Friday, May 27, 2011

"Lots" to Learn About Teddy Dorado And The Upcoming Steiff Sommer Auction!

Imagine if a big part of your profession included hanging out with, cataloging, and selling delightful vintage Steiff collectibles.  For many of us, that would just be a dream job!  Please meet Carsten Esser, who spends his days doing just that.  Carsten is the Managing Director and Auctioneer at Teddy Dorado, an auction house in Germany that specializes in the treasures we all love.  He agreed to speak with us about his company, love of Steiff, and the upcoming auction at the annual "Steiff Sommer" Festival in July. 

Steiffgal:  Thanks so much for talking with us today.  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Carsten:   Sure!  I live in Wachtberg, Germany which is in the Cologne-Bonn area of Germany, and near the Rhine River.   I studied economics and business at a university quite near the Steiff factory in Giengen.  I just turned 40 years old this month.  On my special day I had the pleasure of spending time at the Steiff Company, working on the selections for The Giengen Steiff Auction, which is one of the highlights of the company's annual summer event.  This year, the auction will be held on July 2nd, 2011.

Steiffgal:  Are you personally a Steiff collector?

Carsten:  Oh yes!  I have been interested in Steiff my entire life and have a large personal collection.  Even as a child I would attend toy fairs in Germany as a dealer and buy and sell Steiff.  In the 1980's I started collecting old catalogs and other Steiff ephemera, although the toys have always been the most special to me. So I am very lucky that I do what I love, and love what I do!

Steiffgal:  Please tell us about Teddy Dorado.  What is the history and story behind your company?

Carsten:  For many years, I bought and sold vintage Steiff items on eBay.  I liked to see all the listings and photos, but was frustrated that every seller had their own way of presenting items and that there were no standard terms and metrics to describe the condition of items.  So I came up with the idea of running auctions just for Steiff items.  The goal was to have a well organized marketplace with clear categories, plenty of good pictures and precise descriptions.  I thought this would be interesting for Steiff collectors worldwide, and I think I was right.  So Teddy Dorado was born!  

In August, 2010 we started our company website.  We held our first two auctions in October 2010 and then again in April 2011.  Our company has a core team of three employees, but during special events, our staff grows to about 25 people to help support all the logistics and tasks that come with our worldwide auctions. You can see our building which is pictured above. 

Steiffgal:  Tell us about the name of your company. What does it mean, and how did you come up with it?

Carsten:  The name is based on the idea of an "El Dorado" - or city of gold - for Teddy bear collectors.  Our company aims to be worldwide marketplace where stuffed toys and Teddy bears are traded in a very efficient way. 

Steiffgal:  Tell us about the upcoming Steiff auction which will be held as part of Steiff's annual summer celebration.  How did you get involved with this event?

Carsten:  Teddy Dorado was only recently contacted by the Steiff management team about hosting the  upcoming auction during the company's upcoming "Steiff Summer 2011".  I think they asked us to participate because they liked our printed auction catalogs, the quality of our website, and how we ran our past auctions in our salesroom.

The auction will be held on July 2nd, 2011.  133 extraordinary Steiff toys will be sold.  These include prewar Teddy bears, cats, and dogs; many uncataloged plush items; historical documents and photographs from the company;  and even a painting that once hung in Margarete Steiff's living room!

As for the auction logistics, worldwide bids will be accepted, and the buyer's premium will be 16% of the hammer price. The printed catalog is 232 pages and includes a reprint of the Steiff 1930 Jubilee Publication.  All the auction lots, and more details about the auction and catalog, - including downloadable bidding forms - can be found at our website,

Steiffgal:  Two final questions.  In your opinion, what is the most special item in the auction?  Personally, what is your favorite lot in the auction?

Carsten:  That's really hard to say as there are so many absolutely stunning Steiff toys in the auction.  A very special item is a 105 year old "Humpty Dumpty", or what we call "Man from Mars" or "Egg Head" here in Germany.  He is in like new condition; his felt is blemish free, his face painting is perfect, and his felt clothing is still vibrantly colored. You can see him here on the left. 

Personally, I am drawn to a white Teddy bear from the late 1920s.  He is in mint condition and even retains his red ear tag.  It is even more dear to me as it comes from a brilliant private collection of a collector to whom I spoke about my idea about a specialty auction house before founding Teddy Dorado. 

Steiffgal:  That sounds really exciting!  Thank you so much for your time and for helping Steiff collectors all over the world share in these remarkable rarities!

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

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Care To Noodle These Rare and Fabulous Vintage Steiff Poodles?

Take these curls for a whirl!  Steiff has a century plus long legacy of creating some of the most adorable poodles for collectors and enthusiasts around the world.  Who can resist their darling 'dos and princess-like personalities!  Although the beloved and well-known Snobby poodle made her debut in 1953, Steiff also created a handful of lesser-known poodle models in the 1950's and early 1960's.  Let's take a look at some of these blue ribbon beauties and see what makes them so interesting from the collector's perspective. 

Here's a most unusual poodle for you to noodle!  Here we have Steiff's Tosi.  She is standing, unjointed, and made from wool plush.  She came in black or white.  Her face is detailed with a black glass button nose and soulful, almond shaped white, brown, and black eyes.  She wears a red leather collar. Her coat is in what is referred to as a "Karakul" trim, meaning that it is fluffy but uniformly the same length all over her body.  Tosi was produced in 4, 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1950 through 1953. Because of her time of manufacturer, Tosi would have left the factory with a red-imprinted chest tag and a US Zone tag in her leg seam. 

Tosi's little sister is this early poodle Snobby.  She is standing and made from wool plush.  She came in black or white.  Like Tosi, face is detailed with a black glass button nose, but Snobby has round brown and black glass pupil eyes.  Her mouth and claws are defined by brown embroidery.  Her coat is in what Steiff refers to as the "French"trim, meaning that it is fluffy basically from the waist area up; her lower torso and backside are more closely cropped.  She also has longer tufts of fur around her knees, elbows, and the tip of her tail.  The original Snobby was produced in 17 or 22 cm in 1952 only.     Like Tosi, because of her time of manufacturer, she would have left the factory with a red-imprinted chest tag and a US Zone tag in her leg seam.

This next long legged lovely is a Steiff supermodel for sure!  Here we have Snobbylac Pudel or Snobbylac Poodle.  This tall drink of water is a whopping 80 cm tall, with alot of that height coming from her remarkably long legs!  She is made from short grey wool plush and five ways jointed.  Her feet, hands, ears, and forehead are particularly "puffy!" She has brown and black pupil eyes and her floppy ears are lined in grey felt. Readers will probably recognize her as one of Steiff's legacy "lulac"style animals - playful and jolly patterns with exaggeratedly long limbs and torsos.  She has brown and black glass pupil eyes and a black leather nose.  She was produced in 1958 only as a United States exclusive. 

Our last rare curly girl would make a charming lap dog for sure.  Here we have another poodle named Snobby.  She is 28 cm, five ways jointed, and made from the same wool plush as Snobbylac.  She has brown and black pupil eyes and a black leather nose.  Her mouth and claws are defined by black airbrushing.  Her coat, like the original Snobby mentioned above, is in the "French" cut - but in this case, perhaps an "extreme" French cut, as her fluffy areas are REALLY fluffy!  She wears two magenta colored ribbons, one around her neck and one on the top of her mile-high hairdo!  Snobby was produced from 1962 through 1968 in 28 and 35 cm as an exclusive item for the high end toy retailer FAO Schwarz in theUnited States; you can see the wooden red bell-shaped FAO Schwarz hangtag hanging from her on the picture here to the left.

Steiffgal hopes this review of rare, early postwar poodles has added a fancy twist to your day.
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tongue's A-Wag Over These Mouthy Steiff Marvels

Steiffgal is not being tongue in cheek when she says she just loves Steiff's dogs from the 1950's and early 1960's.  And, the ones with realistic features especially whet her appetite for collecting!  Let's take a look at some of Steiff's "most mouthy" canine friends from this era and see what makes them so interesting and collectible.

You cannot help but crack a smile when it comes to Steiff's delightful Arco German Shepherd.  Steiff has featured German Shepherds in its line since 1923, and German Shepards named Arco since since 1937.  However, Arco was not produced with his terrific and authentic tongue as a detail until 1957.  Arco is standing, unjointed, and made from tan mohair which has been airbrushed with tan and black highlights.  His face is made from shorter mohair, to draw attention to his handsome canine features. This delightful pattern was produced standing in 10, 17, 22, and 35 cm, lying in 22, 35, and 50 cm, and on wheels in 43 and 50 cm and appeared in one form or another in the line from 1957 through 1976.  

The next tongued treasure is Steiff's Beppo dachshund.  (Did you know that "dachshund "translates from the German to "Badger Dog"... as these long, thin, and low to the ground pooches were bred to hunt badgers in their underground tunnels.)  As you can see from the picture on the left, beautiful Beppo is made from black and brown mohair and is five ways jointed.  He has black and brown pupil eyes and a delightful and joyful open-mouthed facial expression, complete with a happy wagging tongue.  Beppo has a squeaker and was produced in 10 and 17 cm from 1952 through 1961.  Many collectors confuse Beppo with Lumpi, a very similarly designed black and tan open mouthed dachshund.  However, unlike Beppo who is totally jointed, Lumpi is only head jointed was produced in 11 and 18 cm from 1963 through 1974. 

When it comes to wagging tongues, Steiff's terrific Tessie Schnauzer would have to take first place.  Tessie is standing, head jointed, and made from light grey mohair. She has proportionally large black and brown pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered mouth, and pert triangular shaped ears.  Tessie's coloring is highlighted by her red leather collar.  One of the most "recognizable" features about Tessie's design is her prominent circular red felt tongue, suggesting she is always smiling - or ready for a good meal. Tessie appeared in 10, 14, 22, and 28 cm from 1954 through 1976.  A sweet 10 and 14 cm "mother-daughter" pair is shown here on the left. 
Our final mouthy marvel would have to be Steiff's lovely Collie, who was introduced in 1960.  She is sitting, unjointed and made from mohair. Collie is incredibly detailed and well made... it is amazing how much handiwork was dedicated to this good girl! She is primarily tan with black and brown airbrushing. Her chest and tail are made from longer mohair. She has an open felt lined mouth and a red tongue, and brown and black pupil eyes. The larger model has black hand embroidered claws on her hands and feet. Of all the dogs Steiff has ever produced post war, Collie is perhaps Steiffgal's most favorite for its wonderful authenticity and just plain appeal.  This model was produced in 12 and 22 cm from 1960 through 1969 as illustrated on the left.  Collie was produced in a lying position in 25 and 43 cm from 1960 through 1975.  

An old proverb says, ""One reason a dog is such a lovable creature is his tail wags instead of his tongue." Steiffgal says one of the reasons Steiff's dogs are so lovable is that they wag both... and hopes you feel the same way!

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

Monday, May 9, 2011

Steiff's King of the Canine Castle

Some named button-in-ear designs are like royalty, and there is no better example of that then Steiff's delightful "Charly" King Charles Spaniel Collectors find their long ears, fuzzy bodies, and preciously pouty expressions all but irresistible.  This charming canine only appeared in the line in the late 1920's and 1930's and is considered a blue ribbon find due to their rarity. Let's take a look at this design and see what makes it so interesting from a historical and collector's perspective.

Charly received his coronation into the Steiff line in 1928.  He was produced both sitting and standing; the two versions were head jointed only.  Charly dogs were made from light brown and white mohair; had extremely long fuzzy ears; large, childlike brow and black pupil eyes; a very detailed facial seam structure; and a prominent tail.  Their filling was soft kapok, meaning that they were lighter in weight and more cuddly than other animals stuffed with crunchy excelsior.  Overall, standing Charly was manufactured in 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, and 22 cm from 1928 through 1938 while sitting Charly appeared in the line in 10, 14, 17, 22, 25, 30, and 35 cm from 1928 through 1936.  

Charly was an immediate sensation, and it is easy to understand why from a historical perspective.  This design appeared at what may be called the first "dog days" of Steiff, which lasted from 1925 and 1938. (The second "dog days" occurred in the late 1950's and early 1960's). During the 1920's and 1930's,  real - and toy - dogs were the constant companions of high society ladies across Europe.  And cute smaller breeds, like King Charles Spaniels, Bulldogs, and Pekingese, were all the rage as pets as well as accessories!  Understanding this trend, Steiff produced close to 40 new canine species, including a series of lap dogs including the now classic Charly, Bully, and Molly models.  

Charly also proved to be a great source for highly successful “theme and variation” product introductions, due to his popularity with collectors.  He appeared as a 17 cm light brown and white mohair puppet from 1928 through 1939, and as a "handtasche" or child sized purse in 22 and 25 cm from 1927 through 1933 - pictured here on the left.  He was also made in two pincushion styles:  both the sitting and standing versions were mounted on a square mohair pincushion; the sitting version was produced from 1929 through 1932 while the standing version was produced from 1930 through 1932. One of these rarities recently sold at the October, 2010 Steiff auction at Christies for $1,385!  Chary was also made as a 10 cm standing or sitting nomotta woolen miniature from 1935 thorough 1937, and as a playful purple dressed 28 cm Pupp-animal doll from 1929 through 1930.  A pristine female version of this Charly Pupp-animal doll sold for $8,311 at the October, 2010 Steiff Auction at Christie's - you can see her - but probably can't resist her - right here on the left!

Despite his popularity, Charly made his last formal appearance in the Steiff line in the late 1930's.  It wasn't until 2005 that he resurfaced again, as a 28 cm North American Limited Edition replica purse, in an edition size of 1,500. 

Steiffgal hopes this "Charly chat" has your tongue wagging - in a good way-  over this marvelous and rare Steiff design.

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