As such, she was intentionally designed to look significantly different then the company's other Teddy bears of the time. You can't help but notice Jackie's distinctly stocky proportions, especially in reference to her torso and limbs. (This is meant in the most loving way possible - no judgement intended!) And, her chubby arms don't have the clear break at the wrists as many early 1950's Steiff bears do. All original Steiff Jackie bears left the factory in Giengen with a special 50th anniversary chest tag and a celebratory booklet as part of their branding and IDs. Most Jackies also have a US Zone tag, which appeared on Steiff's postwar items through about 1953 or 1954.

Steiffgal has always considered Jackie to be Steiff's unofficial "First Lady." As such, she has for a long time suspected that Jackie may have been named as a nod to another soon-to-be first lady, Jackie Kennedy.  Jackie married Jack Kennedy in 1953.  This wedding and her escalation on the social scene at the time seemed to usher in a new era of optimism, style, and beauty - much like Steiff's hopes for this bear and its post-war business success.  

To keep the company's anniversary celebration twice as nice, Steiff also produced another special edition.  These were a series of "Nimrod" Teddy bears from 1953 through 1954. The Nimrod bears were all based on the company's early postwar, newly redesigned "Original Teddy" pattern. Overall, four Nimrod bears appeared in Steiff's catalogs. These included a 22 or 50 white version which donned a green cap, an orange felt shirt, and brown boots; a 22 cm gold version which wore a green cap, a brown felt shirt, and brown boots; and a 22 cm caramel version detailed with an orange cap, green scarf, and very tall brown "wader" style boots. All carried wooden rifles suspended from a leather cord. 

Although Jackie and the Nimrod brother bears are early post war anniversary editions, they are not the earliest. In 1947, Steiff produced a blonde, fully jointed 10 cm Teddy bear with a special square shaped tag to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Margarete Steiff. The tag read, "To commemorate the 100th birthday of Margarete Steiff on 24.7.1947." As far as Steiffgal can tell, this 1947 Teddy bear edition may be the earliest Steiff commemorative or anniversary item ever produced on a commercial scale by the company. You can see the 1947 bear here on the left, the photo is from Pfeifer's 1947-2003 Sortiment.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of Ann-Charlotte's Jackie auction find has generated lots of goodwill with you!

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

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