Saturday, July 11, 2009

Born in the USA (Zone)

Steiffgal's not monkeying around when it comes to Steiff primates! Monkeys have been an important species in the Steiff line for at least a century. And given the number of questions Steiffgal gets about them, it appears that they are as beloved as ever today!

Check out this note from John who writes from New Hampshire:

"Hi Steiff Gal,
I recently came across this piece going through a relative's things - it is 10" tall (sitting position) and appears to be in very good condition.

What can
you tell me about this and any estimate on what it might be worth? Let me know if you need further information."

This cheeky chimp is the well known and popular Jocko. This "lifelike" monkey debuted in 1909; previous to that Steiff monkeys were more cartoonish or humanized, depending on the model. Jocko officially became "Jocko" in 1929; up to then he was simply known as "Schimpanse" or chimpanzee. Over the past 100 years brown Jocko has been produced in 15 sizes, ranging from 10 to 90 cm, at various times from 1909 - 1943, and then again from 1949 - 1990. A white Jocko (with piercing green glass pupil eyes) debuted in 1925. White Jocko was produced in 6 sizes ranging from 10 to 25 cm through 1943, then reappeared post war from 1949 - 1966 in 10, 11, and 15 cm.

Collectors just can't seem to get enough of this adorable ape. Over time, Jocko has appeared as a hand puppet, marionette, tumbling toy, a music box, a small handbag, and even dress
ed as a football player as an exclusive for FAO Schwarz in the early 1970's.

John, the white tag stitched into the seam of the right leg of your Jocko gives solid clues to the date of his manufacture. This tag, known to collectors as the "US Zone Tag", was attached to all Steiff items from 1947 through 1953. This tag is made from thin white cotton or linen material and states: Made in US - Zone Germany. Given all this, it is safe to conclude that your Jocko is an early post World War ll model and was produced between 1949 and 1953, making him between 56 and 60 years old. Perhaps your relative was in the military or took a trip to Europe in the very late 1940's or early 1950's and picked him up then?

The "US Zone Tag" has an interesting story behind it. At the end of WWll, the Allied powers divided Germany west of the Oder-Neisse line into four areas: American, British, French, and Soviet occupational zones. The Americans were responsible for the southern part of Germany, which is where Steiff is located. The forces were tasked at "demilitarizing" Germany, which included shutting down many factories that did, or had the potential to produce items that could be used for combat or aggressive purposes.

When Steiff's very limited postwar production slowly started up again in 1945 - 1946, items could only be sold to the American troops. These restrictions were gradually eased and by 1947 Steiff could sell domestically; by 1949 the company's products were once again available internationally. The "US Zone Tag" insured to the outside world that items produced in Germany were done so in a "civilian" factory and met business and distribution standards set up by the American military government overseeing the occupational zone.

As for the value of this early postwar Jocko... again,
Steiffgal is not an appraiser and strongly believes that something is "worth" what someone else will pay for it. Poor economic times tend to favor buyers over sellers. Additionally, for better or for worse, Jockos appear relatively often on the secondary market. That all being said, Steiffgal has seen similar vintage Jockos recently sell at auction in the $75 - 125 range.

John, Steiffgal hopes this information and "history lesson" tags this collectible as an important part of your relative's legacy!

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