Sunday, September 9, 2012

This Huge Steiff Surprise Appeared Right Out Of The Blue!

Steiffgal's about to share a GIANT surprise with you... because it certainly was to her!  One of the most magical things about Steiff is that "new" vintage treasures seem to always appear "out of the blue...." and in this case, that's exactly what we have here!  Take a look at this note from a reader from the northeast part of the USA who asks about a larger than life family heirloom. Jeanne writes in part:


I was hoping that you would have some information about our big Steiff Teddy Bear.  Here is a photo of him wearing a top hat and ribbons on his ears. 

Our Teddy was given to my grandmother when she was a child; Grandma is now 91 years old. My great-grandmother was shopping during the Great Depression when she saw this huge Teddy Bear is a shopkeeper’s display window. She wanted to buy it for my grandmother who was her only child. She brought the Teddy Bear home on the bus; I guess it was quite a struggle. The Teddy took up a whole seat by himself! My great-grandmother lived way out in the country so it was a long ride.

Soon afterwards, my great-grandmother passed away and my grandmother was raised by a nanny.

We really don’t know too much about our Teddy Bear. He’s got blue eyes and he’s very large. He’s about 75 cm while sitting. He’s got enormous feet; his foot pads measure about 10” long. He’s got a Steiff button in his ear. He’s in okay condition considering that he’s been mauled by a dozen grandchildren over the years. He’s been very well enjoyed by the past 4 generations of our family.

One of his ears has a tear near his head. He’s got a few loose threads hanging from his nose. One of his foot pads has some loose stitches. His feet have a few small stains. His fur is a bit threadbare and faded in a few areas. His growler doesn’t work. He’s getting droopy from age. But we still love him!

My grandfather used to display the bear on floats during parades. He enjoyed dressing the bear up. 

I really enjoyed your website. I love to see pictures of Steiff bears.

Thanks so much, 


WOWZA...Steiffgal's gotta catch her breath on this one.  What Jeanne has here is a humongous Steiff Petsy bear.  This bear is simply awesome in so many ways, including the fact that his entire history with Jeanne's family has been documented over the years.  From the historical and collector's perspective, 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, and his metal lined ears, which allowed them to be posed in many fun and comical ways. 

During his years in the line, Petsy was produced in two "flavors."  The first was a brown tipped mohair version with blue eyes (like Jeanne's here) with pink/red facial and claw stitching.  Some of these tipped Petsy bears had black and blue traditional glass pupil eyes; others had the more playful black and blue cartoon style eyes.  The second Petsy version was made from brass mohair; they were detailed 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. 

Notice that a 75 cm sitting or 115 cm standing version of Petsy is not mentioned here? 

Steiff's big bruins have always generated huge interest with collectors and those interested in the company's product design evolution.  And there is evidence and precedent for 115 cm sized bears in the late 1920's and early 1930's.  For example, the 1892-1943 Steiff Sortiment book documents the following three bears in 115 cm (standing size): a "Happy" Teddy bear, in the line in 1926; a Teddy clown in the line from 1926 through 1930; and a Dicky in the line from 1931 through 1935.  Clearly, the company produced a 115 cm Petsy as well; perhaps so few were made that the company did not keep a sample of one for the archives or just unintentionally omitted keeping a record of their manufacture.  

Now for the big question, the really big question... his possible worth.  As always, Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser, and fully believes something is worth what someone will pay for it.  She has also not seen the bear firsthand -yet- so she cannot truly take into account structural issues that cannot be captured on film well, such as rips, tears, odors, and dry rot.  It is interesting to note that a 35 cm/49 cm (sitting and standing size) brown tipped, blue eyed Petsy sold for £23,600 or close to $40,000 at the 2012 London Toy Auction; this gorgeous example is pictured here on the left.  Given that Jeanne's bear is an original, early Petsy (one of the most sought after Steiff bear designs of all times,) his unusual, uncatalogued size, and fabulous provenance, and assuming that he is in as hearty condition as his owner describes, he may value in the $40,000 to $50,000+ range today.

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on Jeanne's Petsy has got you dreaming about Steiff in a super sized way!

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