Wednesday, January 30, 2019

And The Blue Ribbon For The Most Unusual Steiff Bully the Bulldog Goes To...

Are you looking for blues clues about a most unusual Steiff treasure? Then check out this fabulous - and fabulously rare - example of Steiff's beloved prewar Bully the Bulldog. There's no doubt he'd be top dog in anyone's Steiff canine kennel!

The sky's the limit with this outstanding blue and white Bully. He's sitting, head jointed, and made from velvet. His blue has oxidized to more of a green color since his "birthday" nine decades ago. You see this often with vintage materials and dye colors. (Check out where the sun doesn't shine - like armpits and crotches - to find areas untouched by time.) Like the Bully dogs of his era, he has large, metal lined, and poseable ears and patched construction. His face comes to life with oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, a hand embroidered nose, a few freckles, and an elaborately constructed and very detailed muzzle. Blue Bully retains his original horsehair collar and bell, as well as his long trailing "f" button as his ID. This bouncing bundle of joy was produced in 7, 10, 14, and 17 cm from 1927 through 1934 - and is only the second blue Bully Steiffgal has ever seen!

It is interesting to note that in the late 1920s through early 1930s, Steiff produced a number of animal and novelty patterns in fun, "jellybean" hues - both in mohair and velvet. These included rabbits, bears, dogs, pincushions, and other favorites. It is Steiffgal's best guess that these colorful critters were designed to match the mood and aesthetic of the "roaring 20s" and were produced not only as toys for children but as gifts and collectibles for adults. 

Small, unusually hued, prewar Steiff rarities with IDs and accessories like this only surface once in a blue moon - and always generate lots of dollars, and interest, at auction. For example, in 2016, an 8 cm version generated 12 bids and hammered at €2,400 (roughly $2,800) on its €330 - €660 (roughly $376 - $750) estimate. And why is that? Like most marketplace or economic situations, it has to do with supply and demand. For example, consider....

  • Petitely proportioned items are/were often a child's "best friend" and as such, were loved to death as playthings, or lost to time. So there are not alot of them in general still around. 
  • These small treasures span several collecting categories, including general antiques, Christmas items, dollhouse items, dolls, and Steiff. So many people are interested in them. 
  • They don't take up too much space in a collection.  So they are very desirable from the collection management and logistics perspectives, especially amongst more "seasoned" collectors. 
  • And they are simply just plain wonderful. Collectors seldom if ever tire of them, and very rarely sell them unless they absolutely have to.
Steiffgal hopes you've enjoyed learning about this blue ribbon beauty.

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

Monday, January 21, 2019

Horsing Around With This Charming Mare Pair

Are you ready for another Steiff mane event? Well, this one's twice as nice, as it features a pair of ponies! Check out this note from Steiff superfan Tom about his wife's childhood friends. He shares...

"Hi! I am hoping to find out about these two 7" horses. They were my wife's when she was a child, and if they are worth insuring, we would like to know. Also, when they were made, if they have an "item #" and description. Thank you!"

Well, its off to the races with these fine fillies. These both are Steiff ponies made exclusively for the high end North American toy retailer F.A.O. Schwarz. They are standing, unjointed, and made from tan mohair that is airbrushed with lovely chestnut highlights. Their manes and tails are made from very long greyish white mohair. Their faces are detailed with black button eyes and a little hand stitched and airbrushed mouth. Overall, this design is extremely realistic, appealing, and playful - all at the same time! 

In terms of history, this pony pattern was produced from 1963 through 1972 in this size only. Its article number is 3759/02. According to the original F.A.O. Schwarz catalog, this horse was described as “… a handsome 8.5 inch steed covered in tan and white mohair plush with flowing white mane and tail. Complete with brindle, saddle, and saddle blanket. An F.A.O. Schwarz exclusive. A toy to excite your child’s imagination, to give fun-filled hours, and provide fond memories that happily can last a lifetime.” As noted in the cataloging, these horses all left the factory in Giengen with lovely, to-scale fittings; from the photo Tom provided it appears that several of these items have been lost to time. The picture on the left, from Steiffgal's collection, shows this pony with all of her original accessories, including tiny stirrups.

Tom is also chomping at the bit to learn the value of these horses. As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiffgal has not seen these horses firsthand to check for condition. They are lovely, but have some key issues - including missing accessories and IDs and light playwear. In the past two years, complete F.A.O Schwarz horses in very good to excellent condition with all IDs have sold in the c. $118-$495 range on eBay. It would be Steiffgal's best guessimate that "Tom's twins" might trade hands on a similar online channel in the c. $75-$120 range each. This assumes that they are as presented without any significant structural or aesthetic issues not captured on camera.

Steiffgal hopes you've enjoyed today's equine stable fable!

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Vectis Auctions' Upcoming January 2019 Doll & Teddy Bear Sale To Offer Lots Of Steiff Temptations

Temptations, temptations... as Steiff collectors, we all are excited to learn about interesting sales and opportunities on the horizon. So Steiffgal was delighted to hear from her colleague Joanne McDonald at Vectis Auctions about an upcoming event featuring fantastic vintage Steiff selections. The company's Doll & Teddy Bear Sale will be held on January 29, 2019 starting at 10:30 AM GMT at the Vectis galleries, located in Stockton on Tees in the United Kingdom. Here are three outstanding Steiff lots from that sale that really caught Steiffgal's eye - and why. 

There's no horsing around that this first pick, lot #4616, is one of the mane events of this toy auction. It's a rare, antique Steiff horse on early metal wheels, estimated at £300 - £500 ($385 - $642.) It is cataloged as:

"Steiff vintage rare Muster (sample) horse on wheels, German, circa 1907 (produced from 1907-1920), Art No 1359, with rare Muster button to left ear (also has remains of white fabric tag behind button), Steiff button is missing, cinnamon and white mohair, black boot button eyes, black velveteen inner ears, inserted black cotton mane, tail is missing, upon metal chassis with connecting frame, original cord is still attached to frame (faded), four six-spoked metal wheels, curb bit with long metal shank (inserted within horse's closed mouth), curb chain, bridle is missing, leather saddle with tooled edging, leather girth, stirrups with leathers, crupper, red felt saddle cloth with gold embroidered edge (felt is holed, particularly under the seat of the saddle where a piece is missing), white felt surcingle, mohair is worn and faded / discoloured with some areas of balding overall, muzzle is holed to front, left ear has hole, Fair Plus to Good, 19.75"/50cm. NB: Steiff "Muster" button was used by the company on sample pieces- defining the piece to be a 'sample.'"

Collectors are certain to jockey for position over this eye-catching and unusual example. The size is perfect - not too big, not too small - and won't take up alot of room... which is a issue with many items on wheels. He has an authentic, early presentation and would look would look charming posed alone, or even better, with doll or Teddy riders on his back. It is great that he still retains his accessories, including his stirrups, saddle, blanket, and reins. And buttoning things up here, his seldom seen and desirable "muster" button is the frosting on the cake. It is Steiffgal's understanding that Steiff used the "muster" button pre-WWII on items considered samples, evolving designs, prototypes, or the "gold standard" for production. In general, the button indicated that the item was Steiff property and was not intended for sale or distribution. "Muster" translates loosely from German to English as "template" and in a sense, these "muster" items were just that.  

There's no grey area when it comes to this next auction highlight. It is lot #4621, a Steiff vintage rare Purzel or somersaulting elephant, estimated at £1,000 - £1,500 ($1,285 - $1,927.) It is cataloged as:

"Steiff vintage rare Purzel (somersault) elephant, German, Art No 9323, 1909-1910, button with underscored "f" and remains of white paper tag, grey mohair, black boot button eyes, felt tusks, fully jointed, black toe stitching, mohair and felt tusks a little discoloured, slight bald patch to left forehead, tip of trunk and left hind leg, mechanism is free and partially engaging but does not operate, otherwise Excellent, 12.75"/32cm. NB: The elephant is the rarest of all Steiff tumbling animals- only appearing in the catalogue for two years."

This great tumbler is truly ele-fantastic.  His design itself is really appealing, but his clockwork feature would make any enthusiast go head over heels over him. Steiff's tumblers are all time collector's favorites, and seldom appear on the secondary market. These somersaulting sweeties are activated by an internal clockwork mechanism and literally do somersaults when their arms are wound up. Steiff "purzel" production included bears, monkeys, elephants, and a few doll models, including Eskimos and clowns. For context, in 2016, a similar one changed hands at auction in the USA at $3,300 (£2,568).

And this last auction highlight is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Check out lot #4622 a rare vintage Steiff Jocko monkey, estimated at £700 - £900 ($900 - $1,156.) It is cataloged as:

"Steiff vintage rare Jocko monkey, German, c 1930, uppercase letters with underscored "f" button (with remains of white tag behind), ginger* mohair, brown and black glass eyes, felt inset face, cream mohair chin, felt ears, hands and feet, fully jointed, slight discolouration / wear to mohair and felt, small hole to felt left cheek, left little felt finger is holed, mohair thinning to right cheek and torso (inoperative press squeaker), otherwise Good Plus to Excellent, 11"/28cm. NB: *This is not a standard Steiff line item and is highly desirable in this colour."

This spicy guy is a ginger prince indeed. Unlike Steiff's regular line Jocko monkeys, which were produced in brown or white mohair, this fantastic rarity was manufactured in an almost orange colored mohair. It is easy to think that he "faded" or "oxidized" to this color, or was somehow treated to produce this color, but indeed he was "born this way." Prewar, Steiff sometimes produced standard line items in small quantities in "un-standard" materials for a few reasons. These include 1) using materials on hand to make an item when its regular materials were not available, 2) testing a new fabric on a standard item to see if it was appealing or made sense from the monetary or product line extension perspectives, and 3) fulfilling an order for a window display, customer special request, or other business purpose. Steiffgal knows of two other 1930-era gloriously hued Jockos like this one, and in both cases, they are considered collection "royalty" by their owners.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Vectis' upcoming sale has given you "lots" to think about. Please check out the company's website at to learn more and to see the auction's 650+ wonderful toy treats firsthand. 

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

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Snips and Snails And Puppy Dog Tails - Steiff Style!

Oh boy! Look what we have here... a delightful dolly inquiry from far away! Check out this note from a new friend about her lovely little fellow. Just who could he be? Adriana writes...

"I mail you from Netherlands. I have this beautiful doll and would like to know more about age and price. All the information you could give me would be very welcome. How old is my piece? What is some of the history around my piece? Is my piece really a Steiff? I would like to thank you for your efforts and wish you a nice day."

Let's button up what we know, and what we don't, about this beautiful boy. For sure, he is made by Steiff, given his general presentation, center seamed felt face, and Steiff button (which can be seen in a photo that does not appear in this blog post.) However, because it is Steiffgal's best thinking that some of his clothing is original to him, and some is not, his EXACT identify is more questionable. Having handled a number of first quarter 20th century Steiff boy dolls, Steiffgal suspects that his socks, pants, and shirt are most likely original to him, while his vest, hat, and necktie, are not. 

As it turns out, Steiffgal has an all original boy doll in her collection who is wearing a very similar shirt, pants, and socks as Adriana's little love. As such, it is possible that they are the same model, although it is not clear from the photos just how tall Adriana's boy is. Steiffgal's doll is 28 cm. This boy doll's name is Harry, and according to Steiff records, he was made from 1908 through 1925 in 28, 35, 43, 50, and 60 cm. Harry is made entirely from felt, is fully jointed with truly human proportions, and has a short, blond mohair wig. He is described as "felt, jointed, Dutch fisherman, original costume." By "original costume" Steiff means that the dolls are dressed in apparel that is traditional to a country - in this case, the Netherlands. You can see Steiffgal's Harry here on the left. Check out his original felt clogs and silk neckerchief.

One thing that is a little different between Adriana's doll and Steiffgal's doll is their age. And you can detect that through a simple, but subtle difference between the two. Steiffgal's doll has black shoebutton eyes, dating him at the earliest part of the production run, say around 1908 to 1910. Adriana's doll has stunning blue and black glass pupil eyes, dating him from roughly 1911 onward. Here on the left you can see Steiffgal's Harry posing with his lifelong friend Alida, a sweet Dutch girl who also sports fine felt clogs. Given her blue and black glass pupil eyes, it is safe to say she's a handful of years younger than handsome Harry.

Adriana also asked about the possible "value" of her doll. As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiffgal has not handled this doll in person to fully view and access its condition. What is clear is that he does have a little damage to his face, and that his clothing is not entirely original to him. After doing a little research on current auction sales of antique Steiff dolls in somewhat similar condition, it appears that an example like this could trade hands in the $800-1,200 range.

Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed learning about Adriana's mystery man!

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