Sunday, February 24, 2019

Having A Ball With This Charming and Early Steiff Woolen Miniature Rooster

Top of the 'morning to you! A rooster's call welcomes the new day. And this little rooster under discussion here is certain to MAKE your day! Check out this happy pre-war handful and see what makes him so delightful from the design and product development perspectives.

Bird's the word with this well-rounded woolen miniature rooster. He is head jointed and measures about 3.75 inches (or 9.5 cm) tall, including his comb, and about 4 inches (or about 10 cm) wide, including his tail. His body is made from green, yellow, tan, brown, blue, and yellow Nomotta wool threads. His two front pom pom "legs" are made from yellow Nomotta wool threads. His tail is made from green felt, while his comb is made from red felt. His happy, smiling beak is made from yellow felt. He has playful, black and white google style glass eyes. Rooster retains his short trailing "f" style button and bits of his yellow tag as his Steiff IDs on his tail feathers. This item was produced in this size (9 cm) from 1938-1942.  

Other similarly ball shaped barnyard bird buddies of rooster's era include an 8 cm duck produced from 1936-1941, an 8 cm chick produced from 1936-1941, and a 9 cm hen produced from 1938-1941. These birds are featured in the photo on the left in the top row. This image is from Steiff's 1938/1939 catalog. You can click on the catalog page to make it bigger. Which is your favorite? 

This woolen miniature rooster has article number "3509." This code translates to 3=sitting, 5=lamb's wool or wool plush, and 09= 9 cm. The 5 is somewhat confusing as it does not specifically call out the "yarn" characteristics of rooster's material. However, almost all of Steiff's prewar woolen miniatures have a 5 as their second article number digit, so it appears that the "5" does incorporate the Nomotta wool category. 

Rooster is also noted on the catalog page as weighing 15 grams. Steiffgal decided to fact check that by weighing her example... and indeed he does!

Woolen miniatures were an important part of the Steiff pre-war line from the early 1930's through the early 1940's. Birds and other pets - like rabbits, cats, dogs, and bugs - were well represented in the product mix. They were appealing, inexpensive to produce and purchase, addictively collectible, and marvelous companions for larger dolls, bears, and other animal friends. Despite their petite proportions, each had a distinct personality and a timeless charm. This probably explains why they are so adored, and collected, by enthusiasts today - nearly 90 years after their introduction! 

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on this fine feathered friend has been a ball for you!

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Hungry For More Information On This Carrot Toting Steiff Rabbit

Please lend your ears to this 14 carrot gold inquiry! Rabbits are among the most popular Steiff designs, and have been since the company started producing them in the late 19th century. Their ties to Easter, fertility, and rebirth go back centuries. Check out this question from Patrick, who asks about one of his Steiff happy-hoppers. Are you familiar with his rarity? He shares...

I am from Luxembourg, but living in Germany. I own a big collection of Steiff animals, about 1,500 pieces. About one of them I don´t know really anything. So I hope, you, as an expert, can perhaps help me. It is the bunny, which you can see in the photos. He does not have tags and is 40 cm to the tips of his ears. I bought it from a Steiff-Seller 10 years ago! Even if Easter has not yet come, I hope you can tell me something about this beautiful bunny bringing his carrots (one in his paws and one in a pocket on his back) with.
Sincerely yours,

Talk about a cheerful earful! What Patrick has here is is known as the "Carrot Rabbit" or "Sunny the Bunny." This rarity was produced as a special edition for the department store Macy's here in the United States. This item was made in 9, 12, 17, and 30 cm in the 1950-1956 time frame. The 30 cm version was also made with a music box in 1954-1955. Although this particular rabbit has lost his IDs to time, it is interesting to note that he retains his cloth "Made in the US Zone" tag, suggesting that he was made at the very beginning of his production timeline. Since for the most part Steiff rabbits are measured without their ears (just vertically from the top of the head to the feet) Steiffgal suspects that Patrick's Sunny is the largest size at 30 cm. 

Steiffgal can't think of any other Steiff special editions made for Macy's, so his distribution channel and origins are quite unique! After World War II, Steiff worked with two rep firms here in the United State, the Loucap Company and Reeves International. It is most probable that Macy's worked with one of these New York based companies to bring this Carrot Rabbit to market. 

There are several delightful features about this Carrot Rabbit. First, of course, is the fact that he comes with two felt carrots, one in his "back pocket" and one in his hands. They are detailed with felt greens and airbrushing. Steiff has a long tradition of creating toys in felt, so this is a delightful nod to the company's legacy. Rabbit's fantastic, tri-colored glass eyes give him such personality and a "high end product" look. And his well defined, oversized legs and feet keep him well balanced in an upright, sitting position. Although he shares a few similar characteristics with the company's fully jointed Niki rabbit pattern of the same era (produced in 14, 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm from 1951-1964 overall), his construction, scale, and and facial detailing put him on a close, but not identical, branch on the Steiff product development tree.

Steiffgal hopes that this discussion on Patrick's Carrot Rabbit has brought a spring to your step today.

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

Friday, February 8, 2019

Getting A Leg Up On This Midcentury Steiff Mystery!

This inquiry from a new friend is simply ele-phantastic! Kati has something very special in her collection, but one that so far has defied identification.  Let's take a look at her note and use our grey matter to figure out what this mystery item just might be! 

Kati shares,

"I have a very unusual Steiff that I am having a hard time identifying. Not sure if you can point me in the right direction. I am not in anyway wanting an appraisal but just a little bit more information on the piece. I have searched EVERYWHERE and have not been able to come up with anything. 

It is an elephant with a Steiff tag and he has extremely long legs. The number on his tag is 7330. He measures 12.5” inches tall and 12” from trunk to tail. His legs alone are 7.5” tall. He has wood tusks and a red felt bib/collar. 

I am hoping you either know a little about him or can point me in the direction to a site or someone who might. Thanks for your time!"

There's no junk in the trunk when it comes to this absolute rarity. What we have here is Steiff's wonderful and seldom seen Lulac elephant. He is as Kati describes above; his delightful details include a jointed head; a smiling, open, felt lined mouth; and playful black and white google eyes. His upturned trunk is a sign of good luck, too. "Lulac" refers to his goofy, exaggerated form consisting of really long arms and legs. Other Lulac style animals produced at or around the same period include a Zotty bear, rabbit, Cocker Spaniel, donkey, zebra, tiger, lion, and poodle. This particular Lulac elephant was made as an exclusive for the United States market in this size only in 1958.

If you look hard enough, you can find jumbo clues about a Steiff treasure by examining its small details. In this case, check out what Kati says about his ear tag. The code on it reads 7730. According to Steiff reference materials, this corresponds to... 7 = in caricature, 3 = mohair, and 30 = 30 cm tall. But these numbers don't shed any light on how unusual this pattern truly is. To put things in context, the only other example Steiffgal has even come across was one at auction in 2010 at Christies. You can see that auction listing by clicking here.

Now for that "elephant in the room" question that everyone undoubtedly has on their minds about now. How does this great item value in today's marketplace? As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiffgal has not seen the item firsthand to inspect for condition. Many critical condition items, like dry rot, odors, insect damage, etc., do not show up on photos, and that's why it is essential to see an item firsthand to give it a fair review. Given the Lulac elephant is as described and as presented, with no essential structural or aesthetic issues, it is Steiffgal's best guess sight unseen that this item may sell on an online channel or auction in the c. $1,000-2,000 range.

Steiffgal hopes that you found this discussion on Kati's elephant absolutely unforgettable.

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