Saturday, February 27, 2010

This Great Steiff Find is Certain To Bug You

Everyone has one. That elusive, hard-to-find Steiff item that tops a collector's wish list for years. For some Steiff enthusiasts, it may be a classic vintage piece - like a 1920's Treff dog or a tiny Teddy baby. For others, it may be one of Steiff's "One-derfuls"; items like Siamy the Siamese cat or Zotty Zolac that were only in the Steiff catalog for a year or two. Others may quest for more recent oddities like the Steiff octopus or alpaca Teddytaur.

Steiffgal, it is, or was... a fuzzy caterpillar pull toy. Before you "roll" your eyes and accuse Steiffgal of bugging you, take a look at this "foot loose and fancy free" Steiff plaything that she recently welcomed into her collection after a 10 year search!

What we h
ave here is what Steiff calls Nachziehraupe or Pull Toy Caterpillar. That's a mouthful, so let's just call her "Pilla" for short. Pilla is 43 cm and made primarily from black, green, and gold colored knitted fur. Her face is very simple and basically consists of two side patches of tan nylon material, each with a hand painted black and white eye on it. She doesn't have a mouth or a nose. She has two black "antenna" on the top of her head that are made from long black acrylic fibers. She doesn't have a Steiff button in ear, but she does have a yellow earflag stitched in one of her head seams. This colorful caterpillar rocks and rolls (literally) on four pairs of large off-center red wooden rollers; each wheel is about the size of a golf ball. She had a pull string attached to her front roller when she left the factory in Giengen. Pilla was produced from 1980 through 1983.

Steiff has made some interesting insects over time, including a fly, a spider, and a butterfly, but Steiffgal simply could not find anything remotely like Pilla in the Steiff catalog... and that's why she just had to have her for her collection.

One of the things that makes Pilla so interesting - besides her psychedelic looks - is her wheel structure. When you pull Pilla along - she doesn't just glide - she moves up and down, much like a real caterpillar does in nature. This type of movement in Steiff terms is called "eccentric wheels" and has been incorporated purposefully into Steiff product design for almost 100 years. Steiff actually owns a patent on this mechanism! The way it works on rolling toys is that the wheels are aligned slightly off center or on a bent axle, causing them to move up and down slightly when rotated. "Eccentric wheels" were "invented" accidentally, but Steiff quickly realized the opportunity created by their roller drilling mistakes. The company launched their "eccentric wheel" toys in 1912 with this advertisement:

"This waddling felt duck with brightly colored fathers is fixed onto solidly built, eccentric wooden wheels, which provide the duck with its characteristic waddle. Also fitted with a deceptively realistic "quack-quack" voice. A droll little toy."

Pictured here is one of the most famous "eccentrically wheeled" classic waddling Steiff items, the Entkette or Duck Chain. It was manufactured from 1917 through 1932 and consisted of a mother duck and five ducklings. The illustration is from the wonderful 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment book by Gunther Pfeiffer.

Steiffgal realizes that collecting has its ups and downs, but hopes that this column post brings you luck in finding your most coveted items, too!

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Steiff Hare-binger of Spring

Steiffgal sees this note from reader as a sign that spring, and the arrival of the Easter Bunny, are at least on horizon. Could this inquiry be the "hare-binger" of warmer weather and all the lovely things it brings about around these parts? Check it out and decide for yourself! Through a series of correspondences, Billee writes:

"Hello Steiffgal,

I have
a very old Steiff rabbit that was my father's and remember hearing stories that they were inseparable. He was born in 1924 so I'm sure that the rabbit is probably pre-1930. Needless to say, it is worn, but still contains the Steiff button in his left ear. There are no labels.

The rabbit is approximately 10" tall from the tip of the ears to his seat. He is light tan in color and has very small feet and arms that are permanently bent downward.
The fabric is a fur but somewhat sparse - probably due to being worn. It just feels old. He has tan stitching for his nose and mouth, but they are the same color as the fur and are therefore hard to see.

The rabbit is very firm to the feel. He
doesn't stand alone so I have to prop him up.

The ra
bbit is missing one eye but the one that remains appears to be very dark brown. I do think the one remaining eye is original. There is a very faint small circle of pink fabric - maybe felt - behind the remaining eye - probably the reason for the pinkish-red area that looks like it bled. His ears are lined in velvet.

Can you tell me anything about this rabbit and its approximate value, even though it is lovingly worn?


Here comes Peter Cotton Tail, hopping down the bunny trail, hippety hoppety Easter's on its way... Yes! I think most readers will agree that Billee's bunny very well could be one of spring's most anticipated visitors! What we have here is what Steiff calls Hase or rabbit. This particular rabbit was made from 1907 through 1926 in 22, 28, and 35 cm. His body position is called "begging", probably meaning that he'd like to sample anything you are enjoying for lunch!

Hase was originally made from white (which has turned tan over time) mohair plush fur. He has, or had, pink felt lined ears which have turned tan as well. His eyes are backed in red felt. Steiffgal thinks the felt has "bled" causing the red stain on his face. When he was new, he had a simple pink nose and mouth made from hand stitched pink floss. He left the factory in Giengen, Germany donned with a crisp pink silk ribbon. This picture, taken from Gunther Pfeiffer's 1892 - 1943 Steiff Sortiment book, shows what Billee's father's rabbit looked like when new.

This hase pattern was really popular at the turn of last century. It debuted in the 1894 catalog (not bad, given the catalog debuted in 1892!) The pattern was made in all sorts of materials, including felt, mohair, wool plush, and short pile plush in sizes ranging from 10 to 35 cm. Perhaps the most "famous" hase in this almost exact pattern was Steiff's version of Peter Rabbit, which was in production from about 1904 though 1919. Steiff introduced a more "modern" begging rabbit pattern in the mid 1920's; this rabbit had larger, more prominently detailed legs and knees, a shapelier body, and a more detailed face with a fully embroidered nose.

Billee's Hase is really lovely and a truly classic piece. And the family history behind him really makes him an heirloom!

So for his value... well, that is always a tricky question. The fact that this rabbit is missing an eye, for many collectors, is significant. It has been Steiffgal's experience that traditionally, collectors have had a thing with Steiff faces. So if there is a problem with the face, the item is less desirable in general. If this hase were Steiffgal's, she would send it to her to a professional restorer for cleaning and an eye repair right away. In general, certain types of PROFESSIONALLY executed cleanings and repairs stabilize or even improve the collectibility of items for future value. However, good restorations can be expensive so consider all of your choices. Steiffgal has had amazing results from Martha Anderson here in the USA, check out her work at

Without the eye repair and cleaning, this rabbit is PROBABLY in the $150-300 range. With the eye repair and a good cleaning, he may value more at $400+.

Steiffgal hopes this information is helpful to you and that we all are just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the spring weather we all look forward to.

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, whether it be a family heirloom or otherwise? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do You Know What Stinks About Steiff...?

...their skunks! It is completely understandable that most people just don't have a warm spot in their hearts for these odiferous omnivores. But before you take a black or white stand on these critters, just take a look at these sweet (if not sweetly scented) Steiff skunks. Perhaps these versions ala Steiff may just change your point of view!

First, here's a little history behind these misunderstood mammals. Not surprisingly, skunks are very uncommon in the Steiff line. As a matter of fact, the first skunk didn't appear in the catalog until 1955, 75 years after the company was founded in 1880! (This debut little guy is featured below...) Over time, Steiff has only commercially produced seven skunks. Of these, the most coveted is a 10 or 25 cm standing mohair skunk that was produced from 1962 through 1963 only. His short appearance and limited production puts him on the wish list of most vintage collectors.

Collectors should hand it to Steiff for producing this first featured item. Here we have Jolly Skunk, a 40 cm hand puppet (or possible pajama bag) that was produced from 1977 through 1983. He is fully washable and was designed for fun and play. Jolly Skunk is unjointed and made from white, black, and grey plush. Like Cosy Skunk, his tail is about as long as his body, and is made from very long black and white plush. Jolly Skunk has black felt lined ears, brown and white pupil eyes, monofilament whiskers, and a little pink nose made from trivera velvet. As a puppet, his body is hollow and his arms, legs, and head can be manipulated and controlled from the inside by the puppeteer.

This next skunky item is called Cosy Skunk. This soft skunk is lying down, unjointed, and made from black and white dralon. He is 22 cm overall; at least half of that is taken up in his long and bushy tail! He has tiny black felt ears, brown and black pupil eyes, monofilament whiskers, and a pink triangular stitched nose and simple mouth. Cosy Skunk has tiny felt claws at the ends of his arms; he has legs but no felt feet. Cosy Skunk reminds Steiffgal of the wonderful prone "sleeping animals" produced during the 1950’s through the 1970’s except his eyes are open! Cosy Skunk was produced from 1969 through 1974.

And finally, here is Steiff's smallest "stinker" of all, Wool-Skunk or Woolen Skunk. This little love is all of 6 cm, but Steiff has managed to pack alot into a little body. Skunk's body and head are small black and white pom-poms; he also has tiny black pom-pom front arms. His impressive tail is oval shaped and made from white mohair, which has been trimmed, in black mohair. The tail is reinforced with metal wire and is posable. The only other Woolie Steifgal can find with this combination pom-pom body and mohair/wire reinforced tail was a 5 cm squirrel that Steiff produced from 1954 through 1978.

Besides his rather detailed and elegant construction, one of the things that makes this little guy so interesting is his tiny, adorable face. It is detailed with bright green and black pupil eyes and an almost invisibly small black button nose (which Steiffgal had not noticed until today!) As noted above, Wool-Skunk was featured in the Steiff catalog from 1955 through 1961 and as far as Steiffgal can tell, was the very first Skunk Steiff ever produced.

Steiffgal hopes all of this talk about Steiff skunks has brought a breath of fresh air to your viewpoint on these little stinkers.

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

Friday, February 12, 2010

Care to Play Duck, Duck, Goose With Steiff?

Do you remember playing duck - duck - goose as a child? It's a fun group game which combines the best of speed, chance, and luck. And speaking of luck, Steiffgal feels especially lucky over these three vintage feathered friends that recently joined her growing Steiff collection. Take a look at these beautiful birds, each with their own special charm and story!


Wake up and take a
look at this Floppy Ente or Floppy duck. She was produced only from 1958 though 1959 in 17 and 28 cm. This sleepy sweetheart is made from white mohair and is very softly stuffed. Her wings are folded back over her body and are joined together with a few stitches. She has lovely pastel green and pink airbrushing highlights on her body and wings. Ente has an orange beak made from thick orange felt and closed "sleeping" eyes. Interestingly, her button is located on the underside of her left wing - as she clearly lacks ears! Perhaps the "frosting on the cake" in this darling duck is her "hair flair": the top of her noggin is detailed with a yellow wool pom-pom, similar in look and feel to the woolie birds and animals from the 1950's.

Like this
Floppy Ente, Steiff produced a great number of “sleeping” style animals during the 1950’s through the 1970’s. These included a Zotty Teddy and panda bear fox, Cocker Spaniel, Siamese cat, tabby cat, seal, and elephant, among others. They were all prone in position and referred to as “floppy” or “cosy” animals. Most were made in two standard sizes, 17 and 28 cm; all were stuffed with soft foam and had closed, heavy lidded eyes.


And speaking of pom
-poms, take a "quack" look at this Woll-Entenkueken or Woolen Duckling. This 4 cm pom-pom pal is made from yellow wool and is specifically noted in the literature to weigh 3 grams. She has a swivel head, black eyes, and a little orange felt beak. Post WWII, she was made from 1949 through 1976. Up to 1958 she was produced with metal legs; from 1969 onward she had plastic legs.

This tiny treasure holds two unique distincti
ons: first, she is the smallest Steiff item in Steiffgal's collection, and secondly, she is one of the tiniest, if not the tiniest, Steiff critter in the Steiff catalog to don a Steiff button! It is interesting to note that Steiff's 4 cm pom-pom hedgehog and 3, 4, and 6 cm pom-pom ladybugs did not come with buttons - probably because there is absolutely nowhere to attach them!

and Goose...!

here is a popular saying, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." Well, this gorgeous Steiff goose is good for everyone for sure! This 28 cm Gans or goose is standing tall and made from white mohair. Her arms are up and spread as if she were cheering on her flock of goslings. Her wings, rear, and tail feather areas are detailed with black airbrushing. She has piercing cobalt blue pupil eyes which are backed by tan felt. Her feet and open-beak are made from orange felt. She was produced from 1958 through 1964; 12 and 17 cm versions of this Gans were in the line from 1952 through 1974.

And talk about th
e goose that laid the golden egg! A similar 28 cm Steiff goose, but in mint condition with all of her IDs, sold for a whopping 1,300 DM (approximately $700 at the time) at the 2001 Steiff Summer Festival auction in Giengen, Germany! Steiffgal paid a mere fraction of that price, but feel she hit the jackpot nonetheless with this glorious and joyful addition to her Steiff hug.

Steiffgal hopes this review of these unique and collectible web-footed wonders has been, well, wonderful for you!

Have a question about one of your Steiff items, feathered or otherwise? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My Funny (Steiff) Valentine

February 14th is right around the corner so Steiffgal thought it might be fun to create a Steiff themed Valentine to get everyone in the mood for this universal day of love! It's important to celebrate those who are important to us, so don't forget your special someone(s) on Sunday! Here's Steiffgal's "sweetheart celebration", dedicated to all the wonderful friends and readers around the world who have made Steiff part of their lives too!

Part 1: Cupid

My funny Valentine,
Sweet comic V
You make me
smile with my heart...

What would this
day of love be without a cupid? This sweet little girl could certainly be the inspiration behind this song made famous by Frank Sinatra! Here we have Schlenkerpuppe Dolly, or Floppy Doll Dolly. She is 28 cm tall, unjointed, and made from trevira velvet. She has brown and black pupil eyes and a tiny felt mouth. Her hair is a shock of brownish-blond mohair. Dolly wears charming pink and white footie pajamas trimmed in lace. She is stuffed with pre-formed foam. Dolly, and a whole series of 28 and 45 cm Schlenkerpuppe dolls, were featured in the Steiff catalog from 1972 through 1983.

Part 2: Chocolates

Forrest Gump is
famous for saying: "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Well, Steiffgal would be thrilled to get a giant crate full of the next item in this Steiff valentine!

Sweets for the sweet... readers and fans of this Steiff blog! Please give a delicious welcome to Mr. Chocolate. This deep brown mohair Ted is 25 cm, fully jointed, and has distinctive, elegant suede paw pads. He came complete with a small gold box of - what else? - chocolates when he was new. His design is modeled on the classic Steiff "Mr. Cinnamon" bear pattern from 1903. He was produced in 1997 only for the Toy Store of Toledo, Ohio in a limited edition size of 2,000.

Part 3: Flower

In Victorian times, some people used floriography, or "the language of flowers", to
communicate through flowers and floral arrangements those thoughts and feelings that could not be spoken aloud. It goes without saying that this part of the Steiff Valentine could be considered a "floral fantasy!"

It wouldn't be Valentines Day without flowers, and this very unique Steiff Bear takes care of that - literally.
Here we have Teddy Flowers, who was the very first issue in the Margarete Steiff Edition series. This program, initiated in 2004, presented Steiff Club members from around the world the opportunity to enter a contest to purchase one of 500 extraordinary collectibles. The response to the contest was overwhelming, and Teddy Flowers, being the debut bear, continues to be of great interest to collectors even today.

Flowers is 33 cm, five ways jointed, and made from special white mohair which has been custom embroidered with a spray of elegant alpine roses, gentian, and edelweiss in pink, blue, and white stitching.
This mohair was made on a very special embroidery machine in St. Gallen, Switzerland, dating from 1890! This beautiful mohair is complemented by Teddy's white felt paw pads, red embroidered nose and mouth, and blue claw stitching.
Flowers arrived in a special presentation box lined with excelsior and came with a special book and certificate detailing her production.

Steiffgal hopes this trio of Valentine's Day treats has got your heart racing in anticipation of this special day of love!

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

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Steiff Bearded Beauty

Great Scott! Check out this note from a reader that really got Steiffgal's tag a-wagging. Chania from Canada writes...


I purchas
ed this sweet little Scotty dog.

She is 9" long and 6" tall. She has a little leather collar and a Steiff metal button, but no label. The button is metal and looks like pewter, and has "Steiff" written on it in thin script letters. She has glass eyes; they are round and amber with black centers. She is solidly stuffed and made from mohair.

Can you tell me something about her and her value?

Thank you so much!


Doggonit, what you have here is Steiff's lovely Scotty. She is standing, made from black mohair, and is head jointed. She left the factory in Giengen, Germany with a red leather collar. Scotty was produced from 1949 through 1957. If she has a white "US Zone" tag in one of his seams - which Steiffgal could not determine from the pictures sent in - that would mean she was made on the earlier side of this time frame. Her pewter metal button with the word "Steiff" in raised skinny script letters also confirms her production time frame. This bearded beauty was made in 10, 14, 17, 22, 25, 28, and 35 cm; sizes over 17 cm came with a squeaker.

Scotties are a longstanding, beloved breed in the Steiff product line. The first Scotties appeared in the Steiff catalog in 1930 in both sitting and standing models, ranging in sizes from 8 through 35 cm. These early versions were produced in gray as well as black. Soon after their debut, Scotties began being produced as hand puppets, pull toys on wheels, pom-pom pets, dressed dolls, purses, and pajama bags, and other items. It is not surprising that right after the war, when production resumed, that Scotties were among the first items Steiff reintroduced to the marketplace.The reader's early postwar Scotty very closely resembles those produced in the late 1930's and early 1940's... except for one very interesting detail.

If you eyeball this dog closely, you will see that one of her most "eye"-pealling features presents an interesting mystery. What is different about this specific Scotty relative to Steiff's "standard" Scotty of the early 1950's is her eyes. According to Steiff reference books and catalogs, Scotty should have glass almond shaped eyes that have white on the outer ridges, then a circle of brown, and then a black pupil. From what Chania described, her Scotty has round pupil eyes.

Upon further research, Steiffgal found a picture of two black Steiff Scotties, one with the almond eyes and one with the round eyes. This photo is taken from the Koskinen's very informative German language Steiff Teddybaren, Tiere und Puppen 1992 priceguide book. As you can see, the Scotty on the far left has round eyes, while his Scotty brother on the far right has almond eyes. (Of course, their white Sealyham cousin in the center only cares about his next doggie-dinner!) Perhaps the early postwar Scotties could have come with round OR almond eyes? It is possible that right after the war, the company used the eyes they had on hand as materials were very hard to come by, and maybe all they had the day they were making the reader's Scotty were round ones? Only her Scotty knows...

Now, what about her value?
As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and strongly believes that something is "worth" what someone else will pay for it. Thankfully, at least around these parts, the economy is finally moving from first to second gear, and prices seem to be slooooowly inching up at auction. This is starting to level the playing field for buyers and sellers. That all being said, Steiffgal has recently seen comparable early post-war Scotties sell in the $125 to $250 range.

Chania, Steiffgal hopes that this overview of your Scotty and his wonderful eye mystery helps you see her in a whole new light!

Care to have Steiffgal eyeball one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.
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