Friday, December 1, 2017

Boys To Men: Three Awesome And Extraordinarily Rare Steiff eBay Finds

Rare beyond compare! That was Steiffgal's thought when looking back at a few really captivating and recent sales on eBay. Shopping on this platform is like going to a giant antique mall or store - you never know what's going to turn up. And once in a blue moon, world class collectibles do indeed make an appearance. Here are three recent WAH-HOO good Steiff items that recently traded hands on this ubiquitous global auction website.

This first fantastic find is the wheel-deal indeed. According to its description, "For your consideration is this rare pull toy Record Boy by Steiff. Plush bean character with felt clothing. He is riding a tricycle and when rolled he moves his torso and heap up and down to action tricycle's propelling lever. Toy has a bellow underneath that produces sound as toy moves. Toy is about 9.5 inches tall by 7.5 inches long by 4.5 inches wide." 
This boy on the go had 4 total bidders, 7 total bids, and sold for $2,150.75.

Does his sale price shock you? It shouldn't, given this character's rarity and cultural status! This item is actually Steiff's Shockheaded Peter doll on a four wheeled cart, from the famous German book of the same name. "Record" refers to these pump and go hand-driven vehicles. This mobile marvel appeared in the Steiff line from 1916 through 1927. Steiff also produced a Shockheaded Peter doll in in 3 sizes ranging from 30 to 43 cm from 1909 though 1927. It is interesting to note that Steiff's Peter dolls had long leather fingernails (like the boy in the book) but this version on a cart does not.  Here on the left you can see a 1916/1917 advertising photo featuring Peter and other "record" friends of the era; the photo is from Cieslik's Button in Ear The History of the Teddy Bear and His Friends. 

Shockheaded Peter is a German folkloric treasure. It is written in distinctive, versed “chapters.” The book debuted in 1845 and was authored by Heinrich Hoffmann, a German psychiatrist who penned the tale for his three year old son as a Christmas gift when he could not find one he liked commercially. Each of the book’s ten tales has a distinct lesson, with the story demonstrating what happens when that lesson is not followed. For example, in story #3, a girl plays with matches and burns to death. The book’s title refers to story #1, where a boy (Peter) does not follow hygienic practices (for example, trimming his fingernails, combing his hair, and bathing) and as a result is an outcast. 

It's no game when it comes to this next auction find - a turn of last century Steiff footballer. He is described in part as, "Rare Antique Steiff Felt Jointed Doll. Doll was handed down from my Great Grandfather 30 - 40 years ago. I have not been able to find another one so that I would be able to describe it. Looks like a rugby player or hobo? Doll is in original condition just like I received it. I believe the inside composition is straw. Clothes show wear and fading in areas. Missing Right Arm. Eyes are glass and the right eye has come unattached but sits in the socket quite well. Leather Boots are very detailed. Top of Boots are split but are still intact with the doll as pics show."

This sports star scored 8 total bidders, 27 total bids, and sold for $1,402.77.

It's a life goal for Steiffgal to add one of these marvelous dolls to her collection! These student athletes were produced in 35, 43, 50, and 60 cm from 1913 through 1920 overall. These were designed to resemble American Ivy League soccer players. Their outfits were available in a variety of different color combinations, including blue for Yale, crimson for Harvard, orange or black for Princeton, and light blue for Columbia. The one under discussion here is probably a Harvard model, given the hue of his sweater. The dolls themselves were playfully configured to have a distinctly youthful, collegiate presentation with their chunky proportions, cherubic faces, and google-style black and white glass eyes. And their outfits reflected the uniform styles of the period; it is interesting to note that their leather shoes had inlaid "treads" on the soles, most likely a nod to early sporting cleats. Here on the left you can see a two early Yale players; the photo is from Cieslik's Button in Ear The History of the Teddy Bear and His Friends. 

Things are going to really heat up with this last Steiff surprise. It is simply noted by the seller as, "This auction is for a vintage Steiff Man figure chimney sweeper. This item is in Very Good condition and is being offered at No Reserve, Final Sale." 

This little fellow caught fire with 9 total bidders, 21 total bids, and sold for $1,276.13.

The lucky winning bidder did indeed hit the sweep-stakes with this petite treat.  This doll, made entirely from felt, is 15 cm tall and was designed to hang from the rear view mirror of a car. His unjointed body and traditional top hat are made from black felt and his charming flesh colored face comes to life with black button eyes and simple hand-painted features. He carries his own to-scale ladder and hand-brush.  This sweep appeared in the line from 1936 through 1943.

Chimney sweeps have a long and interesting history, especially in Europe. It is considered quite auspicious if a bride sees one on her wedding day. And friends often exchange chimney sweep toys and tokens as good luck charms, especially during the winter holidays. Another example of this pre-war Steiff chimney sweep sold for 474 British pounds at an auction at Christies in London in 2010. This roughly translate into about $750 in today's dollars.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on these three very rare Steiff finds has helped to sharpen your treasure hunting skills!

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

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