Friday, February 26, 2016

Is This The Steiff Spring Hare-binger We've All Been Waiting For?

Are you looking for a "hare-binger" that a welcome change of season is slowly on its way?  Steiffgal certainly is!  As such, she couldn't be more delighted to receive this inquiry about one of spring's favorite sons. So hop to it and check out this interesting note that Steiffgal just received from a new Steiff friend from the United Kingdom.  Andrea from Reading, Berkshire writes...

"Hi Steiffgal,

I brought this for my son a few years ago from a charity shop and recently found it in the loft.
Please can you clarify that this is an original Steiff product and how much the value of it would be worth as it matches all the descriptions on your website?

Thank you, Andrea."

For the record... it is Steiffgal's best guess, based on the pictures provided, that this indeed is a Steiff "Record Rabbit."  Steiff's "record" style animals are those that are mounted on a wheeled metal chassis (sometimes called "Irish mail carts") and appear to move back and forth as they are pulled along... giving the impression that they are the ones powering the vehicle!  This is different than most other Steiff items on wheels, which remain entirely stationary as the tires rotate.  Steiff's debut "record" animal was the now famous Jocko the Chimpanzee, who was produced "record style" in 10, 15, 29, 25, and 30 cm in brown or white mohair from 1912 through 1943 overall.  You can see an early version of this record primate here on the left.

Now let's race back to the rabbit under discussion today.  This happy hopper is 25 cm, fully jointed, and made from mohair.  He has long floppy ears, oversized and expressive black and brown pupil eyes, and a hand embroidered nose.  His smiling, open mouth is lined in peach colored felt.   This item was produced postwar in this size only from 1949 through 1964. His features, including his facial detailing and distinctive mouth, are quite similar to the company's beloved, fully jointed Niki Rabbit pattern.  Niki appeared in the Steiff line in 14, 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm from 1951 thorough 1964.

Steiff's postwar Record Rabbit's design is based on a prewar carriage riding bunny, also named Record Rabbit.  This prewar rabbit is also 25 cm, fully jointed, and made from mohair.  However, the prewar version of this pattern has a few very subtle differences between it and the postwar version.  For example, the postwar version has an open mouth; the prewar version has a closed mouth.  The postwar version has a rounder, "toddler" appearance; the prewar version is more curvy and angular.  And the postwar version has broad, felt padded feet; the prewar version has extremely thin, padless feet. The prewar version appeared in the line form 1926 through 1943; a photo of him appears on the left.  

Rolling right along, its time to answer the dreaded valuation question. As always, something is "worth" what someone will pay for it.  Steiffgal has not seen this item firsthand, and cannot check for condition issues that do not appear on these photos, such as weak areas, odors, rot, thinning, excessive playwear, possible restoration, presence (or absence) of IDs, etc.  On the upside, this 14 carrot cutie looks to be in good to very good condition, with minimal losses on the wheels.  Steiffgal even spots a few of his original monofilament whiskers!  Given all that, it is Steiffgal's best guesstimate that he may sell on an online channel like eBay in the $150-250 range.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Andrea's postwar record rabbit has put a nice spin to your day.

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fun Finds And Unusual Rarities At The Upcoming March 2016 Teddy Dorado Auction!

Continuing on with our focus on upcoming Steiff sales events, Steiffgal is thrilled to present the Steiff community with highlights from the upcoming Teddy Dorado auction.  This can't miss event will be held on March 5th, 2016 in Germany.  One thing Steiffgal particularly loves about Teddy Dorado is the company's ability to find and sell the most interesting rarities and one of a kind Steiff finds.  Here are three great highlight items from this sale that really caught her eye.  

Please take a leap of faith with Steiffgal on this first Teddy Dorado auction highlight. Here we have lot 17-1705, a 60 cm "Schlenker frog" or dangling frog. He is cataloged as...

"From about 1981, with all IDs and article number 2380/60. Made from green and orange trevira velvet. Large, yellow and black eyes, open mouth. Posable with wire reinforced limbs. Firmly stuffed with poly fiberfill, no voice. With yellow Steiff flag in the left foot and chest tag. Not seen in any catalog or publication. Clean, non-faded, no odors, top condition. Standing about 83 cm tall and sitting about 42 cm tall."

It's easy being green when it comes to this giant uncataloged frog! His size and presentation are truly impressive. His wonderful long arms and legs are perfect proportions for a "lulac" style animal. And who wouldn't want a "one of a kind" Steiff treasure such as this one? It is Steiffgal's best guess that this happy hopper may have been made as a special feature for a customized window display, or that he was a sample of an idea that never made it into full production. It is also possible that his design was based on an "uber" vision of the company's 32 cm standard line Cappy Dangling Frog. Cappy is also lulac styled with long arms and legs which are lined in wire so he can be posed. Cappy was in the Steiff line from 1979 through 1984. He is pictured here on the left for comparison. 

This second auction highlight will bug some readers, but there is a good reason for his selection.  Please check out lot 17-1608,  a cosy fly.  Yes, a fly.  He is cataloged as...

"A 20 cm Cosy Flappy fly made in 1994 with all IDs and additional hang tags.  The article number is 099588. He is unjointed and in top condition.  He is made from russet fleece, black woven fur, white fur, and blue trevira velvet that has a honeycomb print on it.  Detailed with black cord on the face.  Softly stuffed with poly fiberfill.  About 10 cm tall and 20 cm long."

No need to wing it here... this little guy is one big Steiff deal!  Believe it or not, this funky fly, despite his relative newness, is on the wish list of many collectors due to his rarity and strangeness.  Back in 2009, Steiffgal awarded this pattern the grand prize winner of a Steiff "What Were They Thinking" contest - a countdown of Steiffgal's top choices for the oddest Steiff designs.  Flappy was only produced in 1994 and came in five colors: red, yellow, green, blue, and brown. This model is the brown model. Steiffgal has the green version, he is pictured here on the left.  Steiffgal once gave a red Flappy to a friend as a birthday gift; in disbelief he exclaimed that the fly would forever be his favorite Steiff collectible of all time.

Size defies with today's third auction highlight.  Here we have lot 17-5003, a little hedgehog clip.  He is cataloged as...

"A 6 cm tip clip premium hedgehog made in 1979-1985.  The article number is 1671/06. Made as a brooch or decoration.  The face, ears, ears, and underside are made of brown trevira velvet.  He has black plastic eyes and a black glass bead nose.  The clip is on his back. He has a special yellow and green Steiff linen tag imprinted with his article number and "FFSPN - Fédération Française of the Societes de protection de la nature."  It is very clean and in top condition.  He measures approximately 6 cm long and 4.5 cm wide."

There's no need to hedge any bets here that this baby hedgehog is a "customer special" for The National Society of Nature Protection, a French nonprofit which "aims to implement educational activities and nature protection in France but also in the world." This sweet treat is based on Steiff's standard line 6 cm Joggi Igel or Joggi Hedgehog. Joggi was manufactured in 6, 10, and 17 cm from 1966 through 2002. The original 6 cm Joggi is pictured here on the left. 

A customer special is an item that is embellished with an unusual custom ribbon, a felt accessory, a unique tag, or other small differentiators. In the case of this hedgehog, the standard yellow and black tag was replaced with a green and white tag, and a clip was added. In the past, Steiff did not necessarily separately catalog customer specials. These finds are exciting, as well as frustrating, to collectors, who always want to know the full story behind unusual Steiff items. It is Steiffgal's best guess that this item was produced for NSNP as a gift for the organization's staff, donors, or volunteers; made as a give-away for a trade show or conference; or was available for purchase directly from NSNP to help support the organization.  NSNP's current logo is here on the left.  It is interesting to note it now features a ladybug... which would also make for a great Steiff customer special pin!

Steiffgal hopes this review of some of these hot lots available at the upcoming Teddy Dorado sale has given you auction fever!  You can view the entire auction catalog by clicking here. 

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

Friday, February 12, 2016

Old And New Steiff Treasures On Offer At The Upcoming Morphy Auctions' Premier Toy Sale!

It's the most wonderful time to be a Steiff collector - especially if you are looking to add rare and wonderful treats to your growing Steiff hug. Auction season is truly upon us all! Last week Steiffgal shared some highlights with you from an upcoming auction in Germany. Today, let's cross the pond back to the US to check out an upcoming auction a little closer to home that also features a number of wonderful Steiff treats. On March 4th and 5th, Morphy Auctions in Denver, PA is having a premier doll and toy sales event. And there's a few lots there that truly caught Steiffgal's eye. Come take a look, too!

This first Morphy Auction pick - an antique Steiff farmer - is quite the charmer! He is lot 722, and is cataloged as...  
"Here we have a Steiff figure in the form of an early 20th century farmer. Starting in 1909, Steiff made a series of fully jointed felt dolls representing farmers from regions around Germany as well as France and Switzerland. Each was authentically dressed in regional clothing. These appeared in the line overall through the 1920's. This example is 12-1/2" tall and is in all original, as found condition. His clothes are integral to his body. He retains his ear button as well as 9 decorative Steiff buttons on his vest. Unlike most Steiff dolls of his era, this one has a most unusual horizontal facial seam. Overall, he is in very good condition with uniform dustiness/soiling, most noticeable to his flesh colored face and hands. His black shoes have lost coloring. His right shoe shows distress and losses and is in need of some attention and repair. However, his felt soles are intact and just lightly soiled. Auction estimate: $1,000-2,000."

In addition to his charming looks and personality, this delightful antique doll comes with a robust provenance. According to the consignor, 

"In 1950, when I was about 13, my friend's family was the last tenant to move out of their apartment building which was scheduled to be torn down. After the truck was packed, we explored the empty building. In the attic, we found empty whiskey bottles, clothing, a long auburn hair switch, a shorter blond switch, a porcelain figure of a boy, and this doll.

At that time, I didn't know the significance of Steiff. He was so unusual and fit in with my German heritage. I fell in love with him and had him in my room until I went away to college. When I married, he moved from my mother's home to my new home. I took him to a doll repair shop, trying to find out more about him. The owner found him in a doll book, where I learned that he was first produced in 1909, and at that time he had a value of $848.

To protect him, I made a shadow box from a picture frame. I wired him securely in the box, where he hung on the wall of my home. It is time someone else has the pleasure of getting to know him. I hope he will bring his new owner as much pleasure as he has brought me the last 65 years."

Steiffgal definitely has a plush-crush on this funny felt fellow! Based on his appearance and time frame, he is a great example of Steiff's early character dolls which were sometimes referred to as "Karikaturpuppen."  These dolls had exaggerated proportions (like really long feet, huge hands, very round or very narrow faces, and extremely skinny or quite rotund body shapes) and very playful personalities.  These dolls were prominent in the line through the early 19-teens, when they were slowly replaced by Steiff dolls with more lifelike and/or childlike proportions and appearances. 

This second auction highlight at Morphy's is as welcome as a bouquet of tulips in springtime.  Here we have lot 696, Steiff's Flowers Bear.  She is cataloged as...

"Flowers" was the first in the series of innovative designs produced exclusively for Steiff Club members starting in 2004. These selections were called "Margarete Steiff Editions" and were available for purchase only through the luck of a draw. 500 Flowers bears were produced, with the number of applicants worldwide eclipsing this many times over. Flowers is 33 cm, fully jointed, and made from white mohair that is embroidered with colorful floral motifs overall. She has black button eyes, a red hand embroidered nose and mouth, white felt paw pads, and blue claw stitching. Flowers has a special ear button and a black and silver tag sewn into her side seam as her IDs. This example is number 117/500, and comes complete with her original literature, which is personalized to her first owner, and a special edition box. This is only the second "Flowers" edition that this cataloger has seen at auction in the last decade, and unquestionably the most sought after 21st century Steiff edition today. Condition: As detailed. In excellent to like new condition. Auction estimate: $500-1,000" 

There's no need to soft pedal why this bear is so amazing!  Steiffgal was the US Steiff Club Manager in 2004 when Flowers became available to club members.  The response to this cub was overwhelming, and Steiffgal fielded dozens of phonecalls each day about the bear and the process for winning one.  It seemed at the time club members were willing to get into a fist fight to acquire one!  Steiff came out with a series of innovative Margarete Steiff club bears over time, but none came close to the inherent quality and design of this first one. Everything about this bear is magical, from her practically handmade fabric, to her classic design, to her unique button and tag, to her presentation and packaging.  Because of her design integrity and authenticity, Steiffgal would pick Flowers as the one bear in recent memory that would fit in equally as well in collections that focus on new or vintage Steiff treasures.

It's up, up, and away with this final auction highlight under review today.  Here we have one of Steiffgal's most favorite editions from the early 1990's - Amelia the pilot.  She is one of two bears featured in lot 698, which is cataloged as...

"This lot includes two Steiff limited edition bears that are seldom seen on the secondary market. The first is Hercule, who was produced for the World Association of Children's Friends (AMADE), founded by Princess Grace of Monaco in 1963. This social service organization advocates for children's rights worldwide. Hercule is 28 cm, fully jointed, and made from soft mohair. He wears a gold plated medallion, featuring the logos of both Steiff and AMADE, suspended from his green silken ribbon. Hercule has a particularly sweet, childlike appearance. This design was produced in 1995 in an edition size of 3,000; this example is number 1365. The second item is Steiff's Amelia Earhart bear. She is 35 cm, fully joined, and made from rose-colored mohair. This design was produced overall in an edition size of 1,000 pieces in 1993; of those, 650 were dressed in an authentic, high quality leather pilot outfit for the high end department store I. Magnin & Company; the remaining 350 were detailed with a simple neck ruff. Condition: As detailed. Both editions are complete with all IDs, original packaging, paperwork, and documentation. In excellent to like new condition. Auction estimate: $400-600."

Both Hercule and Amelia are a dynamic duo who are seldom seen on the secondary collector's market.  Amelia is particularly collectible and rare, and gets Steiffgal's vote as the most appealing dressed Steiff bear from the last three decades. Her rose color and lanky frame are quite feminine, and a striking complement to her brown, rugged pilots outfit.  Her outfit takes flight with leather trimmed goggles, a buckled flight hat, a white silk scarf with trim, and a bomber-style jacket detailed brown fur trim, two front pockets, and a zipper and snap front. She even has a tiny golden I. Magnin flight style pin on her collar. Like many early special Steiff items from the 80's and early '90's , she is not numbered, but is designated as a "collector's edition" noted on her special chest tag and ear tag.  She is the only edition ever produced for I. Magnin, which has since been absorbed by the Macy's chain of department stores.   

Steiffgal hopes this review of some of the fine Steiff items up for sale at Morphy's in the next few weeks has generated "lots" of interest with you!  You can 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. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

"Lots" Of Outstanding Steiff Treasures Up For Sale At The Upcoming Steiff Sonder-Auktion On February 19th!

February unquestionably is a short, dark, and cold month. But a number of fantastic auctions starting mid-month should really heat things up for collectors. Over the next few weeks, Steiffgal will present highlights from three upcoming world-class Steiff-centric sales events that should be on the calendar of every enthusiast. Let's start with the "Steiff Sonder-Auktion" at Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion. This exclusively Steiff sale will be held on February 19th, 2016 in Germany. 

The items for sale at this upcoming auction are simply amazing, and read like a "who's who" of the most sought after Steiff rarities.  So it is all but impossible to pick out three highlights as each item is outstanding in its own way.  So Steiffgal will share three selections that simply catch her eye - as well as call to her heart. 

It's hard not to notice lot 1339, a standing Steiff Putzi. He is cataloged as... 

"Putzi, dog caricature, produced between 1932 - 1935, wool plush, white, attending, with button in ear, long stretched F, used condition, swivel head, very rare, unusual." 

This adorable character was produced in 17, 22, and 28 cm and was modeled on the well known "Putzi" comic strip of the time.  His chest tag reads, "I am Putzi, of the TAZ." TAZ is the name of a German newspaper publisher. According to Steiff records, a total of 2,542 Putzi dogs were manufactured overall. This is only the second one Steiffgal has ever seen come up for sale on the secondary market.

In addition to his playful presentation, Putzi has two interesting design features.  The first is his glass nose.  Of course, it is not unusual for Steiff items to have glass eyes.  But this is only one of a handful of items Steiffgal has come across that features a glass nose.  A few of the company's early 1950-era poodles also have this distinctive facial detail.  The second feature has been lost to time on this Putzi, but is important to note nonetheless. Every Putzi dog that left the Giengen factory had distinctive eyebrows placed high on his forehead. This was done to mirror Putzi's appearance in print. 

It's time to roll forward to Steiffgal's second auction pick.  It would be hard to outfox lot 1381, a charming fox on wheels.  He is cataloged as... 

"fox on excenter-wheels, c. 1925, with button, long stretched F, height 14 cm, length 20 cm, copper-colored mohair, at single places with slight mohair loss, otherwise good condition."   

This field and forest favorite was produced in 14, 17, and 22 cm on eccentric wooden wheel from 1915 through 1933.  

Admit it, you also have a plush-crush on this fantastic fox.  His outstanding, vibrant copper coloring makes perfect cents in bringing him to life. And it's impossible to resist his "Teddy bear" style face, black mohair detailed ears, and charming presentation. 
Steiffgal's third pick may just surprise you - but remember, sometimes less is more!  Have a ball and check out lot 1456.  This simple lot of two cats is cataloged as...

"2 cats, sitting, 1x pre-war era, with button, 1x without button, ear damaged, 10 cm, otherwise good condition."

This "hidden gem" duo consists of what appears to be a sweet, well loved mid-century Susi cat plus a most unusual Steiff "Ball Cat."  The Ball Cat, which has a distinctive, simple, rounded body shape, was produced in 9 and 15 cm from 1934 though 1943 overall. 
Let's get around to discussing what makes the Ball Cat such a find.  Steiff made a series of small "ball" style animals starting in the early 1930's.  These included a lion (1934 to 1935), Teddy (1935 to 1940), Chin-Chin (1932 to 1935), Molly (1934 to 1935), rabbit (1932 to 1943), duck (1932 to 1943), and elephant (1932 to 1940).  All were simple versions of popular line items; many, like the cat, had pom-pom front limbs. What's amazing about these items is that any survived at all given they were made to fit in the palm of a child's hand and designed as toys for youngsters! As such, examples in good condition seldom, if ever, appear on the secondary market. A not so good example of the Ball Lion from Steiffgal's collection is pictured here on the left.

This is the first time Steiffgal has featured auction selections from Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion in this blog. As such, here's a little interview with the company's owner and auctioneer.

Steiffgal:  Tell a little bit about yourself and responsibilities at Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion.

Mr. Seidel:  My name is Götz C. Seidel. I am the owner of Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion. My responsibilities include describing the items, customer contact and service, and running our auctions and business along with my daughter and son-in-law.

Steiffgal:  Tell us about your auction house and its history. How long has the company been in business? What type of things does the company sell? How many does the company have per year?  

Mr. Seidel: We are a family company and have been in business since 1989. We sell historical toys and important items ranging from the Biedermeyer-time (an era in Central Europe between 1815 and 1848 when the arts and decorative items had wide appeal) to the greater 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century.  These would include things like tin toys, trains, traditional German folk art items, Christmas decorations, Steiff animals and bears, doll houses and furniture, and dolls.  We have four main auctions, plus several specialty auctions, per year.     

Steiffgal:  Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's upcoming Steiff auction has many remarkable treasures. Are they from one collection, or from several consignors?

Mr. Seidel: Many of the fine consignments are from one person, who wishes to remain anonymous.  This person inherited the collection from a relative who authored several books on Steiff.  

Steiffgal:  In your opinion, what is the most special item in the auction? What is your favorite lot in the auction? 

Mr. Seidel:  For me there are two.  The first is lot 1369, the baby Mimocculo orangutan with movable eyes, and the second is lot 1170, a charming white Teddy bear with his original white ear tag. (Both of these outstanding sections are pictured here on the left.)

Steiffgal:  Are there any items in Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's upcoming auction that were new to you or your team - things that you had never seen before? 

Mr. Seidel:  Oh yes!  Lot 1398, the "Krinoline" coffee warmer was new to all of us!  She is cataloged as...""Krinoline" coffee warmer, felt, multicolored, standing, arms and head are movable, for warming coffee- or teapots, thick felt lining, item description "KR 43", exceptional inset eyes, shiny button, wool hair, color is faded, 43 cm, produced between 1908 - 1912, rare." (This amazing rarity is pictured here on the left.)

Steiffgal:  Wow, I had never seen her before, either!  One last question for you.  If your auction house could sell any Steiff piece ever created, which one would that be and why?

Mr. Seidel:  Margarete Steiff's
elephant pincushion, of course.  That's because it's the most historical Steiff object of all. 

Steiffgal:  Thank you so much for your time, and best of luck at this sales event!  Readers, you can participate online in this auction through LiveAuctioneers.  For more information, click here!

Steiffgal hopes this Steiff related discussion and interview has been the highlight of your day.
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.
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