Saturday, March 26, 2011

Heads Up on This Prize Winning Steiff Rarity!

Steiff's 60 cm lion trophy from 1958
Heads up, Steiff fans!  Sometimes Steiff made items for such a short time frame - and under very limited distribution - that spotting one deserves a trophy!  Such is the case here with this most unusual jungle jem.  Through a series of correspondences, Yvonne writes...

"Dear Steiffgal,

I just checked out your website, wondered if you knew anything about a Steiff lion head mount.  

I think it was manufactured in 1958.  My grandparents gave it to me when I was born and I have had it ever since.  The tag in the left ear says "Steiff original, 60. made in Germany" and "51% wool and 49% cotton" on the other side of the tag.  He is in mint condition, no worn spots at all, no missing parts, and all teeth are intact.  I think he looks great, but he is currently sitting in a closet on a shelf.

Steiff's elephant trophy from 1958
Let's take it from the top... what a great Steiff prize (and a MOST unusual baby gift!).  What Yvonne has here is called a Steiff Trophy.  Her lion model was made in 1958 only, and came in two sizes, 28 and 60 cm; hers is the larger version. The item consists of the head mounted to a wooden, hunting style plaque.  The head itself is made from mohair and stuffed with excelsior.  Lion has his long mohair mane, shorter mohair face, brown and black pupil eyes, and a large, pink hand embroidered nose.  But perhaps his most pointed feature is his large open felt lined mouth - complete with four large white wooden teeth.  

Back of rhino trophy, showing mounting slots
Heading off any confusion about their rarity, this overall design trophy design was produced exclusively for the United States market.  Steiff produced these trophies in the most popular "big game" designs of the time.  These included elephants (see above), bears, rhinos, leopards, lions, and tigers; the heads were based on the size and proportions of standard line large or studio sized animals.  Like the lion trophy, each was produced in two sizes 28 and 60 cm.   The shape of the wooden mounting base varied considerably from item to item.  Sometimes the base just covered the rear of the head, leaving no wood exposed on the front (see picture); other times the plaque was round, oval, or shield shaped with a little brass plaque on the bottom, which could be engraved with the owners name or accomplishment.  

Steiffgal hopes this review of Steiff trophies has been a headline of your day!

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