Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Mountain of Steiff Treasures From the Teddies of Mt. Holly Steiff Event

Talk about a treasure trove of remarkable Steiff collectibles!  Steiffgal recently had the pleasure of attending a Steiff event at Teddies of Mt. Holly, a beautifully merchandised store in New Jersey specializing in new and vintage Steiff treasures and Teddy bears.  And what a perfect day it was... gorgeous fall weather, delightful collectors, and of course, remarkable Steiff of every size, shape, and era.  Take a look at just a handful wonderful items brought to the show for identification and valuation - and the stories behind them. 

No, you are not seeing stripes!  Here we have a fantastic 100 cm Steiff Studio baby zebra.  This black and white beauty is standing and made from off-white mohair which has been painstakingly hand stenciled with black stripes. He has a white and black mane down his back and his tail is tipped in long black mohair.  The insides of his ears are lined in white dralon.  Zebra has huge brown and black pupil eyes and mile-long blond eyelashes.  Steiff made Studio zebras in 100 cm in 1960 and in 150 cm in 1960 and again in 1967. 

According to his owner, this zebra was purchased at an antique show a few years ago in the mid-Atlantic area.  The dealer was selling a few Steiff items on behalf of a friend, and sold this item to the collector "at a price to die for!"

Viewing this next Steiff treasure was a moving experience - literally.  Here we have a fantastic example of a Steiff Automaton or moving window display.  It measures overall about 18 inches deep by 24 inches wide by about 20 inches tall.  The Automaton is made from wood; the background is stenciled with trees and the base is lined in short, green plush to resemble grass. The Automaton features two caramel colored mask Teddies, a blond mask Teddy, a woolen miniature black Hucky raven with plastic legs, a green woolen miniature frog, and a soft plush squirrel.  When the Automaton is plugged in, the smaller caramel Teddy starts sawing the downed log, which is made from paper mache, and the larger Teddy drinks from his "honey" mug.  Based on the animals in this Automaton, and their ear tags and buttons, it is Steiffgal's best estimate that this dynamic display was produced around 1984 or so.  

According to its owner, this Automaton was purchased from an elderly woman who was looking to rehome her treasures to an enthusiastic collector.  These Automatons can range in dimensions from a foot or so to several yards long; this is a wonderful example of a smaller scale one that could easily displayed and appreciated in most home collections.

No monkeying around with this next Steiff surprise!  Here we have a delightful 35 cm example of Steiff's somewhat rare Schimpanse or Chimpanzee.  He is a close relative to Steiff's beloved Jocko Chimp is five ways jointed made from long brown tipped mohair.  He has chunky limbs and felt hands, feet, and ears.  His prominent brown and black glass pupil eyes are set dramatically into felt eye pocket.  Chimp was made in 25, 30, 35, 40, and 100 cm from 1928 through 1934.  A tail moves head version of this model was produced in nine sizes ranging from 13 through 66 cm from 1931 through 1934 as well.   

According to his owner, this marvelous monkey was purchased for a song from an older collector who kept this pet outdoors on her porch for many years.  That may explain why the chimp's felt hands and feet are a bit in distress - perhaps from moth damage - and why his mohair has faded overall to a light blond, except for in his joints and crotch area.   

It's always a good idea to go out in big way, and this last find accomplishes that in largest way possible.  No, your eyes do not deceive you.  Here we have a 100 cm Studio Zotty bear - the very largest size of this design on record.   This humongous heart throb was produced for one year - 1967 only.  From the historical perspective, Zotty was one of the first new bear designs introduced after the Second World War, in 1951. He has appeared in the line, in one form or another, almost continuously since then. The early 1950's were an amazingly busy time at Steiff, as the company looked to rebuild its pre-war reputation for quality, while at the same time introduce new, innovative, contemporary designs to an expanding global marketplace. Zotty’s debut was one of the most significant efforts towards those goals. To “qualify” as a Zotty, a Steiff Teddy bears needs these three things: an open felt lined mouth; a front insert bib made of a complementary colored mohair to his body; and of course, be made from very shaggy material.  Overall, Steiff's original mohair Zotty was produced in nine sizes, ranging from 17 through 100 centimeters, from 1951 through 1978.  

According to his owner, this tremendous Ted was purchased at a yardsale around 25 years ago.  And for how much at the time?  Are you sitting down, with a seatbelt on?  If so, read on... because he joined her hug for a mere $5.  See, Steiff dreams can come true!

Steiffgal hopes this "brag book" of Steiff treasures from the Teddies of Mt. Holly Show has added an interesting chapter to your Steiff day.

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

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Steiffgal's 3 Wishes For The Upcoming Teddy Dorado Auction

So, if you could have three Steiff wishes, what would they be?  Steiffgal knows that's a really hard question, and would have trouble answering it herself.  But it's certainly easy to dream big when it comes to Steiff auctions!   And, many of the lots at the upcoming Teddy Dorado auction on October 27th, 2012 offer plenty of opportunity for happy thoughts!  You can check out the event's online catalog by clicking here... but be forewarned that you just may fall in love with a treasure or two (or more!)  Take a look at Steiffgal's bronze, silver, and gold picks for this upcoming Steiff auction... and what makes them so interesting from a design and historical perspective.

Steiffgal's bronze medal choice makes her want to shake, rattle, and roll.  Here we have an adorable Steiff rattle bear in like new condition.  This tiny Ted is 10.5 cm sitting, 13.5 cm standing, five ways jointed, and made from white mohair.  Her face is detailed with black glass eyes and a brown hand embroidered nose and mouth.  She has long and slender arms and legs and a pointy muzzle.  Because of her petite proportions, her hands and feet do not have felt paws.  She is hard stuffed with excelsior and has a bell rattle in her belly.  Ted retains her large, trailing "F" button; it it is estimated that she was produced in the 1912 through 1925 time frame.  Interestingly, she come in a pretty, festive cardboard box that is labeled "Weihnachten 1925" or "Christmas 1925." 

And what makes this sweet Ted the leader of the band?  Clearly, no Steiff enthusiast could resist her adorable facial expression or immaculate condition.  Not bad for a gal who's probably close to ninety years old!  But she's got rhythm for sure!  Her still functional rattle - a feature which Steiff used on a handful of its most popular c. 10 cm models through the 1920's - can't help but make most Steiff collectors feel like dancing!

Our silver medal choice is truly larger than life.  Here we have Steiff's Dwarf Spitz dog; he measures 20.5 cm high and approximately 20 cm long.  This Miniature Pomeranian dog is unjointed and standing.  He is hard stuffed with excelsior.  His body is made from long pile mohair, while his face, legs, and the back of his ears are made from short white mohair.  His face is detailed with dark brown and black glass pupil eyes and a black hand embroidered back nose and mouth.  The insides of his ears are lined in white felt.  He has a working lateral pressure voice squeaker.  Spitz retains his original red leather collar with metal ring; short trailing "F" Steiff button, "Dwarf Spitz" named chest tag, and fully legible yellow ear tag.  This delightful dog was manufactured in the 1935 through 1943 time frame. 

And what makes this little guy such a big deal? First, his condition is just extraordinary. It is challenging to find pristine examples of Steiff items from the late 1930 through early 1940 time frame - but this guy takes the blue ribbon in all categories here. Plus, Steiff has a wonderful history and legacy of producing Spitz or Pomeranian dogs. Over time, since the turn of last century, Steiff has produced this breed on wheels, fully jointed, and as a pincushion on a red velvet pillow. The earliest models were decorated with a red cord with two pom-poms or tassels around his neck, giving then a “regal” appearance. The breed does have some connections to German royalty, which may explain why they are decorated like “little kings”.  

You'll have to take Steiffgal's word on this - this Steiff "book" certainly deserves the gold medal!  Here we have Steiff's Spielbuch or Game Book.   This item is approximately 18.5 cm wide and about 15.5 cm high.  According to Steiff records, it was designed to provide "different templates for children from two years, to the placement of tactile sensitivity, color joy, skill and sense."  This unusual item is made from sheets of thick felt and is "bound" by metal rings.  Each page features hands on to-dos for young children, including activities related to colors, sizes, snaps, ties, buttons, and the like. The cover features a large, mostly flat three dimensional mohair rabbit head; his face is detailed with large brown and black glass pupil eyes, a pink-red hand embroidered nose and mouth, felt lined ears, and a red ribbon and bell. His ear is branded with a short trailing "F" Steiff button and a fully legible yellow ear tag.  The Game Book appeared in the Steiff catalog from 1935 through 1937; this particular example is the property of a former Steiff assistant.  

And what makes this Game Book today's winning best seller? This page turner certainly meets the gold standard in terms of the WOW factor...  it is so rare, unusual, and in relatively good condition given its age and raison d'être.  And, in all honesty, Steiffgal didn't even realize such an item ever existed in the line before reading about it in the Teddy Dorado catalog, and it's pretty hard to "stump the chump."  Don't you think it would be a divine addition to Steiffgal's library and archive? 

Steiffgal hopes this sneak peek at highlights from the upcoming Teddy Dorado auction has you going once, going twice, going three times to check out their other amazing offerings at
 Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, family or otherwise? Let's talk! Click here to learn more. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

All Smiles When It Comes To These Silly Steiff Sweethearts

Over time, Steiff products have been described as authentic, realistic, high quality, friends for life, and other superlatives.  But how about "silly?"  Yes, just plain goofy.   The kind of thing that can't help but put you in a better mood, even if you are having a terrible day!  Take a look at these three treasures which couldn't possibly be designed for anything else but smiles!

You can't help but have a ball when this pretty kitty's in the house.  Here we have Steiff's Ball Katze Sulla or Ball Cat Sulla.  Sulla's body is extremely rounded, that is why she is called a "ball cat." Sulla is 16 cm, sitting, and made primarily from dralon.  She has a jointed head, front facing limbs, and a squeaker. Her face is detailed with oversized green and black slit pupil eyes and a pink hand embroidered nose.  Her feet pads have been stenciled with black paw prints. Sulla was only produced in this size from 1960 through 1961; at the same time the company also produced a pug and rabbit model based on this playful ball design.  Overall, Sulla and her companions are relatively hard to find, especially in good condition—because they were designed to be used as playthings and stuffed with foam, which deteriorates over time. 

And what makes Sulla so silly? First of all, check out her proportions; her head is almost as big as her body, giving her a rather adorable cartoonish look.  And second, well,  Steiffgal just needs to get this off of her chest. Check out Sulla's torso.  She's got a quarter-sized round patch of mohair right on her upper carriage, as do all of Steiff's ball animals.  Why?  Steiffgal thinks this gives Sulla a rather 1970's "disco" feel to her... even though she was made a decade before!

Our next silly sweetheart has a leg up - or four - on the happiness scale.  Here we have Steiff's Lulac Esel or Lulac donkey.  This farm friend is 35 cm, unjointed, and made primarily from grey mohair.  His face is detailed with shiny black eyes, an open felt lined mouth, and pert ears highlighted with black around their edges.  His forehead and jowls are made from slightly longer, shaggier mohair, to give these areas a bit more definition. Esel has a grey felt tail that is finished with a tuft of long black mohair.  His pawpads are made from black felt, and his hooves are airbrushed in black.  Lulac is standing, sort of, as his limbs are super long and floppy.  Lulac Donkey was only produced in this size from 1960 through 1961.

Many collectors are familiar with Steiff’s cartoonish “lulac” creatures—animals with exaggeratedly long limbs and torsos. The German verb “to laugh” is lachen, and the word for smile is Lächeln; suggesting that this style was designed to have a goofy appearance and to bring a smile to the face of the owner. The first lulac animal, a rabbit, appeared in 1952, and is still being produced in modified form today. A large menagerie of species have been produced in the lulac style over the years, including frogs, dogs, tigers, and cats.

And what makes this donkey the laughing stock (in a good way!!!) of the barnyard?  Like Ball Sulla, his proportions are just plain silly.  His legs are so long that he could be the next great supermodel.  And, Steiffgal is certain that both Democrats and Republicans can agree he has a face and expression only a mother could love!  

Please don't feel henpecked with this last example of Steiff's silliness.  Here we have Steiff's Floppy Huhn or Floppy hen.  This shut-eye sweetie is 17 cm, sitting, and unjointed.  She is made from tan mohair that has been gloriously hand airbrushed with a yellow and pink cast, and then highlighted with brown dots and lines to represent feathers.  Her wings and tail are stretched out towards the back of her body.  Her face is detailed with a red felt waddle and comb and a peach felt face and beak.  Her closed eyes are indicated by little black stitches.   Floppy hen was produced in 17 and 28 cm from 1958 through 1962.

This hen is part of a long series of Steiff's beloved “sleeping” style animals produced in the 1950 through 1970 time frame.  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. Each animal “sleeping eyes” as a key part of their designs. All of these delightful bedtime companions were simplified versions of well-known Steiff animal designs - including this hen!

No need to shake a tail feather to see the humor in this happy hen!  Perhaps the biggest question of all is WHY did the company make a sleeping hen at all... given dozing poultry isn't top of mind when it comes to children's bedtime companions!  And, hens don't actually sleep with their wings and tail feathers splayed outward, so her body position doesn't really make any realistic sense either.  But, it's safe to say that this fine feathered friend - who in reality is rarer than hen's teeth - rules the roost in her silliness.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of Steiff's comical collectibles has put you in a jolly mood today!

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Purr-fect Example Of a 1920's-era Steiff Cat

Now that's one pretty kitty!  Steiffgal recently had the pleasure of meeting a spectacular early Steiff cat.  Her details and design simply took her breath away.  Take a look at this early Steiff sitting sweetheart and see what makes her so special from the design and collector's perspectives.

It's easy to color your world with this lovely 1920's era Steiff cat.  Her name is Fluffy, and she was introduced in 1926. Fluffy is sitting, unjointed, and made in part from bluish tipped mohair, which is just spectacular. Her little tail wraps sweetly around her body. Fluffy's face is detailed with large deep turquoise green and black pupil eyes and a simple hand embroidered pink nose and mouth. This pink stitching may have been some restoration work, but accurately reflects the size and shape of her original features. Her claws are also embroidered in red. This kitty retains her 8mm trailing "f" Steiff button and bits of her red ear tag.  

Talk about the cat's meow!  Fluffy was such a favorite that she was produced in nine standard sizes, as well as on a pincushion, as a music box, and as a tail turns head model. Fluffy appeared in the line through 1950. Her design was slowly replaced by Susi, another favorite sitting style cat, who was a line standard through 1978.

Fluffy has details that quite typical of other products Steiff created during "the roaring 20's" - or in this case, the "meowing 20's!  Items designed and produced during this decade tended to have large, childlike eyes; bright colors or details, playful textures, and a distinctly feminine touch to them.   Perfect examples of this include Steiff's Molly the Puppy (introduced in 1925), Teddy Rose (introduced in 1925), Teddy Clown (introduced in 1926), Charly the King Charles Spaniel (introduced in 1928) and Bully the Bulldog (introduced in 1927). All also had collars or ribbons, adding to their festive presentation. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Fluffy has been the cat's meow for you.

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