Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Bundle of Steiff Joy For A Bundle of Baby Joy!

Steiff treasures are "truly friends for life", and it is always so heartwarming to hear multi-generational stories that show just that!  Check out this note from a reader who asks about a very special windfall - or shall we say "couch-fall" Teddy bear that came into her life in a most unexpected way.  Meggy writes...

"Dear Steiffgal,

I was browsing the internet to look for similar Steiff bears just like mine.  Just because I was wondering the value of this bear that was given to me from an very nice old man in a secondhand shop where I was looking for some furniture.

The couch I bought had this cute vintage looking bear sitting on it, and he gave me the bear for free with the couch.  From that day on, the bear cheers up my office every day and I didn't gave attention to it, until someone was showing me his knopf-im-ohr!  This is a real Steiff bear for sure, but how old is he? I don't have the intention to sell, but I'm just so curious!

His length is about 50 cm. And his fur is mohair. Unfortunately, the yellow label is ripped off, so you can see yellow fabric but no number.  I really hope you can help me with some information and your knowledge about this amazing bear's history!

Kind regards,

Meggy, let's sit down and discuss what you've got here!  This is Steiff's original Teddy bear which was in production from the very early 1950's through 1966.  Specifically, these bears are five ways jointed and made from Steiff's traditional mohair. They have brown and black pupil eyes and and a simple hand embroidered nose and mouth.  The vast majority of these bears "bear" Steiff's "rsb" or "raised script button"; this button was in the line roughly from 1952 through 1969, and is pictured here on the left.  Overall, this popular and beloved design and pattern was produced in gold, blond, caramel, brown, and white mohair in the 1950 through 1966 time frame in 10, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 28, 35, 40, 43, 50, 65, and 75 cm.

Meggy's sweet boy from the photos appears to be caramel and the third largest sized made.  Steiffgal has noticed that this model of bear has become more and more popular and has a theory about that.  She thinks that for many of today's collectors, this particular model was the one that they may have had as children growing up! 

Now for the most bearish question of all, his value. As always, Steiffgal is not  a formal appraiser, and believe that something is worth what someone will pay.  She has not seen the bear firsthand and cannot attest to its condition in terms of its structural integrity, any odors, holes, rips, bear patches, etc. However, given that he is in very good condition, without any of the conditions mentioned here, he may value in the $300-600 range, given his lovely size and dear expression.

Meggy also shared this little "bundle of joy" after learning the background and age of her bear...

Dear Steiffgal,

Thank you so much!!! Now I know his age I love him even more!  We are expecting a baby boy in September, and I think this hairy friend will love to keep an eye on him from a safe height!

Kind regards,

Steiffgal hopes the story of Meggy's double blessing - Steiff and otherwise - will brings you the best of luck as well!
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Everyone Loves a (Steiff) Man In Uniform!

Some Steiff treasures are so special - and personal - that you just want to stand and salute them.  And such is the exact case here with this "almost antique" felt soldier that Steiffgal most recently welcomed into her growing collection of turn of last century dolls.   Take a look at his handsome details and see what makes him so special from the design, historical, and in this case, family perspectives.

It's safe to say this distinguished gentleman makes quite the uniform presentation.  This is Steiff's five ways jointed "Infantryman" doll.  He is 28 cm and made entirely from felt.  His head and hands are made from flesh colored felt while his uniform and hat, which are integral to his body, are made from brown felt.  His center seamed face is detailed with tiny brown and black glass pupil eyes, red painted on lips, and light brown eyebrows.  His hair is indicated by very light brown airbrushing on the back of his head.  Soldier's uniform consists of a matching top coat, hat, and pants.  The hat is trimmed in red felt and has two decorative medallions on it.  The coat has a pointed collar, epaulets, and decorative buttons and trim on the cuffs.  Originally it had five tiny matching buttons down the front.  The pants are simple and detailed with red stitching.  Soldier has oilcloth shoes, a leather belt, and a ceremonial sabre.  Infantryman was made in 28 and 35 cm from 1914 though 1921.

It's hard to miss the large military medal pinned to the soldier's uniform.  This is an authentic German army "Iron Cross" from World War I, given for distinguished military service. The award is not original to the doll, most likely it was placed there by his original owner in honor of a loved one who fought in this war.  This particular Iron Cross has the era in which it was issued the year "1914".  The reverse of the medal has the year "1813" on it, symbolizing the year the award was created. 

When Steiffguy saw this doll and his medal, it immediately brought back a flood of memories for him.  As it turns out, his beloved Grandfather of blessed memory was also awarded this same medal for his service in WWI.  Steiffguy's Grandfather's name was Eugene Strauss Loewenstein.  He changed his last name to Lowell after arriving in the United States in 1922.  Eugene was born on June 18, 1896 near Mainz, Germany.  After taking the oath to serve in the German Army in late November 1914, he was wounded in action (head wound from shrapnel) on February 16, 1915 in France.   He subsequently was awarded the Iron Cross.  Eugene is pictured above, not in uniform, wearing his Iron Cross, in the city of Dusseldorf, Germany.  He is also pictured below wearing his Iron Cross, surrounded by friends after returning home from the war.  The hand written note on the back of the nearly century old photo reads:

"A Comic Photo - everyone (Berg, Klos, Reiner, Heisse, Gelenberg) dressed in long night shirts (no pajamas were used then) – all young friends who greeted me upon returning from the war.   Note Iron Cross.  These boys were all several years younger."

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of this Steiff soldier doll and the Iron Cross has won the battle of your heart.

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

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Covering Steiff's Rare and Wonderful Butch The Cover Dog

So just what does it take to be top dog in the Steiff collectibles world?  Clearly looks, size, and breed play a big part in this blue ribbon contest.  But what about historical significance?  Taking all of these things into consideration, Steiffgal may just nominate this very special black and white Cocker Spaniel for this title.  

Eye think you may recognize this precious pup as "Butch the Cover Dog."  Butch is standing, 17 cm, and head jointed.  His body and face are made from short white mohair which has been carefully airbrushed with black highlights on his back and head.  His ears, tail, and feet are made from very long black shaggy mohair.  Butch has long white mohair "feathers" on the back seams of each of his front and back legs.   His face is detailed with very large round black, brown, and white spherical eyes, a black and embroidered nose and mouth, and a touch of pink highlighting around his lips.   He also has a special named Steiff chest tag, which is pictured above. Butch was made in 1958 in 17 cm.  He was also produced in a 31 cm sitting version that same year.  These larger versions are extremely rare; one sold in 2010 for almost $3,400!

Butch truly is a "Cover Dog!" Butch was created by artist Albert Staehle, one of the most popular commercial illustrators of the 1930's through the 1950's.  Staehle, who was known for his charming and realistic drawings of animals, was invited by the Saturday Evening Post to illustrate a dog cover for the magazine. Butch first appeared on the February 19, 1944 issue, which is shown here on the left.  Butch was pictured chewing up a book of wartime rationing stamps. This cover was incredibly popular and the readers really responded to the pup - so much that over time, he appeared on 25 covers through the end of the 1940's.  Over time, Butch also appeared as a mascot for the American Kennel Club and the US Navy, and on the covers of numerous other national and international publications.   

Butch in some ways closely resembles another beloved black and white Steiff Cocker Spaniel named Cockie. Cockie is standing and head jointed; her body is made from white colored mohair which has lovely black spots. Like Butch, Cockie's ears are made from long black mohair.  She has pert black and white google eyes and a hand embroidered black nose.  Cockie was produced in 12, 19, and 29 cm from 1960 through 1976. 

So how do you tell these darling doggies apart, apart from size? The differences are subtle, but include:

  • Eyes: Butch has spherical, pea-sized black, brown, and white pupil peepers that "pop off" of his face. Cockie has round, pea-sized eyes that are google style and are more flush to her face.
  • Feet: Butch's feet are made from very long black mohair. It almost appears he is wearing black fuzzy slippers. Cockie's feet may have a little black on them, but they are mostly white and not exceptionally fuzzy.
  • Coloring: Butch has alot more black on his back and face than does Cockie. Cockie has black spotting along her back; Butch's back is solid black. 
Steiffgal hopes this discussion about Butch the Cover Dog has made front page news for you.

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

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Feeling A Little "Tipsy" Over This Remarkable Steiff Tipped Bear Cub

So what's on your Steiff "bucket list?"  Those items that you hope and pray you may own someday during your lifetime?  Well, for Steiffgal, that would definitely include one of Steiff's original and child-like "Petsy" baby bears from the late 1920's.  So imagine her delight when she came across this remarkable Petsy, for sale at the upcoming June 12, 2012 London Toy Auction!  Take a look at this blue-eyed beauty below and see what you think... could he be on your list as well? 

A handsome Steiff Petsy baby bear from the late 1920's
According to his catalog description, what we have here is...

"A rare and fine Steiff Petsy centre seam Teddy bear.   With white brown-tipped mohair, rare blue and black opaque glass side-glancing googlie-eyes, pronounced muzzle, pink stitched vertical nose [pictured below], mouth and claws, large wired ears, swivel head, jointed elongated limbs with felt pads, hump, inoperative growler and large FF button in ear [pictured below], circa 1929.  19in. (49 cm) high (needs a light clean, ear wires broken, slight staining to pads and gap in nose stitching.)

Provenance:  This bear belonged to the vendor’s late aunt, who was born in 1910. She would have been given him (or bought him) when she was 18 or 19, perhaps as an 18th birthday present, this would explain his amazing condition.  Steiff Catalogue inventory number probably 5335,2.  Page 30 of Steiff Sortiment, 1892-1943. Following Richard Steiff’s suggestion, that they make their bears more appealing to the American market; Steiff came up with this new design with wired ears, blue eyes and softer expression. Originally he was patented in January 1928, as Bushcy, this name was not a success and in November 1928 he became the bear cub Petsy." 

Petsy's pink vertical stitched nose and large FF button in ear
Oh baby, what's not to love about this little bear cub?  Petsy had a very short, but very sweet, appearance in the Steiff catalog, only appearing from 1928 through the very early 1930's.  What made him different than past designs, among other factors, was his prominent middle facial seam which ran vertically from his forehead across his snout.  During his years in the line, Petsy was produced in two versions.  The first was a brown tipped mohair version with blue eyes (like the example under discussion) with pink/red facial and claw stitching.  The second was a brass mohair version with brown and black pupil eyes and black facial and claw stitching. The tipped version appeared in ten sizes ranging from 15 to 50 cm sitting (or 22 to 75 cm standing) while the brass version was only produced in one size:  22 cm sitting or 32 cm standing.  Tipped Petsy was also produced as a musical Ted in 17 and 20 cm (or 25 and 30 cm standing), on a four wheeled rolling cart in 20 and 25 cm, as a 17 cm puppet, and as a 17 cm purse. 

Steiff's late 1920's-era Cheerio and 1950's-era Lulac rabbit
Of course, the eyes are windows to the soul and you cannot help but notice Petsy's most playful peepers.  They are made from turquoise and black glass, and can be tilted to the left and right to create funny and varying facial expressions.  These eyes can also be found on Steiff's comical dog Cheerio, who coincidentally - or not - appeared during the same time frame as Petsy.   Interestingly, these silly eyes were again featured on Steiff's 1950's era Lulac rabbit models.  Cheerio and Lulac are pictured above. However, most original Petsys featured conventional blue or brown round glass pupil eyes.  

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion about Steiff's Petsy bears hasn't made your brown eyes blue.

For more information on the upcoming London Toy Auction click here!

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

Friday, June 1, 2012

Singing A Happy Tune Over This 1950's Steiff Musical Dog Doll

Ever feel like singing a happy tune because something in your Steiff collection makes you smile - for so many reasons?  Such is the case with this delightful and very unusual musical masterpiece that Steiffgal recently welcomed into her collection.  Not only is the treasure a precious find, it is also in remarkable shape for its age, and comes with a full family history.  As Ben Affleck said in the 1997 Oscar winning movie Good Will Hunting... "How do you like them apples?"  Steiffgal likes them alot!  So without further ado, here she is, and here is her story.
This top dog is known as Musik-Bazi or Music Bazi.  Bazi is 25 cm tall, unjointed, and standing.   Her body is a simple cylinder and her arms are floppy.  Her head is based on the beloved and endearing Bazi dachshund design, introduced in 1950. Bazi wears a blue cotton blouse, red cotton skirt, and had a sweet floral corsage when she left the factory in Giengen more than 60 years ago.  She has an internal Swiss music box which plays when her torso is pressed and released.  Bazi was made in 1950 and 1951 only.  She retains her original Steiff raised script button, crisp yellow ear tag with the numbers 9325 on it, and a white linen "Made in the US Zone" tag, ID which perfectly align with her dates of manufacture. It is interesting to note that her ID number translates to... 9=mechanical, 3=mohair, 25=25 cm. Steiff also made girly versions of this dressed music box product based on their popular Teddy Baby and Kitty cat designs of the period. 
Equally precious to her looks and musical talents are the details of her provenance. Her past owner, whom Steiffgal now calls a friend, provided these details of Bazi's history. They write in part...

"...[I recall as a youngster] that she was always kept out of harm's way on top of my father's chest of drawers. I am now [in my 60's] and there is never a time when I cannot remember her. 
[To make her sing, you] press down [on her belly], with a firm but gentle hand, and the musical notes play on the way down, and on the way back up. I have always assumed those beautiful notes played the first bar of "edelweiss", probably because of the little edelweiss flower on her dress.  And I think my father called her edelweiss for those reasons, and thence we children did the same... we children were very rarely allowed to push her down, and only with my father present!"
Now for the question that sends Steiffgal to the doghouse... her value.  As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and feels that something is worth what someone will pay.  On the upside, she is a collector's dream:  a unusual item, in lovely working condition, complete with a family history and legacy.  In addition, Steiff's early post war musical items seldom come on the secondary market and usually demand a premium when they do; the "Teddy Baby" version of this design had a hammer price of close to $3,000 a few years back at an auction at Christie's in London.  On the other side of the coin, over the past two years or so, the collectible market is way down because of the poor global economic situation.  Today, based on sales of other like items, and things from the early 1950's period, and musical examples, Steiffgal guesstimates that she most likely values in the $750 to 1,000 USD range.   
Steiffgal hopes this discussion of this wonderful Bazi has been like music to your ears.
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more. 
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