Sunday, March 17, 2019

It's Sofa, So Good When It Comes To Steiff's Unusual Prewar Couch Animals

Steiffgal promises today's blog will be as laid back as possible. That's because we're going to put our feet up and look at a very cool Steiff rabbit who would want it no other way. Check out this lovely honey bunny and see what makes her so interesting from the historical and product development perspectives.

It's sofa, so good when it comes to this Steiff "Couch Rabbit." Rabbit is 11 cm tall and 20 cm wide. She is head jointed, made from white mohair, and solidly stuffed with excelsior. Her ears are lined in tan velvet. She has wonderful, well designed, long, skinny legs and feet; each padless foot has three hand embroidered claws on it. Her oversized head and face come to life with pink and red glass albino eyes, a pink nose, light pink mouth, and traces of her original monofilament whiskers. She left the Steiff factory wearing a silk ribbon and brass bell, and lying on an oval shaped felt mat finished with a ruffled ribbon edge. Couch Rabbit was made in 11 and 13 cm from 1928 through 1930.

The truth is - as far as Steiffgal can tell - is that Steiff made very few versions of these lying pets. It is possible that this design concept emerged as the company was actively pursuing all sorts of "novelty" patterns in the mid-1920s; these included a series of pull and clockwork toys on wheels. The only other documented sofa animal she can find is the company's "Couch Cat." This chill-axing cat was also made in two sizes (10 and 12 cm) and during the 1928 through 1930 time frame. Their names, body positions, and accessories suggest that the company's "couch animals" were designed as decorative items to display on living room furniture like sofas. After all, that's where you find household pets resting comfortably in real life, right? The page from the company's 1929 catalog advertising these sweet treats is here on the left, the photo is from Carsten Esser's Steiff Katalog 1920-1929.

Despite its relative rarity, Couch Rabbit has many details that are typical to the company's rabbits of the period. For example, her childlike appearance, with an oversized head and eyes, exactly mirrors the company's design aesthetic of the late 1920s. Her long, skinny, padless feet and chunky thighs are almost identical in shape and proportion to the company's beloved Record Hase. And her nose and mouth stitching, consisting of a solid triangular outlined nose and a simple cross-style mouth, is also seen on many rabbits of her era. You can see these design elements here on the Record Hase (made in 25 cm from 1926 through 1943) pictured here on the left. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the company's Couch Rabbit has been a restful experience for you.

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

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Prettier Than A Picture!

Picture the next great Steiff mystery! It might involve an unusual shape, size, or color of one of the company's beloved antique rarities. Or, it just might be about... a photograph. Check out this note from Kathryn from New York about this antique family image of her Grandfather and his Teddy bear. How would you frame your response? She shares:

"I’m sending you this beautiful photo of my grandfather who raised me. Unfortunately we do not have the bear anymore. I’m doing an oil painting of this photo and I want to do justice to the Teddy bear in the picture. I think it looks like a Steiff.

The mystery is why is the tag on the right ear instead of the left? It seems to have all the other features of a Steiff. I was hoping for your thoughts on this if you don’t mind.

My grandpa Henry is of German decent and was born in Jersey City in 1899. The photo was taken by a photographer in New York City. I think he is under the age of 10 in the photo so that would give us an idea of the bears age. I would also like to know the color you think it is for the painting. I started to paint it in a beige color with dark brown nose and lips and black eyes which are hard to see from the angle. This is the clearest copy I can get.

I just think this is such a beautiful photo of a child with his beloved Teddy bear.

I’m anxiously looking forward to hearing what you think. Is it some kind of rare thing? Or is it an imitation?

Thank you for your time and knowledge.
Sincerely, Kathryn" 

Ok, let's first focus our attention on the actual photograph. It is Steiffgal's best thinking that the picture was actually "flipped" at some point. This might have happened years ago, during the printing from the negative, or sometime more recent, via an "electronic" step. If you take the mirror image of the photo, the button is clearly in the right place and in the correct ear. And, if you look really, really closely, Steiffgal thinks you can even make out some part of an ear tag, too. You can see both versions of the photograph in the image here - both the "original" and "mirror" image. 

Now for a little color commentary. Given the hue contrasts, appearance, and scale of the bear in the photograph, it is Steiffgal's best thinking that he is most likely a white Steiff bear in the roughly c. 25 to 35 cm range from the c. 1906-1909 timeframe. And why is that?  

(For reference, here on the left we have two white Steiff cubs from about the same era as Henry's; the big boy is 40 cm tall and the little guy is 22 cm tall.) 

1. First, the date is pretty clear given the information provided by Kathryn. The photo is from about 1909. The bear could have been made a few years earlier than that - as early as about 1906, given its presentation. The Schwarz brothers started carrying Steiff in their stores here in America in 1906, and were the first stores to do so. 

2. Now the size. This has to be estimated purely through "back of the envelope" techniques. Today, an "average" 10 year old boy is 55 inches tall or about 140 cm. Henry could have been much taller, or shorter, than this - there is is no way of knowing. But given he was "average," his bear appears to be roughly about 20 to 25% of his height, putting his bear in at c. 28 to 35 cm tall. And although it's impossible to tell with certainty from the antique picture, it appears that Henry's bear may have a horizontally stitched nose - given there is no "prominent" vertical center stitch visible. This also hints that the bear is less than 40 cm tall. 

3.  And last but not least, his color. The bear is pretty much the "lightest" object in the shot. And his nose is not very dark - like Henry's hair or eyes. This suggests the nose is brown - and in turn, that the bear was white. 

Steiffgal hopes this photograph has given you a delightful snapshot of Steiff's enduring quality and appeal.

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

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Taking A Leap Of Faith On This Teeny Tiny Steiff Rabbit

Ok, here's a puzzler for you. How can something so small be such a huge mystery? Well, check out this bitty Steiff bunny pictured here on the left. Do you recognize her? Her origins and purpose are not clear at first glance. It's time to spring down a rabbit hole and see what we can unearth about her.

Size defies when it comes to this petite princess. She measures about 5 cm tall (without ears) and 8 cm wide. She is unjointed, lying, and made of mohair. Her back end and the backs of her ears are silvery-grey, while her front end, face, and tail are white. These fabrics are patched, not airbrushed or colored. Her tiny face comes to life with black button eyes and a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth. She
 is solidly stuffed with excelsior. Her Steiff IDs include a long trailing "f" button and traces of her red ear tag. 

Now it's time for a little leap - of faith - in terms of rabbit's identification. Given her appearance, construction, and IDs, it is Steiffgal's best guess that she is the smallest (or almost smallest) version of a lying rabbit simply called "Hase." Hase is pictured above, the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment. Hase was officially produced in 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 cm from 1923-1928 overall in white and brown or white and black. With Steiff, it has been Steiffgal's experience that measurements are seldom "absolute" and can range sometimes as much as +/- 20%. The smaller sized versions of any given Steiff pattern sometimes look a little "simpler" than their larger sized relatives. And vintage brown mohair can oxidize or fade to a silvery color. So those "facts" may explain the coloring and presentation differences between the bitty bunny under discussion today from the "reference" Hase rabbits pictured in the Sortiment book.

But its possible to spin her tail a bit more. In the 1920s, Steiff focused on producing a great number of playful novelties as pull toys on wheels. These included pairs of animals on see-sawing "wiwag" carts, pairs of forward and backward moving animals on "galop" carts, and pairs of spinning animals on "roly droly" carts, among others. The animals featured on these carts for the most part were the smallest versions of standard line animals, like bears, monkeys, and dogs. In 1924 through 1934, Steiff produced a roly droly featuring a chick and a rabbit. And in 1926 through 1934, they made a roly droly featuring two tiny rabbits. If you look at these two photos - pictured here on the left - you can see that the rabbits look almost identical to the rabbit under discussion. Both photos are from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment. For reference, the chick pictured is 8 cm. It is quite possible that this tiny rabbit at one time was a passenger on a spring-themed Steiff roly droly! 

Steiffgal hopes that today's discussion on this tiny rabbit has brought a big smile to your face.

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

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Having A Ball With This Charming and Early Steiff Woolen Miniature Rooster

Top of the 'morning to you! A rooster's call welcomes the new day. And this little rooster under discussion here is certain to MAKE your day! Check out this happy pre-war handful and see what makes him so delightful from the design and product development perspectives.

Bird's the word with this well-rounded woolen miniature rooster. He is head jointed and measures about 3.75 inches (or 9.5 cm) tall, including his comb, and about 4 inches (or about 10 cm) wide, including his tail. His body is made from green, yellow, tan, brown, blue, and yellow Nomotta wool threads. His two front pom pom "legs" are made from yellow Nomotta wool threads. His tail is made from green felt, while his comb is made from red felt. His happy, smiling beak is made from yellow felt. He has playful, black and white google style glass eyes. Rooster retains his short trailing "f" style button and bits of his yellow tag as his Steiff IDs on his tail feathers. This item was produced in this size (9 cm) from 1938-1942.  

Other similarly ball shaped barnyard bird buddies of rooster's era include an 8 cm duck produced from 1936-1941, an 8 cm chick produced from 1936-1941, and a 9 cm hen produced from 1938-1941. These birds are featured in the photo on the left in the top row. This image is from Steiff's 1938/1939 catalog. You can click on the catalog page to make it bigger. Which is your favorite? 

This woolen miniature rooster has article number "3509." This code translates to 3=sitting, 5=lamb's wool or wool plush, and 09= 9 cm. The 5 is somewhat confusing as it does not specifically call out the "yarn" characteristics of rooster's material. However, almost all of Steiff's prewar woolen miniatures have a 5 as their second article number digit, so it appears that the "5" does incorporate the Nomotta wool category. 

Rooster is also noted on the catalog page as weighing 15 grams. Steiffgal decided to fact check that by weighing her example... and indeed he does!

Woolen miniatures were an important part of the Steiff pre-war line from the early 1930's through the early 1940's. Birds and other pets - like rabbits, cats, dogs, and bugs - were well represented in the product mix. They were appealing, inexpensive to produce and purchase, addictively collectible, and marvelous companions for larger dolls, bears, and other animal friends. Despite their petite proportions, each had a distinct personality and a timeless charm. This probably explains why they are so adored, and collected, by enthusiasts today - nearly 90 years after their introduction! 

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on this fine feathered friend has been a ball for you!

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Hungry For More Information On This Carrot Toting Steiff Rabbit

Please lend your ears to this 14 carrot gold inquiry! Rabbits are among the most popular Steiff designs, and have been since the company started producing them in the late 19th century. Their ties to Easter, fertility, and rebirth go back centuries. Check out this question from Patrick, who asks about one of his Steiff happy-hoppers. Are you familiar with his rarity? He shares...

I am from Luxembourg, but living in Germany. I own a big collection of Steiff animals, about 1,500 pieces. About one of them I don´t know really anything. So I hope, you, as an expert, can perhaps help me. It is the bunny, which you can see in the photos. He does not have tags and is 40 cm to the tips of his ears. I bought it from a Steiff-Seller 10 years ago! Even if Easter has not yet come, I hope you can tell me something about this beautiful bunny bringing his carrots (one in his paws and one in a pocket on his back) with.
Sincerely yours,

Talk about a cheerful earful! What Patrick has here is is known as the "Carrot Rabbit" or "Sunny the Bunny." This rarity was produced as a special edition for the department store Macy's here in the United States. This item was made in 9, 12, 17, and 30 cm in the 1950-1956 time frame. The 30 cm version was also made with a music box in 1954-1955. Although this particular rabbit has lost his IDs to time, it is interesting to note that he retains his cloth "Made in the US Zone" tag, suggesting that he was made at the very beginning of his production timeline. Since for the most part Steiff rabbits are measured without their ears (just vertically from the top of the head to the feet) Steiffgal suspects that Patrick's Sunny is the largest size at 30 cm. 

Steiffgal can't think of any other Steiff special editions made for Macy's, so his distribution channel and origins are quite unique! After World War II, Steiff worked with two rep firms here in the United State, the Loucap Company and Reeves International. It is most probable that Macy's worked with one of these New York based companies to bring this Carrot Rabbit to market. 

There are several delightful features about this Carrot Rabbit. First, of course, is the fact that he comes with two felt carrots, one in his "back pocket" and one in his hands. They are detailed with felt greens and airbrushing. Steiff has a long tradition of creating toys in felt, so this is a delightful nod to the company's legacy. Rabbit's fantastic, tri-colored glass eyes give him such personality and a "high end product" look. And his well defined, oversized legs and feet keep him well balanced in an upright, sitting position. Although he shares a few similar characteristics with the company's fully jointed Niki rabbit pattern of the same era (produced in 14, 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm from 1951-1964 overall), his construction, scale, and and facial detailing put him on a close, but not identical, branch on the Steiff product development tree.

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on Patrick's Carrot Rabbit has brought a spring to your step today.

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

Friday, February 8, 2019

Getting A Leg Up On This Midcentury Steiff Mystery!

This inquiry from a new friend is simply ele-phantastic! Kati has something very special in her collection, but one that so far has defied identification.  Let's take a look at her note and use our grey matter to figure out what this mystery item just might be! 

Kati shares,

"I have a very unusual Steiff that I am having a hard time identifying. Not sure if you can point me in the right direction. I am not in anyway wanting an appraisal but just a little bit more information on the piece. I have searched EVERYWHERE and have not been able to come up with anything. 

It is an elephant with a Steiff tag and he has extremely long legs. The number on his tag is 7330. He measures 12.5” inches tall and 12” from trunk to tail. His legs alone are 7.5” tall. He has wood tusks and a red felt bib/collar. 

I am hoping you either know a little about him or can point me in the direction to a site or someone who might. Thanks for your time!"

There's no junk in the trunk when it comes to this absolute rarity. What we have here is Steiff's wonderful and seldom seen Lulac elephant. He is as Kati describes above; his delightful details include a jointed head; a smiling, open, felt lined mouth; and playful black and white google eyes. His upturned trunk is a sign of good luck, too. "Lulac" refers to his goofy, exaggerated form consisting of really long arms and legs. Other Lulac style animals produced at or around the same period include a Zotty bear, rabbit, Cocker Spaniel, donkey, zebra, tiger, lion, and poodle. This particular Lulac elephant was made as an exclusive for the United States market in this size only in 1958.

If you look hard enough, you can find jumbo clues about a Steiff treasure by examining its small details. In this case, check out what Kati says about his ear tag. The code on it reads 7730. According to Steiff reference materials, this corresponds to... 7 = in caricature, 3 = mohair, and 30 = 30 cm tall. But these numbers don't shed any light on how unusual this pattern truly is. To put things in context, the only other example Steiffgal has even come across was one at auction in 2010 at Christies. You can see that auction listing by clicking here.

Now for that "elephant in the room" question that everyone undoubtedly has on their minds about now. How does this great item value in today's marketplace? As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiffgal has not seen the item firsthand to inspect for condition. Many critical condition items, like dry rot, odors, insect damage, etc., do not show up on photos, and that's why it is essential to see an item firsthand to give it a fair review. Given the Lulac elephant is as described and as presented, with no essential structural or aesthetic issues, it is Steiffgal's best guess sight unseen that this item may sell on an online channel or auction in the c. $1,000-2,000 range.

Steiffgal hopes that you found this discussion on Kati's elephant absolutely unforgettable.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

And The Blue Ribbon For The Most Unusual Steiff Bully the Bulldog Goes To...

Are you looking for blues clues about a most unusual Steiff treasure? Then check out this fabulous - and fabulously rare - example of Steiff's beloved prewar Bully the Bulldog. There's no doubt he'd be top dog in anyone's Steiff canine kennel!

The sky's the limit with this outstanding blue and white Bully. He's sitting, head jointed, and made from velvet. His blue has oxidized to more of a green color since his "birthday" nine decades ago. You see this often with vintage materials and dye colors. (Check out where the sun doesn't shine - like armpits and crotches - to find areas untouched by time.) Like the Bully dogs of his era, he has large, metal lined, and poseable ears and patched construction. His face comes to life with oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, a hand embroidered nose, a few freckles, and an elaborately constructed and very detailed muzzle. Blue Bully retains his original horsehair collar and bell, as well as his long trailing "f" button as his ID. This bouncing bundle of joy was produced in 7, 10, 14, and 17 cm from 1927 through 1934 - and is only the second blue Bully Steiffgal has ever seen!

It is interesting to note that in the late 1920s through early 1930s, Steiff produced a number of animal and novelty patterns in fun, "jellybean" hues - both in mohair and velvet. These included rabbits, bears, dogs, pincushions, and other favorites. It is Steiffgal's best guess that these colorful critters were designed to match the mood and aesthetic of the "roaring 20s" and were produced not only as toys for children but as gifts and collectibles for adults. 

Small, unusually hued, prewar Steiff rarities with IDs and accessories like this only surface once in a blue moon - and always generate lots of dollars, and interest, at auction. For example, in 2016, an 8 cm version generated 12 bids and hammered at €2,400 (roughly $2,800) on its €330 - €660 (roughly $376 - $750) estimate. And why is that? Like most marketplace or economic situations, it has to do with supply and demand. For example, consider....

  • Petitely proportioned items are/were often a child's "best friend" and as such, were loved to death as playthings, or lost to time. So there are not alot of them in general still around. 
  • These small treasures span several collecting categories, including general antiques, Christmas items, dollhouse items, dolls, and Steiff. So many people are interested in them. 
  • They don't take up too much space in a collection.  So they are very desirable from the collection management and logistics perspectives, especially amongst more "seasoned" collectors. 
  • And they are simply just plain wonderful. Collectors seldom if ever tire of them, and very rarely sell them unless they absolutely have to.
Steiffgal hopes you've enjoyed learning about this blue ribbon beauty.

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

Monday, January 21, 2019

Horsing Around With This Charming Mare Pair

Are you ready for another Steiff mane event? Well, this one's twice as nice, as it features a pair of ponies! Check out this note from Steiff superfan Tom about his wife's childhood friends. He shares...

"Hi! I am hoping to find out about these two 7" horses. They were my wife's when she was a child, and if they are worth insuring, we would like to know. Also, when they were made, if they have an "item #" and description. Thank you!"

Well, its off to the races with these fine fillies. These both are Steiff ponies made exclusively for the high end North American toy retailer F.A.O. Schwarz. They are standing, unjointed, and made from tan mohair that is airbrushed with lovely chestnut highlights. Their manes and tails are made from very long greyish white mohair. Their faces are detailed with black button eyes and a little hand stitched and airbrushed mouth. Overall, this design is extremely realistic, appealing, and playful - all at the same time! 

In terms of history, this pony pattern was produced from 1963 through 1972 in this size only. Its article number is 3759/02. According to the original F.A.O. Schwarz catalog, this horse was 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 F.A.O. 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.” As noted in the cataloging, these horses all left the factory in Giengen with lovely, to-scale fittings; from the photo Tom provided it appears that several of these items have been lost to time. The picture on the left, from Steiffgal's collection, shows this pony with all of her original accessories, including tiny stirrups.

Tom is also chomping at the bit to learn the value of these horses. As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiffgal has not seen these horses firsthand to check for condition. They are lovely, but have some key issues - including missing accessories and IDs and light playwear. In the past two years, complete F.A.O Schwarz horses in very good to excellent condition with all IDs have sold in the c. $118-$495 range on eBay. It would be Steiffgal's best guessimate that "Tom's twins" might trade hands on a similar online channel in the c. $75-$120 range each. This assumes that they are as presented without any significant structural or aesthetic issues not captured on camera.

Steiffgal hopes you've enjoyed today's equine stable fable!

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Vectis Auctions' Upcoming January 2019 Doll & Teddy Bear Sale To Offer Lots Of Steiff Temptations

Temptations, temptations... as Steiff collectors, we all are excited to learn about interesting sales and opportunities on the horizon. So Steiffgal was delighted to hear from her colleague Joanne McDonald at Vectis Auctions about an upcoming event featuring fantastic vintage Steiff selections. The company's Doll & Teddy Bear Sale will be held on January 29, 2019 starting at 10:30 AM GMT at the Vectis galleries, located in Stockton on Tees in the United Kingdom. Here are three outstanding Steiff lots from that sale that really caught Steiffgal's eye - and why. 

There's no horsing around that this first pick, lot #4616, is one of the mane events of this toy auction. It's a rare, antique Steiff horse on early metal wheels, estimated at £300 - £500 ($385 - $642.) It is cataloged as:

"Steiff vintage rare Muster (sample) horse on wheels, German, circa 1907 (produced from 1907-1920), Art No 1359, with rare Muster button to left ear (also has remains of white fabric tag behind button), Steiff button is missing, cinnamon and white mohair, black boot button eyes, black velveteen inner ears, inserted black cotton mane, tail is missing, upon metal chassis with connecting frame, original cord is still attached to frame (faded), four six-spoked metal wheels, curb bit with long metal shank (inserted within horse's closed mouth), curb chain, bridle is missing, leather saddle with tooled edging, leather girth, stirrups with leathers, crupper, red felt saddle cloth with gold embroidered edge (felt is holed, particularly under the seat of the saddle where a piece is missing), white felt surcingle, mohair is worn and faded / discoloured with some areas of balding overall, muzzle is holed to front, left ear has hole, Fair Plus to Good, 19.75"/50cm. NB: Steiff "Muster" button was used by the company on sample pieces- defining the piece to be a 'sample.'"

Collectors are certain to jockey for position over this eye-catching and unusual example. The size is perfect - not too big, not too small - and won't take up alot of room... which is a issue with many items on wheels. He has an authentic, early presentation and would look would look charming posed alone, or even better, with doll or Teddy riders on his back. It is great that he still retains his accessories, including his stirrups, saddle, blanket, and reins. And buttoning things up here, his seldom seen and desirable "muster" button is the frosting on the cake. It is Steiffgal's understanding that Steiff used the "muster" button pre-WWII on items considered samples, evolving designs, prototypes, or the "gold standard" for production. In general, the button indicated that the item was Steiff property and was not intended for sale or distribution. "Muster" translates loosely from German to English as "template" and in a sense, these "muster" items were just that.  

There's no grey area when it comes to this next auction highlight. It is lot #4621, a Steiff vintage rare Purzel or somersaulting elephant, estimated at £1,000 - £1,500 ($1,285 - $1,927.) It is cataloged as:

"Steiff vintage rare Purzel (somersault) elephant, German, Art No 9323, 1909-1910, button with underscored "f" and remains of white paper tag, grey mohair, black boot button eyes, felt tusks, fully jointed, black toe stitching, mohair and felt tusks a little discoloured, slight bald patch to left forehead, tip of trunk and left hind leg, mechanism is free and partially engaging but does not operate, otherwise Excellent, 12.75"/32cm. NB: The elephant is the rarest of all Steiff tumbling animals- only appearing in the catalogue for two years."

This great tumbler is truly ele-fantastic.  His design itself is really appealing, but his clockwork feature would make any enthusiast go head over heels over him. Steiff's tumblers are all time collector's favorites, and seldom appear on the secondary market. These somersaulting sweeties are activated by an internal clockwork mechanism and literally do somersaults when their arms are wound up. Steiff "purzel" production included bears, monkeys, elephants, and a few doll models, including Eskimos and clowns. For context, in 2016, a similar one changed hands at auction in the USA at $3,300 (£2,568).

And this last auction highlight is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Check out lot #4622 a rare vintage Steiff Jocko monkey, estimated at £700 - £900 ($900 - $1,156.) It is cataloged as:

"Steiff vintage rare Jocko monkey, German, c 1930, uppercase letters with underscored "f" button (with remains of white tag behind), ginger* mohair, brown and black glass eyes, felt inset face, cream mohair chin, felt ears, hands and feet, fully jointed, slight discolouration / wear to mohair and felt, small hole to felt left cheek, left little felt finger is holed, mohair thinning to right cheek and torso (inoperative press squeaker), otherwise Good Plus to Excellent, 11"/28cm. NB: *This is not a standard Steiff line item and is highly desirable in this colour."

This spicy guy is a ginger prince indeed. Unlike Steiff's regular line Jocko monkeys, which were produced in brown or white mohair, this fantastic rarity was manufactured in an almost orange colored mohair. It is easy to think that he "faded" or "oxidized" to this color, or was somehow treated to produce this color, but indeed he was "born this way." Prewar, Steiff sometimes produced standard line items in small quantities in "un-standard" materials for a few reasons. These include 1) using materials on hand to make an item when its regular materials were not available, 2) testing a new fabric on a standard item to see if it was appealing or made sense from the monetary or product line extension perspectives, and 3) fulfilling an order for a window display, customer special request, or other business purpose. Steiffgal knows of two other 1930-era gloriously hued Jockos like this one, and in both cases, they are considered collection "royalty" by their owners.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Vectis' upcoming sale has given you "lots" to think about. Please check out the company's website at to learn more and to see the auction's 650+ wonderful toy treats firsthand. 

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

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Snips and Snails And Puppy Dog Tails - Steiff Style!

Oh boy! Look what we have here... a delightful dolly inquiry from far away! Check out this note from a new friend about her lovely little fellow. Just who could he be? Adriana writes...

"I mail you from Netherlands. I have this beautiful doll and would like to know more about age and price. All the information you could give me would be very welcome. How old is my piece? What is some of the history around my piece? Is my piece really a Steiff? I would like to thank you for your efforts and wish you a nice day."

Let's button up what we know, and what we don't, about this beautiful boy. For sure, he is made by Steiff, given his general presentation, center seamed felt face, and Steiff button (which can be seen in a photo that does not appear in this blog post.) However, because it is Steiffgal's best thinking that some of his clothing is original to him, and some is not, his EXACT identify is more questionable. Having handled a number of first quarter 20th century Steiff boy dolls, Steiffgal suspects that his socks, pants, and shirt are most likely original to him, while his vest, hat, and necktie, are not. 

As it turns out, Steiffgal has an all original boy doll in her collection who is wearing a very similar shirt, pants, and socks as Adriana's little love. As such, it is possible that they are the same model, although it is not clear from the photos just how tall Adriana's boy is. Steiffgal's doll is 28 cm. This boy doll's name is Harry, and according to Steiff records, he was made from 1908 through 1925 in 28, 35, 43, 50, and 60 cm. Harry is made entirely from felt, is fully jointed with truly human proportions, and has a short, blond mohair wig. He is described as "felt, jointed, Dutch fisherman, original costume." By "original costume" Steiff means that the dolls are dressed in apparel that is traditional to a country - in this case, the Netherlands. You can see Steiffgal's Harry here on the left. Check out his original felt clogs and silk neckerchief.

One thing that is a little different between Adriana's doll and Steiffgal's doll is their age. And you can detect that through a simple, but subtle difference between the two. Steiffgal's doll has black shoebutton eyes, dating him at the earliest part of the production run, say around 1908 to 1910. Adriana's doll has stunning blue and black glass pupil eyes, dating him from roughly 1911 onward. Here on the left you can see Steiffgal's Harry posing with his lifelong friend Alida, a sweet Dutch girl who also sports fine felt clogs. Given her blue and black glass pupil eyes, it is safe to say she's a handful of years younger than handsome Harry.

Adriana also asked about the possible "value" of her doll. As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiffgal has not handled this doll in person to fully view and access its condition. What is clear is that he does have a little damage to his face, and that his clothing is not entirely original to him. After doing a little research on current auction sales of antique Steiff dolls in somewhat similar condition, it appears that an example like this could trade hands in the $800-1,200 range.

Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed learning about Adriana's mystery man!

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