Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ringing In The Holidays With A Very Special And Early Steiff Lamb

'Tis the season of bells. It seems like sleigh bells, the bells rung by the Salvation Army volunteers manning red donation kettles, and the ubiquitous "Jingle Bells" song on the radio are top of mind with everyone as we celebrate this special time of year. For Steiffgal, the holidays came a few days early with another bell related treat - a precious and early Steiff lamb with full provenance. Check out this charming barnyard buddy and see what makes her so special from several perspectives.

It's easy to jingle all the way with this adorable little lamb. What we have here is Steiff's Lamm or Lamb. She is standing, unjointed, stuffed with excelsior, and made from lamb's wool plush. Lamb's wool plush has a marvelous, "lumpy-bumpy" texture to it, much like that of a real lamb. Although her design is relatively simple, she has wonderful and angular back legs and perfectly lifelike proportions. Her face is detailed with green and black slit pupil style glass eyes, a red hand embroidered red nose an mouth, and a touch of pink airbrushing on her eyes and muzzle. Her ribbon and bell are original. This pre-WW2 design was made in 14, 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1928 through 1943. This basic design in this wonderful material was also produced in a lying position, on wheels, as a music box, and as a ride on animal.

Steiffgal was fortunate enough to win this great example at the recent Morphy Auctions' Toy Auction Sale on December 18, 2015. This lovely lamb really called to her as she already had the 22 cm version of this pattern. And, as all collectors know, you can never have enough of a good thing! The happy duo are pictured together here on the left. They have almost identical ribbons and bells. Isn't their resemblance uncanny?

One of the things that makes this example so special is that it came with full provenance. Lamb is from the estate of Patsy Ziemer. She was given to Patsy on her first birthday by a family friend who also gave her a pair of felt slippers at the same time.  You can see this documented in her baby book - a page of which is pictured here on the left. According to her family, "Patsy was born Patricia Erica Lyon in the Philippine Islands on October 20, 1927. She had ancestors dating back to nobility in Germany as early as 1110. Her parents were American Civil Service teachers living in the Philippine Islands when she was born. They moved to Germany in 1928 where they established and managed the American School in Berlin. Her parents were active in pre-war Berlin society and observed first-hand the development of the Nazi party. They barely escaped from Germany as hostilities heated up in 1939. Shortly after arriving in Lake City, Minnesota at the age of 12, Patsy wrote the book Two Thousand and Ten Days of Hitler with her father’s coaching. It described her experiences in pre-war Germany, became a best seller in New York, and was published in many languages."  

To honor Patsy and her memory, Steiffgal has named this lovely lamb "Patsy."

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Patsy's sweet sheep has really rung a bell with you.

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

Saturday, December 12, 2015

All I Want For Christmas Is...

Perhaps you know the expression, "Good things come in threes." In the Steiff world, that just might refer to a great find complete with its button, ear tag, and chest tag. Or Gucki, Pucki, and Lucki, the trio of beloved gnomes from the 1950's. For Steiffgal, today it is also the number of items from the upcoming December, 2015 Morphy Auctions toy sale she has just added to her holiday wish list. Check out these three lovely lots and see what makes them so interesting from the collector's perspectives.

Lot 268
Will you be my Teddy bear? Steiffgal bets that's the question on many collector's minds in regards to this first outstanding item. Here we have lot 268, which is called, "1940's Steiff White Bear." It is cataloged as... 

"A wonderful example of a 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! Size 20-1/2'' L."

Shield shaped nose
And just what makes this Ted so unbearably appealing? The list is as long as the one in Santa's hands right about now! Collectors will recognize this bear as a remarkable example of Steiff's early post war "Original Teddy." This bear was produced overall from about 1950-1966 in blonde, caramel, brown, and white in 14 sizes ranging from 10-100 cm. This early post war bear pattern featured the new square-ish, shield shape nose on cubs 18 cm and over.  (An example of this nose stitching pattern is featured here on the left.)  Although Steiffgal has not seen him firsthand, this particular example appears to be in just about tissue-new condition. His white mohair is brilliantly clean and full, and his pads look pristine. His size is most impressive and probably correlates to the 50 cm version. And it's hip to be square with his block style button. This rare ID, used on Steiff editions from about 1948-1952, is considered amongst the most desirable with collectors worldwide. 
Lot 258
Steiffgal is just quackers over this next auction pick. Here we have lot 258, which is called "Unusual Prewar Steiff Duck With ID." It is cataloged as...  

"A charming example of Steiff's early and seldom seen standing and unjointed 22 cm "Play Duck." His excelsior-stuffed body is made from light yellow wool plush that has very light losses consistent with age. He comes to life with yellow felt webbed feet, an open, smiling, dimensional beak, a touch of airbrush highlighting, red felt backed black button eyes, and a pom-pom (similar in look and feel to the company's woolen miniatures) as his crown. His small playful wings angle backwards; one has a very small home repair on the inside fold. Duck retains his trailing "f" button and traces of his red tag as his Steiff IDs. Play Duck was produced in this size only from 1933-1943; this particular example was made in the earliest part of that time frame. Condition: As noted. Duck is in very good condition overall. Provenance: From the Patsy Ziemer Collection; this item comes with copies of the Ziemer family history."

Other pre-war ducks
Bird's the word when it comes to Steiff's delightful early ducks. Ducks are a legacy pattern for Steiff, with felt ducks appearing in the company's debut catalog of 1892. It has been Steiffgal's observation that for the most part, Steiff's prewar ducks have always had a more playful than realistic look to them, with their typically oversized and prominent beaks and feet. They were the first animals placed on eccentric style wheels (so they waddled when pulled along), were often made in bright colors, and were sometimes produced wearing charming hats or jackets - adding to their appeal. (A great pair of late 1920's-era Steiff ducks is pictured here on the left for context.) This particular auction example under discussion today, with its irresistible presentation, nice condition, IDs, and "crowning glory" pom-pom, is seldom seen on the secondary market and is quite desirable. It would be a feather in anyone's cap to add this darling duck to their Steiff collection.

Lot 169
This last auction pick just may be on Santa's wish list, too! Here we have lot 169, which is called a Steiff Studio Elk. This big beast is cataloged as...  

"An amazing, almost life sized, mohair Steiff animal from the 1960's time period. These studio animals were quite expensive and often times were used as display pieces in various toy stores such as Strawbridge & Clothier, Lord & Taylor, F.A O. Schwarz etc. that sold Steiff animals, people, toys etc. This fellow is approx. 60" tall, his antlers slip into the head and due to age and original mounting process they droop a bit (resting onto his back) otherwise his overall height would probably be increased by at least another 8" - 10". In remarkable original "bright" condition with virtually no mohair loss, discoloration, wear, holes, etc.! Retains the typical script Steiff button in his ear. Size 60'' L."

Steiff display okapi
Oh deer! Who could resist this lifesized friend, especially around Christmas time? This display animal is technically a Rothirsch, or Red Stag. He was made in this size - 190 cm - in 1967 only. The heyday of Steiff's display animal production was in the 1960's, when the company made many more "common" lifesized animals (like giraffes, tigers, and donkeys), but also many "exotic" ones, like chamois bucks, kudus, and this stag. (A Steiff display okapi from the 1960's is pictured here on the left for comparison.) For the most part, display animals from this period were manufactured from mohair, stuffed with excelsior, had sturdy metal skeletons, and had extraordinary detailing - like the antlers on this stag. Some were produced for store displays; these were sometimes mechanized so that their heads would bob, their tails would move, or they would shake a limb or two. Others found their ways into private collections. Regardless of his previous life, this particular Red Stag would make any room feel like the holidays all year 'round today!

Steiffgal hopes this review of three top Steiff highlights from the upcoming Morphy Auctions sales event has been a triple-treat for you. Check out the entire auction catalog by clicking here.

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Take A Good Look At This Steiff Celebrity Cook!

Ah... every Steiff enthusiast knows the feeling. The one that got away! Steiffgal recently came across a most unusual vintage Steiff novelty that would have been a fantastic addition to her hug. This collectible chef doll was being offered at auction. Apparently there were too many cooks in the kitchen and as a result, he is off to another very lucky collector! Oh well, you can't win them all for sure. Nonetheless, let's take a look at this marvelous rarity and see what makes him truly worthy of three Michelin stars! 

Here we have Steiff's marvelous Maggi Fridolin. He is 13 cm, standing and made from rubber. He wears a very traditional chef's uniform including a toque blanche, scarf, white jacket, and checkered pants. His shoes are black and white felt. He appears to be in very nice condition and retains all of his IDs, including his Steiff chest tag, button, and fully legible yellow tag. His number "713" corresponds to 7= "in caricature" and 13= "13 cm" tall. Maggi Fridolin was made in this size only in 1958.  

And just what is is the "secret ingredient" behind this doll? This kitchen-keeper is the logo of the well known German food company Maggi. Maggi is best known for its production of seasonings, soups, and noodles, which are distributed and enjoyed globally. Its condiment sauce, referred to as "Maggi" is similar to soy sauce and is extremely popular in Europe, Asia, and South America. The company had its origins in Switzerland but set up shop in Singen, Germany in 1897 - where it is still located today. It was purchased by Nestle in 1947. Maggi's founder, Julius Maggi, was very interested in improving the food quality and health of working-class people. His business partner was a physician named Fridolin Schuler. The two worked together to create nutritionally inhanced foods, and later went on to "invent" healthy ready to eat soups and bouillon cubes, among other products.

Steiff put the rubber to the road in the 1950's with these sorts of rubber dolls based on popular brands, logos, or storybook characters of the time. This manufacturing technique was efficient and relatively low cost; however, over time, the rubber usually dried out and crumbled to pieces. This may help to explain why so few of these interesting examples are in existence today. Other rare examples from the Maggi doll's era include Larifari (a 32 cm doll based on a well known children's character, produced in 1955-1957); Gummibert (a 12 cm doll made for the Englebert tire company, produced in 1954); and Captain (a 17 or 28 cm doll made for the Northwest shoe company, produced from 1952-1957.)

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this great Maggi Fridolin doll has been a tasty treat for you.

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