Sunday, December 5, 2021

Going Green With This Seasonally Hued Steiff Sweetie

"Tis the season for all things green and red!
As such, the timing is perfect to share a recent addition to Steiffgal's hug with you. 
This seasonally hued sweetie is a bit of a mystery but so charming nonetheless. He was on Steiffgal's wish list for awhile given his rarity and somewhat ephemeral construction. Check out this darling doll and see what makes him the perfect 1970s-era ambassador.  

Here we have Steiff's little known "Buzzel Sepp." 
In Germany, "Sepp" is a nickname for someone with the formal name of Joseph. And "Buzzel" refers to his shape and construction. But more about that in just a bit. In all honesty, Steiffgal is not exactly certain who this guy is or who he may represent. He is not obviously a chimney sweep, farmer, or gnome - Steiff's usual cast of male doll suspects. Perhaps he is a shepherd, as he is pictured with a red plastic staff in some reference books. Unfortunately, Steiffgal's Sepp has lost this accessory. 

Buzzel Sepp is upright and unjointed.
It is not clear if he is standing or sitting as he has no legs. His simple body is made from bright green and white mohair. He rests on a flat bottom. His head is made from a synthetic - probably polyester - fabric. His face comes to life with blue semi-circle felt eyes, a tan circular felt nose, and a long, brown fiber mustache. He is accessorized with a red felt scarf and a green felt hat. His hat has a little daisy on it for decoration. Buzzel Sepp has a working squeaker in his base. This silly guy appeared in the line in this size only from 1972-1974.

It is interesting to note that he is noted in the 1947-2003 Steiff Sortiment as made from dralon but he is clearly made from mohair - at least in this case.

Buzzel Sepp has some distinctive IDs.
His chest tag is Steiff's red and yellow split style version. This chest tag debuted in 1972, aligning perfectly with Sepp's production date. On the back of this tag, it is noted that Sepp cost 19.90 marks. Given that $1 = DM 3.48 in 1972, this would have been about $5.72 in 1972 dollars; $5.72 in 1972 is worth approximately $37.85 in 2021. This doll also has a silver hangtag with the word "formgeschaumt" or "foam molded" on it. That refers to his pre-formed foam stuffing. And because he does not have any ears, his ear tag is located on the seam of his bottom with his lentil style Steiff button embedded into it. You can see this somewhat unusual configuration here on the left.

Steiff's Buzzel items appeared in the line in 1970s.
They were all 20 cm, sat upon a flat bottom, had a squeaker, were stuffed with pre-formed foam, and washable. Other Buzzel models created included a rooster, a rabbit, a cat, and a Santa Claus, among others. These items - except for Sepp and Santa - were simplified versions of popular Steiff designs. Steiffgal suspects the Buzzels were created specifically as less expensive and/or lower end toy line for children given how the word "washable" featured so prominently in their marketing. And, in Steiff's 1972 product catalog, their Buzzel line is noted as, "foam-molded, therefore super soft, really to love for the very little ones." You can see Sepp and his other Buzzel friends as they appeared in this vintage catalog here on the left. Just click on the image to make it bigger. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's quirky Sepp doll has added a joyful buzz to your day.

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

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Good Things Come In Threes At Teddy Dorado's December 4th, 2021 Sales Event!

Care to go for the gold? Then check out the upcoming Steiff auction presented by our friends at Teddy Dorado auction house! Their signature winter sale, to be held on December 4th, 2021, features more than 400 new, vintage, and antique button-in-ear temptations - with new goodies being listed regularly. Here are three outstanding lots that caught Steiffgal's eye - and why. 

The first lot is a sweet-tweet-treat indeed.
Steiff's earliest prewar woolen miniatures are loved and collected universally - with the rarest ones frequently realizing four figures at auction. Its hard to resist lot #28-4023, which is cataloged as, "Songbird made of white & pink Nomotta wool; black glass eyes; Beak made of skin-colored felt; white felt tail with pink stripes on both sides; Metal legs painted yellow & in perfect condition; Head rotatable & body tillable; approx. 4 mm large FF button slightly rusted, but not visible to the naked eye; red Steiff flag preserved in the best possible way; very clean, absolutely lightfast, odorless & completely unplayed; Premium top condition. approx. 4 cm high." 

This pretty-in-pink treasure has an opening bid of 1,000 Euro.

Bird's the word with this lovely treasure which is fantastic on so many levels. It is amongst the absolute earliest woolen miniatures ever made. This sweet bird design debuted in 1931, the first year Steiff's woolen miniatures were produced on a commercial scale. It was manufactured in six color combinations in 4 or 8 cm. Don't you think his color - pink - is WAH-HOO good? This example is the only Steiff woolen miniature prewar bird that Steiffgal knowns of featuring this great and novel hue. And the condition looks to be as close to like-new as humanly possible. 

You'll be all ears over this next auction highlight.
His expression, era, and materials are all so ele-phantastic. He is lot #28-4021, and is cataloged as, "Play elephant, made of light gray rayon plush; black glass eyes underlaid with pink felt; open mouth made of skin-colored felt; Tail tip made of mohair; tightly stuffed with wood wool; large double pressure voice defective; Saddle pad made of red, yellow & dark green felt; approx. 6 mm large, bright silver, shiny & shiny button in the ear; white paper ear tag missing; Artificial silk plush & felt without annoying flaws; very clean, absolutely lightfast, odorless & unplayed; Top condition approx. 21 cm high & without tail approx. 27 cm long." 

This playful pachyderm has an opening bid of 200 Euro. 

It's interesting to note that this distinctive elephant's "birthdate" is not specified. This great design bridged the pre- and postwar periods. It was produced in artificial silk plush in 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1938 through 1943 overall, and postwar in 22 cm only in 1948 though 1949. Given this big baby has a blank button and traces of his yellow ear tag, it is a safe bet that he is a postwar version. He's unforgettable for sure, don't you agree?

And good things come in threes with this final auction highlight.
Steiff ephemera - catalogs, photographs, sales sheets, postcards, and other paper items associated with the company - is a fun, educational, and visually exciting complement to a button-in-ear collection of any era. If you are interested in the company's 1920s era production and aesthetic, be sure to check out lot #28-4003, which is cataloged as, "Customer brochure "The good toy" A6 +, 36 pp. 1925–1926 without Steiff printed matter no. German Premium Steiff customer brochure "The good toy" for Germany in the format approx. A6 plus landscape with 36 pages; inside black and white with a light green border; Text in German & without prices; Title shows Schlopsnies doll Theo with two yellow mohair (pulling) ducks, each lying on eccentric wheels; without printer's note or Steiff printed matter no .; original Steiff brochure & no reprint; very clean, absolutely lightfast, odorless & completely unread; Premium top condition." 

This time capsule quality brochure has an opening bid of 100 Euro. 

It's hard to picture a more interesting collection of images than those that appear in this great catalog. It features illustrations of the company's very rare mid-1920s white chimp with a tail, little known wooden toys on wheels, and charming, lifelike, and toddler-esque Schlopsnies dolls, among many other outstanding characters. And what makes these visuals so heartwarming is that they show our favorite button-in-ear favorites in playful and interactive vignettes... as if they were truly alive! Flipping through this period catalog is like taking a trip back in time, in the best possible way.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on some of Teddy Dorado's upcoming sale highlights has been almost exciting as a live auction event!  Check out the entire catalog for this December 4th sale by clicking here. 

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

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Hans Down, This Prewar Steiff Teddy Bear Has Amazing ID!

This Steiff blog entry is designed to test your "metal" in the most interesting way possible. Check out this delightful and purely period prewar Steiff Ted that Steiffgal has named Hans. He recently joined Steiffgal's hug and previously belonged to a Canadian collector. Can you believe he's close to 90 years old? Indeed, he does check out in every way as a late prewar cub... with a very special and little known detail that helps to narrow down his dating. But more about that in just a bit.

This little love of a cub is a wonderful time capsule of Steiff's mid-1930s to mid-1940s Teddy bear design directives. In terms of his physical properties, Hans stands at 10 inches/25 cm tall and is made from yellow-blonde mohair. He has a back hump, but it is less pronounced than the company's earlier bear editions. He is fully jointed and has both felt hand and foot pads. Each pad is detailed with four black claws. His feet are long and narrow, and his wrists turn slightly upward. Hans' face comes alive with proportional black and brown glass pupil eyes, an unshaven muzzle, and a black hand embroidered nose and mouth. Hans' side-squeeze squeaker works, once in a while.

Hans also has a few "intangible" properties that tie him to the late prewar period. 
He has a very distinctive long, lean, and somewhat "pensive" appearance. He's a "no nonsense" Ted indeed. This "look and feel" is often seen on Steiff's prewar bear production from the early 1930s onward. It is possible that bears created at this time reflected the feelings of the seamstresses making them, as the 1930s and 1940s were very stressful decades in Germany due to challenging and ongoing social, political, and economic realities. In contrast, consider Steiff's early postwar bear production - from the early 1950s onward. Newly introduced midcentury patterns like Zotty and Jackie and the company's re-engineered "Original Teddy Bears" are noted for their jolly faces, rotund bodies, and playful personalities.

Perhaps the most concrete metric in terms of dating Hans is his unexpected branding. He sports an unusual BRASS colored Steiff button. It is the short trailing "f" style and 6 mm in diameter. This button appeared on a few items from 1933/34 through 1943. He also has traces of his yellow linen ear tag, but the information on it is not legible. The yellow tag was introduced around 1934, which suggests Hans' birth year falls roughly between 1934 and 1943. This is one of a handful of times Steiffgal has ever seen this brass button, and Hans is only the second item in her collection of antique Steiff treasures bearing this distinctive trademark. Most of the time, for items produced in the mid 1930's through early 1940's time frame, Steiff used a silver colored short trailing "f" button. It is possible that Steiff substituted brass buttons for silver colored ones during this time for economic or supply chain reasons, but Steiffgal does not know for certain. Whatever the reason, finding items like Hans with this late prewar branding is a rare and wonderful experience for sure!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the company's rarer prewar brass buttons has brought the topic full circle for you.

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

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Bow-Wow Beauties Coming Up For Auction Soon!

Dog-gonnit! The blue ribbon temptations are endless at the Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH Special Steiff Auction on November 6th! This can't miss event features over 350 simply awesome button-in-ear goodies. The catalog reads like a "who's who" in the vintage Steiff world. Steiffgal recently offered her top Teddy Baby and "one-derfuls" top picks from this sale; now here are her canine cutie favorites.
This first pick is the wheel deal indeed.
This is lot #4179, a standing Bully the Bulldog on wheels. The cataloging reads, "Bully, on excenter-wheels, black/beige mohair, velvet insert in very good condition, very nice colouring at the snout, with button, long stretched F, minimally rests of the white color, with paper breast sign with metal edge, produced around 1930, length: 23 cm, height: 22 cm, very expressive, except of minimally places mohair in very good condition, original ruff." He carries a presale estimate of €220 to €440.

Steiffgal can't imagine that there is a collector out there who doesn't just love Steiff's legacy Bully pattern. This particular item was produced in 10, 14, 17, and 22 cm from 1927-1935 overall. This guy is the best of all worlds. His condition looks lovely. He is standing - not sitting - and the standing ones are generally seen far less often on the secondary market. He has his original horsehair ruff, and these tend to fall apart or get lost to time. He has his button AND metal rimmed tag. And, like you needed any more reason to love him - he's on wiggly eccentric wheels. This guy is the package indeed. Hubba hubba hubba. 

Steiffgal's next pick is a bit of a "sett-up", but more about that in just a bit.
 This fave is lot #4036 and is cataloged as "
dachshund, with button, rests of the yellow cloth tag label, pull voice, faulty, full mohair, slightly faded, lenght: 53 cm, glass eyes." His presale estimate is €160 to €320. 

What's not to love about this pretty pooch? But here's a little secret. It is Steiffgal's best guess, given his color, mohair detailing, presentation, and long legs, that he is actually the company's much rarer pre-war Setter. Setter was made in 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm from 1933-1940 overall; he was also made on wheels in 35, 43, and 50 cm from 1933-1941 overall. You can see the wheeled version pictured here on the left; the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment. See the resemblance? Given the one in the sale noted at 53 cm and has a pull voice, it is very possible that he started out life as a riding animal on wooden wheels. A quick check on the condition of his paw pads would solve that mystery, but that is not possible right now. Steiffgal has never personally handled a prewar Steiff Setter; they so seldom appear on the secondary market.

And now let's raise a glass to today's final prize pup pick.
Here we have lot #4024, a standing Cheerio. He is cataloged as, "Cheerio, date of production 1928-1932, mohair-plush, standing, idealized model of a laughing dog, svivel head , inset eyes, opened snout with tongue, standing height 16 cm, mohair good, minimally faded, rare, minimally mohair loss around the eyes, 1 claw is loose, without button, chest label and cloth tag label." He has a presale estimate of €160 to €320.

Blink and you would have missed Cheerio's time in the Steiff product line.
This happy go lucky pooch was inspired by the likeness of Bonzo, who was a popular cartoon character at the time. Steiff was not able to win the license to produce Bonzo, so they designed "Cheerio, the Laughing Puppy" instead. Cheerio's mouth design - open, smiling, and with a prominent tongue - is most unusual in the prewar era. Cheerio was made in a variety of sitting, standing and novelty editions from 1928-1931. You can see the sitting and begging versions as they appeared in a late 1920s catalog here on the left. Cheerio dogs are so rare on the secondary market, probably because folks who have one just love them and don't want to part with them! This example is not pristine, but its rarity, legacy, and presentation still make it incredibly desirable from the collector's perspective. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on top dog auction picks has been tail-wagging good for you!

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