Friday, November 27, 2015

Buttoning Up Your Steiff Holiday Wish List With Highlights From Morphy's December 2015 Toy Auction

Is your Steiff holiday wish list buttoned up yet? Well, if you need a few ideas, look no further than Morphy Auctions' upcoming Premier Toy & Advertising Sale, which will be held December 18th-20th, 2015.  This great event features over 40 top tier button-in-ear treasures representing a full spectrum of Steiff categories and price points.   It will probably come as no surprise that Steiffgal's got a plush-crush on most of these lovely lots.  Here's a few that really caught her eye... and why!

Morphy's Lot #112
Well, hello Dolly... or in this case, Dollies!  Check out lot #112, a "Pair of Exquisite Steiff Dolls in Bavarian Clothes."  This charming couple is cataloged as... 
"This wonderful pair consists of Anton the boy and Lisl the girl. Both are approximately 35cm tall, fully jointed, and made from felt and linen. Anton has honey blond mohair hair and black shoebutton eyes. He wears a white cotton shirt, black felt lederhosen-style shorts with green suspenders, a felt Tyrolean jacket with leather buttons (one missing), and woolen socks. Lisl has blonde mohair hair that has darkened over time and stunning cobalt and black pupil eyes. She wears a white cotton shirt and apron which have darkened over time, a black calico and felt dirndl with beaded decorations, a colorful neck scarf, and tall socks. As is typical to Steiff dolls of the period, both are wearing hats and handmade shoes. Both dolls appeared in the Steiff line from 1909 to 1927 in 28, 35, 43, 50, and 60cm; Lisl was also produced in a 75cm in 1912 only. Anton's black eyes suggest he was produced earlier than Lisl. Both doll's IDs have been lost to time. Both dolls have charming, youthful faces and present beautifully together. Auction estimate:  $2,000 - 3,000."

Similar Steiff Dolls At The UFDC Museum, Kansas City
And what makes these two so dolly delightful from the collector's vantage point?  Their incredibly dear looks, larger size, lovely condition, and traditional German attire. Anton and Lisl are picture-perfect examples of Steiff's "Children" style dolls, which appeared in the line from 1909 through the late 1920's.  Unlike earlier Steiff dolls that were more caricatured, harsh, and designed for adult collectors, these dolls were realistically proportioned, had gentle personalities, and angelic, rosy faces.  They truly were designed for child's fun and play.  These models were all fully jointed and had felt heads and bodies - except right around WWI when felt was scarce and the bodies were sometimes made from rough cotton or linen type materials. All of these dolls were dressed head to toe in handmade clothing that included school uniforms, ethnic costumes, sporting attire, and “Sunday best." 

It is very interesting to note that the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC), the world's largest and best known doll collecting organization, features a pair of Steiff dolls very similar to Anton and Lisl in their outstanding doll museum, located in Kansas City, MO.  This pair from the UFDC museum is pictured above on the left on doll stands. 

Morphy's Lot #268
The next Steiff Morphy Auctions' highlight will absolutely give you the warm and fuzzies... in a very big way indeed! Here we have lot 268, an early postwar white Steiff Teddy bear.  This beautiful bruin is cataloged as... 

"A wonderful example of a 20-1/2" tall mid-century Steiff bear with glass eyes in what appears to be in unplayed with all original condition. This original "Teddy", circa 1948, has a block button, working growler within his chest, vibrant white coloring & even his felt pads are bright showing no discoloration/wear/loss. A knockout Steiff and certainly a fine addition to any bear and/or Steiff collection! Auction estimate:  $1,500. - 2,500."

Steiff Block Button Example
And what makes this terrific Ted so special from the collector's point of view? Well, here Steiffgal has to say, "Be still my heart!" This bear's size, coloring, classic appearance, condition, and that little detail called his "block letter" button make him a universal celebrity. This "block letter" button is really desirable, and means that the word "Steiff" appears in all capital letters. This button was only used on items from around 1947 through 1952, and is extremely rare. As a matter of fact, Steiffgal only has four or five items with this button amongst her collection of 1,000+ vintage items, including a transitional (i.e., pre- to post war) period squirrel.  This same block letter button from Steiffgal's squirrel is pictured here on the left. 

Morphy's Lot #120
This third Morphy Auction Steiff highlight is a charm, in so many ways.  Here we have lot #120, Steiff's smallest pre-war begging rabbit with a tail moves head mechanism.  This petite treat is cataloged as...  

"This 9 cm rabbit is an extremely rare version of the Steiff's collectible tail-moves-head novelties from the 1930's. She is unjointed, excelsior stuffed, and begging. Her body is made tan colored mohair that has overall light losses consistent with age. Her tiny face is detailed with brown and black glass pupil eyes, a simple red hand embroidered nose and mouth, and a few remaining clear monofilament whisker. Her tail-moves-head mechanism is in perfect working order. Rabbit has her trailing "f" button and slight traces of her red ear tag as her Steiff IDs. This pattern was produced in 11, 15, 18, 23, 29, and 36 cm from 1931-1938. Auction estimate:  $500-1,000."

And what makes this head turner so special from the collector's perspective? This rabbit manages to get a lot of great into a small package for sure.  Her size, presentation, rarity, and mechanical movements make her one honey bunny.  Steiff's tail moves head models are among the company's most beloved and sought after treasures.  These early "action super heroes" of the 1930's included cats, dogs, goats, and lambs, among others.  For the most part, each was based on standard line popular designs of the time, and left the factory with a round cardboard tag on its tail that read "turn here and I will move my head." Tail turns head items were considered higher end, luxury toys, and most were produced through the late 1930's. 

A Copy Of Patsy Ziemer's Book
In addition, this rabbit has a fantastic and fully documented provenance.  It was consigned from its original owners, the family of the late Patsy Ziemer. Patsy and her family escaped from Nazi Germany and came to America in 1939. Once in the US, twelve year old Patsy and her father authored the best selling book, Two Thousand And Ten Days of Hitler, which described her life in pre-war Germany.  You can see an original copy of this book pictured here on the left.  Copies of family documents, including more information on Patsy's amazing and accomplished life, are included with this rabbit (and other items for sale at Morphy's from this family's collection.)

Steiffgal hopes this preview of highlights from Morphy's December, 2015 Premier Toy Auction has put you in a playful and holiday mood.  

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