Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Century of Steiff's Santa Claus Production

The big man in red is in the house - just about! In honor of Santa's imminent arrival, Steiffgal wanted to share this article on Steiff's vintage Santa dolls with you. She prepared it originally for Auction Daily and also appears on their website. 

Margarete Steiff GmbH, the legendary toy company from Germany, has created a number of irresistible Santa dolls over the years. For many families, especially of German descent, Steiff dolls are just as much of a holiday tradition as trees and stockings. That’s easy to understand, given their appeal! Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of Steiff’s Santa Claus dolls.

The earliest references to Christmas in Steiff’s collateral appeared in the early 1910s, when the company produced holiday advertising featuring standard line items under trees and used as ornaments.
However, none of the items featured were specifically made for Christmas. The first Santa Claus appeared in the general line in the early 1920s, but it was not a doll in the traditional sense. It was a 20 cm wooden Santa Claus toy on a rocking base. Rocking Santa was featured in the catalog from 1923 through 1927. According to the 1924 catalog, this “wobbly figure“ cost 2.5 marks and was “made of the best wood, finely crafted, and colorfully painted with luminous colors.“ You can see this early Santa pictured here on the far left. 

Christmas became a higher priority for Steiff in the early 1950s, when the company was re-establishing its presence as a leading international toymaker post World War II.
Like Santa at the helm of his sled, racing across a dark wintery sky, the arrival of a Steiff Santa doll in 1953 was a very welcome sight indeed. Steiff’s earliest Santa doll was 31 cm and five-ways jointed. He had a rubber head, felt body, bright red felt suit and cap, and a white, fluffy mohair beard. By 1955, this design was also produced in 13 and 18 cm. These Santa dolls appeared in the line through 1963 and were, and remain, year-round favorites with collectors worldwide. The 13 and 31 cm versions are pictured here on the left. 

Due to his popularity, Steiff’s Santa Claus doll pattern was also made as a 21 cm hand puppet from 1954 through 1961.
This puppet had a molded head identical in design to the full-bodied doll. He was detailed with a white full mohair beard and hair, felt hands with stitched digits, and a felt body. He was a little larger in scale than other hand puppets of the time, which generally measured 17 cm. He was dressed in a handsome red felt jacket and hat. His outfit, like the doll from which he was based, was detailed with real white mohair trim down the front of his coat, around his hat, and around his cuffs. His hat was topped off with a white wooly pom-pom. You can see this happy handful, pictured here on the left. 

One of the most astonishing of Steiff’s Santa Claus dolls is the company’s display or practically life-sized version.
This big daddy- 150 cm, or nearly 5 feet tall -was manufactured in the 1960s. These supersized Steiff Santa dolls were dressed to the nines in fine felt tailored suits trimmed in mohair, just like their rock star namesake! Today, these are extremely rare, as, for the most part, time has not been kind to them. Because their faces were made from rubber, they tend to dry out, sink, and crack as the years go by. Few were made, and not too many are still around, making existing examples as rare as hen’s teeth. Here on the left you can see this display doll; he is pulling a wagon-full of some of the company's most popular mid- 1960s era animal designs. 

In the 1970s, due to pressure from other toy manufacturers, Steiff began economizing on their design and production to control costs and stay competitive.
They produced a series of unjointed, inexpensive, and cone-shaped plush dolls and animals in the “Buzzel” style. One noteworthy example of Steiff’s 1970-era Buzzel production is the company’s 20 cm standing Buzzel Santa Claus doll. He is made from red and white dralon material and felt, with a long, white dralon beard. His face is precious and simple; he has small blue felt eyes, a round peach colored felt nose, and a tiny red circle for his lips. Santa is wearing his traditional Santa suit which is integral to his body. He carries a brown Santa sack, which has a little bell in it. This particular doll was produced in this size only from 1972 to 1974. These dolls were designed for fun, play, and love so, it is really rare to find one in collectible condition nearly half a century after manufacturing. A nice example of Steiff's Buzzel Santa is pictured here on the left. 

From the 1980s onward, Steiff’s line regularly featured Santa Claus-themed items and novelties. Although a few humanized Santa dolls were issued, most of these editions were in the form of Teddy bears dressed as the merry man in red. These have included holiday ornaments, soft baby toys, musical items, and even nutcrackers, smokers, and festive candelabras. Given his legacy status, the company’s 1950s-era Santa doll was reissued in 19 and 28 cm as a US exclusive from 1984 through 1988. This happy fellow is pictured here on the left. However, many enthusiasts who came of age with Steiff consider the company’s 1970 and early-era Santa Claus items to be the most authentic representation of the Steiff holiday spirit.

Steiffgal ho-ho-ho hopes this discussion on Steiff's vintage Santa dolls has put you in the Christmas spirit!

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

Saturday, December 19, 2020

A Hint of August In December!

Baby, it's cold outside! But this wonderful mystery from Chile - of all places - will warm your heart for sure. Check out this note from a new friend who asks about a very vintage find on wheels. He shares over time:

"Hello, my name is Adrián and I am from Chile. 

I am writing to inquire about an antique object that appears to be made by Steiff. It is a doll stuffed with straw, covered with cloth on a quadricycle, apparently it had a mechanism that when walking made the doll move. His eyes are made of glass, his body is complete but unfortunately the moths have damaged the coating.... Under the jacket it presents a purple felt. It has wooden wheels and the caddy is made of metal wire. It measures 9 inches tall. In advance I appreciate your help!"

This purple-clad Steiff doll reigns supreme!
This guy is Steiff's "Record August." The doll is made from felt and jointed. When he left the factory in Giengen more than a century ago, we was wearing a purple shirt, a matching purple brimmed cap, white trousers, a black belt, black socks, and brown shoes. You can see elements of this outfit on him today. These details were key in helping to identify him. August has traces of Steiff's first quarter of the 20th century doll facial construction, including a center seam, brown and black glass pupil eyes, a dimensional nose, and facial painting. His ride is Steiff's traditional "record" style vehicle. With this design, a jointed rider is sitting on the seat of a simple cart made from a metal chassis and four wooden wheels. The cart has a handlebar, and the rider appears to pump it back and forth as he is pulled along. Record August was produced in 20 cm from 1916-1929. A picture of him "as new" is here on the left; it is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.

So what is the story behind this wonderful find? According to Adrián:

"The truth is that my late boss was dedicated to antiques, his name was Heriberto Gudenschwager Klaassen. I continued working in his store after he passed away. I found some boxes in the shop, they were stored away for many years, and they contained several old toys on wheels - including the little boy on his quadricycle. A prewar mohair Steiff duck on wheels was also part of this collection. These toys were found in a box in the attic of an old house. My boss bought them from a grandson of the original owner. It was only this year that they were rediscovered in the shop."

In a roundabout way, Record August is part of Steiff's legacy "record" production.
The first record item was "Record Peter" - a chimp on wheels - who came on the scene in 1912 and was an immediate success. The 1912 catalog described him as: “Record Peter, in silky brown mohair plush, seated on a self-drive chassis with sturdy wooden wheels and automatic sound box. Virtually unbreakable mechanism. Simply has to be pulled along by attached cord.” A Record Teddy debuted in 1913, and by 1916, a series of record dolls topped Steiff's novelty production. These included a Record Puck gnome, Shockheaded Peter, Max, Moritz, Radler (a boy in a red felt suit) and this Record August. Over time, popular characters like Mickey Mouse, Petsy the baby bear, and Felix the Cat were also produced as record-style novelties. The record rabbit, pictured here on the left, was featured in Steiff's catalog from 1926 through 1943. Postwar, record style rabbits and chimps appeared in the line through 1964 and 1970, respectively.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Record August has been a joy ride for you!

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

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Putting On A Show Of Support For Steiff's Fantastic And Early Handpuppets!

Hands in the air if you love Steiff puppets!
These great novelties are universally treasured by Steiff, toy, and puppet collectors, and are a great cross-collectible. Although the first Steiff catalog was produced in 1892, hand puppets did not appear in these publications until 1911. However, the designs for a puppet bear, cat, and dog had all been registered in a German patent office since 1909. Through pure serendipity - in the best possible way- Steiffgal recently met an amazing collector with a passion for Steiff's puppets, especially the company's pre-war rarities. Come learn more about puppets and what makes Steiff's puppets so spectacular from the perspective of a lifelong puppet enthusiast.

Steiffgal: Please tell us your name, where you live, and what you collect.

Marcus Sampaio: My name is Marcus Sampaio. I was born in Salvador, the birth city of Brazil. In 2009 I immigrated to Canada and since then I’ve been living in Toronto, an amazing multicultural city. I’m a passionate collector of all sorts of puppets from different parts of the world.

Steiffgal: How did you get interested in puppets? Please describe your puppet collection, and how you store or display it.

Marcus: Puppets have always fascinated me since I was a little kid. All the great memories of attending marionette shows and playing with hand puppets — fostered by my parents during my childhood — led me to a side career as a puppet performer and theatre producer of A RODA puppet Company

My collection is very broad. I have Shadow Puppets made of animal hide, Wooden Marionettes (also called string puppets), Rod Puppets and, of course, the beloved and most known Hand Puppets! Some were once used professionally but many are well loved old toys.

Steiff stole my heart at the very first moment I saw a Jocko puppet. Today I have quite a large collection of these adorable Steiff critters and a soft spot for monkeys. Within the plush world, I also have puppets by interesting manufacturers like Schuco, Kersa, Eduard Cramer, Hermann Teddy, Grisly, Clemens, Anker, Invicta, SAF, Alpha Farnell, Hamiro and the list goes on…

I live in a condo and I don’t have much display space available. So most of my puppets are stored away, sadly! I use a barrister bookcase to display my favourite plush puppets. Some other special ones keep popping out of the trunks and hanging around the house.

Steiffgal: Do you actually use the puppets as puppets in performances? Or are they more like fine collectibles that are appreciated for their beauty, aesthetics, and rarity?

Marcus: I used to perform with the wooden puppets created by my artistic partner Olga Gomez, within the context of our puppet company A RODA in Brazil. The wooden puppet on the left is from A RODA's show "Love and Madness." Currently I collect puppets for their beauty, craftsmanship and also to preserve such an important part of the culture they come from. People would be amazed to know that pretty much every corner of the world has a form of puppetry.

Steiffgal: What about Steiff brand puppets particularly catches your eye?

Marcus: Steiff is truly an amazing brand! The attention to detail, craftsmanship and understanding of how toys are used, impress me. They are not only incredibly beautiful but they also function very well technically, as puppets. Their designs are so well thought out. Just as an example, if you take a close look at the back of a mid-century Steiff hand puppet, you will notice that it is slightly wider than its front. This pattern fits the puppeteer’s hand very nicely and even gives the puppet a nicer shape. 

Steiff is also very consistent in their production. Once I had 2 Dally Dalmatian hand puppets and decided to compare their black dots. I was amazed to see that they were identical but at the same time, their expressions were slightly different, as if they had different souls. I don’t see this design consistency and attention to detail very often when it comes to toy puppets.

Steiffgal: What are the top three favorite puppets in your collection, and why?

Marcus: Wow, that’s a tough one! My collection is so wide and the puppets that I have are so different in styles, origin and materials that it is hard to compare and pick one. But I can say that some pre-war Steiff Jockos are among my favourite plush puppets, probably due to my early memories of a play with a monkey puppet climbing a coconut tree. One named Blondie is pictured here on the left. My other two favourites are a late 19th Century Czech marionette of a noble man with a moustache and a full body Japanese Bunraku puppet.

Steiffgal: And finally, what is the holy grail you would like to find to add to your puppet collection? 

Marcus: Just in the beginning of 2020, I had the amazing opportunity to purchase a full body Japanese Bunraku puppet. I never thought I would be able to have such a treasure in my hands one day, but it happened! He is pictured here on the left. Most puppeteers cherish this highly respected form of puppetry that dates as far back as the 16th century in Japan. And when it comes to Steiff, I would love to add some of the rare and beautiful pre-war puppets that I’m still missing. An old Steiff Teddy Bear Puppet would be a dream come true!

Steiffgal: Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and insights with the Steiff collecting community today! 

For more information on Marcus and his puppet passion, check out his website at

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

Monday, November 30, 2020

The Boys Are Back In Town!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, at least around these parts. Lights are going up, store windows tempt with seasonal displays and goodies, and traditional treats like candy canes, gingerbread men, and fruitcake line the shelves of most grocery stores. The only thing missing, so far, is a little snow to make the experience complete. But that can be remedied right here! To help nature along, here's a quick look at Steiff's history of snowman production.

Despite producing many snow-related dolls, animals, and accessories in the prewar period, it was not until 1955 that Steiff produced its first actual snowman.
This fellow was 25 cm, very plump, and made from white wool plush. His flat feet, designed for standing, had felt pads. He wore a red felt hat and an orange felt scarf, had white woolie buttons down his front, and carried a tiny Christmas tree in his hands. His face came to life with black glass eyes and a dimensional nose and mouth. His article number 7525, corresponded to 7 = in caricature, 5 = wool plush, and 25 = 25 cm tall. He was made as an exclusive for the US market, is insanely rare, and tops the wish lists of many collectors today. The most recent publicly documented sale Steiffgal could find was in January, 2020 when a nice example sold for $1,143 on eBay. The picture on the left is from Worthpoint.

Steiff's next snowman was also a hands down rarity.
In 1964, Steiff introduced its Sneba Snowman puppet. He was 17 cm, unjointed, and made from white dralon. His fingertips and head were stuffed with excelsior. His face was detailed with black eyes, an orange felt nose, a red stitched mouth, and a touch of pink blush on his cheeks. He had two black "coal" woolen pompoms on his chest, and his proper topper was a black felt hat. Sneba was made for only one year and is one of the most sought after postwar puppets as well as items. Like his wool plush cousin from the 1950s, he is as rare as hen's teeth. 
The picture on the left is from Steiffgal's collection.  

It would not be until the 1990s that snowmen would appear again in the Steiff line, but this time with more regularity.
The largest standard line one to date was the company's 32 cm Teddy Bear Snowman from 1996. He was made from white mohair, head and arm jointed, and wore a black felt top hat. His face was detailed with an orange mohair nose and black button eyes. His accessories included matching black buttons down the front of his body and a broom made from wood and mohair. A few years later, In 2001, the company produced a series of 21 cm snowmen, including one wearing a blue and white cap and scarf for the German market, and one wearing a green and red cap and scarf for the American market. And perhaps the most appealing example from that era was the company's 18 cm Snowman and Raven duo, which was produced in an edition size of 3,000 pieces in 2002-2003. T
hese happy friends from Steiffgal's collection are pictured here on the left. 

Given their universal charm, it was no surprise that Steiff produced smaller scaled mohair snowmen as holiday ornaments.
An early, if not the earliest one, was a 12 cm, arm and head jointed version wearing a red top hat and carrying a straw and wooden broom made as an exclusive for Disney in 1998. A somewhat similarly designed version in 13 cm but wearing a black top hat was made as a limited edition for the USA in 5,000 pieces that same year. In 1999, a 12 cm version wearing a blue enameled hat and carrying a tiny Christmas tree topped many Steiff collector's holiday wish lists. And more recently, the company's "Mr. Winter" white mohair snowman ornament from 2016 held two ski poles; this frosty friend on the go is pictured here on the left. The image is from

Snowmen were also produced by Steiff as novelties and licensed articles, including Olaf from Disney's Frozen.
 It's kind of interesting to note that Steiff never made a woolen miniature snowman, even though the pom-pom format would have worked well with their traditionally ball-like forms. A fun novelty example - based on a legacy toy pattern from the turn of last century - was the company's limited edition Roly Poly snowman from 2005. He was 18 cm tall, made from white mohair, and was head and arm jointed. He wore a black felt hat and carried a broom. His face came to life with black button eyes, a red button nose, a red embroidered mouth, and a pipe. Within the last few years, Steiff created a series of mohair and plush snowmen based on the Snowman made famous by English illustrator and author Raymond Briggs. A particularly charming one from this collection was a 13 cm tall, white mohair ornament. Like his namesake, he wore a matching woolen scarf and hat. He was detailed with black button eyes, an orange embroidered mouth, and a black embroidered mouth. He had three black embroidered buttons on his chest, and a white ribbon sewn into his back for hanging. This ornament was made in an edition size of in 2015 as a special for the UK and Ireland. The picture on the left is from Steiffgal's collection.  

Steiffgal hopes this snowman seminar has melted your heart, just a bit, in the most delightful way possible. 

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


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Giving Thanks For Steiff's Century-Plus Long Tradition of Turkey Production

It's feast or famine when it comes to Steiff's terrific turkeys! Steiffgal happens to love turkeys, and not just because they are one of the state birds of Massachusetts (where she lives) or that a flock of wild ones live in the park across the street from her home. Given Thanksgiving is right on the horizon, and these big birds play a starring role in this beloved holiday, it's the perfect time to take a look at the history of turkeys in the Steiff line. 

Steiff's debut turkey was hot stuff indeed. He was a 43 cm turkey coffee cozy, which was manufactured from 1912 through 1920. He is standing and made from various shades of brown and tan felt, with glorious hand painted detailing on his body, wings, and tail feathers. The catalogs describe him as having "very magnificent colors." You can see this early bird here on the left; the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment. At the turn of last century, Steiff produced a significant number of  functional and decorative household items. These included egg and tea cozies and potholders for the kitchen. Most were made from colorful felt - Steiff earliest, and legacy material. It is not surprising that Steiff would use felt for as many products as possible... and, when you think about it, felt is a perfect fabric for rendering a turkey's details like their feathers and their snood, the red dangling portion of their face. 

It's easy to feel lucky about Steiff's next turkey named Tucky.
This fine feathered friend was introduced in 1952 and is pictured here on the left. He is standing and made from long brown tipped mohair that is highlighted with a touch of green airbrushing. He has a very large felt tail and wings; both are detailed with brown and tan stenciling resembling feathers. His eyes are black buttons and he has brown painted metal oversized bird feet. His head, neck, and snood are made from velvet airbrushed with red, blue, black, and green. It is fair to say he has a face that only a mother - or a Steiff collector - could love. Tucky was produced in 10 and 14 cm through 1961. For a relatively small, sort of strange animal, he has amazing detail and the work on him is quite remarkable. 

Following in Tucky's funny metal footsteps is Putty, a 14 cm bird manufactured from 1979 through 1983
. He is pictured here on the left. Putty is made from various brightly colored plush materials, has nicely stenciled thick brown felt tail and wings, and big yellow plastic bird feet. His head and neck are made from trivera velvet, complemented with a red felt waddle and a tan felt beak. Like Tucky, Putty's manufacturing was quite extraordinary given his size and relative importance in the Steiff line. Putty's design evolution from Tucky is quite typical for the company, and also reflects the style preferences of the time. Given its interest in controlling costs and adding efficiencies in material selection, the company chose a simpler pattern for Putty than Tucky, as well as less expensive materials overall. For example, Putty is plush while Tucky is mohair; Putty has plastic molded feet while Tucky has painted hand formed metal feet; and Putty's head and neck are made from trivera velvet, while Tucky's are made from old fashioned velvet. 

A really unusual and amazingly rare Steiff turkey is the company's studio, or life-sized turkey. These are so rare that Steiffgal has only seen or handled one - an example that sold in 2016 at auction for over $5,000! This model is 80 cm, standing, unjointed, and made from tan and black mohair, longer decorative hair, and felt. His legs and feet are made from metal and covered in grey felt. His authentic wings, tail feathers, and body are made from mohair that has been airbrushed in shades of brown, green, and pink - giving the appearance of feathers and feathering. His head and tail feathers are detachable for storage and shipping. His head and neck are made from a solid piece of molded rubber with large shiny black eyes. This whole area is quite authentic looking, and is finished in shades of pink, grey, and tan. You can see this rarity here on the left, the photo is from Morphy Auctions.

And finally, Steiff's most recent turkey - as far as Steiffgal can tell - is a turkey named Tommy who appeared as a North American limited edition in 2005 in an edition size of 1,500. 
Tommy is 18 cm tall, standing, and made from brown mohair and felt. He has a very large felt tail and wings; both are detailed with painting resembling feathers. His eyes are black buttons backed in orange. His oversized feet and legs are made from felt and are posable. His head and neck are made from carefully painted felt. This guy would be an AWESOME holiday centerpiece or table focal point - he's such a hoot. A little known fact about Tommy is that he was named after a beloved and longtime Steiff salesman from the Midwest in the United States. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's terrific turkeys has put you in a thankful frame of mind.

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

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Steiff and Teddy Temptations Galore At Special Auction Services' November 2020 Doll and Teddy Bear Event!

In the mood for something fun? Our friends at Special Auction Services near London are hosting their signature late fall Dolls and Teddy Bears Auction on Tuesday, November 24th and Wednesday, November 25th. Mark your calendars for two days of century spanning toy temptations! As always, Steiffgal dove right into the sale catalog, looking for eye-catching treasures that might have a backstory to them. Here are three that called to her... plus some BONUS insights on each from SAS' own toy man, Daniel Agnew. 

This first auction highlight really takes the pole position. It is lot #83, a Steiff woolen miniature rabbit on skis. It is cataloged as, "A rare Steiff pom-pom woolen skiing rabbit (Skihas 17) 1936-40, with brown and black glass eyes, pom-pom yellow and white rabbit, pom-pom green trousers, whiskers, mohair ears, orange wool scarf, wired body, wooden skis and poles and FF underscored button with crisp yellow cloth tag in ear --8in. (20.5cm.) long." It is estimated at £800 - £1,200.

Steiffgal: Daniel, could you please share with us why Steiff's pre-war woolen miniatures are so appealing to collectors. Could you also tell us anything else about this lot - for example, in the broadest sense its history, or how it was discovered in such fine condition nearly a century after its production?

I was delighted to see this ski rabbit. He belongs to a good client who is slowly selling his collection with me. I have known him from antique fair for years since I was around 10 years old. He has a huge collection of toys and hasn't brought in his best items yet. He didn't really know what he had. I let out a little gasp when I saw this toy and its exceptional condition. When you see the flag or tag behind the button in such crisp clean condition, it's such a thrill. These woolens, often called pom-poms in the UK, have their own charm. There are some collectors who specialize in them. Who can remember winding wool around two donut shaped pieces and then tying and cutting them to make a pom-pom ball? We did as children. These are like them, but 100 times more skillful than a childish attempt! Steiff made an amazing range.

This second auction highlight is really elephant-tactic. It is lot #94, an early Steiff fully jointed elephant. It is cataloged as, "A rare and fine Steiff jointed elephant circa 1908, with grey mohair, black boot button eyes, white felt tusks, swivel head, jointed limbs with black stitched toes, tail and squeaker --10 ¼in. (26cm.) height seated (slight tear to one tusk and slight matting)." It is estimated at £800 - £1,200.

Steiffgal: Daniel, can you give the readers a little history on this design, and why elephants are so important in Steiff's legacy?

Daniel: This Steiff elephant is in exceptional condition; this type of fully jointed elephant was one of the first animated or jointed toy animals. Before 1902, all Steiff animals were static models. It was Richard Steiff who experimented with various ways to make Steiff products move. This resulted in a handful of jointed animals, like the now famous rod jointed bear and an elephant. The whole Teddy Bear market is based around this one concept, taking a bear or elephant and making their limbs moveable, so they end up standing on their hind legs, with front legs like arms. As such, a new toy was created, a humanized animal. Anthropomorphism is attributing human characteristics to an animal; this was a hugely popular concept in the late 19th to early 20th centuries and led to the birth of the world's most popular toy. This example, missing the famous button in ear, so making hard to date precisely, probably dates to around 1908 and is a prized example.

And bear with Steiffgal as she chooses a non-Steiff selection as her third pick.
She not-so-secretly has eyes for 20th century-era Cramer bears, given their appeal and precious detailing. As such, lot #109, a sweet Cramer cub takes the bronze here. He is cataloged as, "An Eduard Crämer teddy bear 1930s with light brown mohair, brown and black glass eyes, inset short blonde mohair face mask, brown stitched nose, mouth and remains of claws, swivel head, jointed elongated limbs with felt pads, hump and growler --15in. (38cm.) high (bald spots, holes in lower head around neck from moth attack, general wear, thinning and fading)." It is estimated at £250 - £350.

Steiffgal: Daniel, can you give the readers a brief history on Cramer bears and what makes them so appealing... as well a reason or two why Cramer items should be of interest to Steiff Teddy bear collectors, too?

Cramer is an interesting firm. 20to 30 years ago, we would not have known a great deal about this company. Thanks to research by the Ciesliks, we now know how to identify their bears. Eduard Cramer took over his father-in-law's Schalkau (Germany) toy factory in 1885. It is thought that he made his first Teddy bear in 1905/06, but little is known about his early bears. By the 1920s, Cramer Teds are known as very good quality bears, made from the finest mohair and felt. Their most distinct bear, like lot #109, has a very characteristic inset heart-shaped face mask. I think it's all about the nose stitching; once you get used to the way Cramer made their bears, they become fairly easy to identify. There is a delicate way they are stitched with finer than typical thread. Another non-Steiff bear that would be of interest to Steiff collectors is lot #100, an incredibly rare Strunz jester teddy bear. He's pictured here on the left. He is rod-jointed and dates from c. 1904. Strunz and Steiff had huge rivalry and there were many lawsuits between the two companies. This clown costume is identical to Steiff's jester clown doll from the same era.

For more information on this great sale, and to see the catalog in its entirety, please click here!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on SAS' upcoming Steiff and toy auction highlights has added a playful touch to your day.

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

Friday, November 6, 2020

These Silly Steiff Crabs Are Certain To Put You In A Good Mood!

Looking for a little something to pinch your interest? Then check out these wacky, and wonderfully silly sea creatures. Steiff has made just about every land and water animal you can think of. Some are incredibly realistic, while others - like these - look like they are straight from the imagination of a toddler with a big box of Crayola crayons. 

It's hard to be in a bad mood when it comes to this cute collection of Steiff's Cosy Clippy crabs.
These beach buddies are each 10 cm and unjointed. They are made of woven fur, with the tops being one color and the bottoms being another complementary hue. Their front arms are made from tan felt, are dimensional, and have a little "pincher" on the tips. The rear legs are made from matching tan single thick felt, are flat, and are detailed with a spot of brown airbrushing on each "claw."  The faces on these crabs come to life with tiny black button eyes and a very simple black "v" shaped painted mouth.

Clippy was produced from 1995 through 1996 in six - yes six - colors: violet, yellow, red, olive green, eggplant, and raspberry.
Steiffgal has four of the six, with the remaining two topping her bucket list. In hand, she has the violet and tan version, the olive green and light green version, the aubergine and light purple version, and the raspberry and pink version. For some reason, these are extremely rare on the secondary market, and very hard to find. This design is a good example of an item being "relatively" new, still yet quite desirable and collectible from the enthusiast's prospective.

As far as Steiffgal can tell, this is the only crab that Steiff has designed or produced.
Given their size and structure, these cranky cuties would have made great woolen miniatures! However, Steiff did make a number of smaller, happily hued animals - mostly as playthings for children - in the 1990s. This series of crabs seems to fit into this product development initiative, given their size and materials. These other species included a series of 16 cm cozy snails in colors like purple, pink, and blue from 1994-1996, a series of 20 cm cozy caterpillars in colors like red, blue, and purple from 1995-1997, a series of 18 cm cozy mice in colors like raspberry, violet and blue from 1995-1997, and a series of 20 cozy crabby beetles in colors like red, purple, rose, and blue from 1992-1994, among others.

Steiffgal hopes today's blog on these funny little ocean creatures has added a spot of unexpected color to your day.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2020

This Life-sized Steiff Dog Will Have Your Eyes - Irish Or Not - All A'smiling!

It's time to set the record straight... no one does dogs better than Steiff!
This is especially true when it comes to the company's outstanding 20th century life-sized pooches. These true-to-scale dogs are usually rendered so authentically that they can be confused for their real-life brothers. Take a look at this amazing Steiff Irish Setter. There's no question he'll have your eyes - Irish or not - all a'smiling!

It's no joke - this big, beautiful boy is Steiff Pranko Setter.
He measures about 33" tall and about 40" long, not including his impressive tail. He is standing, unjointed, and made from deep reddish-brown woven fur. He is solidly stuffed with a mix of excelsior and polyfill, with an interior metal frame for strength and stability. His head and legs are made from shorter fur, while his earl, tail, body, and leg-feathering are made from longer fur. His personality really shines through his face; it is detailed with brown and black pupil eyes, a lifelike muzzle, dimensional jowls, a large leather like nose, and airbrushed highlights. He wears his original green collar and retains his button in ear and ear tag with EAN 4060/80. Pranko was made in this size only from 1978 through 1981.

Also in the line about the same time as Pranko was a life-sized sitting Irish Setter named Bosco. Like Pranko, he is cataloged at about 33" tall (officially 80 cm) and has the same general appearance, personality, and construction. He appeared from 1979-1983. These realistic Irish Setter dogs were introduced right at the time when Steiff updated how these life-sized animals were named. Steiff launched the name "Studiotiere" or "Studio animal" in 1979/1980. So life sized animals produced before then are technically "Schautiere" or "Display animals" and those produced at, or after that time, are technically "Studio animals."

Irish Setters are a rare dog breed in the Steiff commercial line.
The first one appeared in 1933 in 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm. He was standing on all fours, made from long and short mohair, and of course, had the breed's distinctive long floppy ears and tail. This model appeared through 1940. These are pretty rare and the only ones Steiffgal has seen trade hands were a 17 and 28 cm version at a Steiff auction at Christies in London in 2010. You can see the 17 cm version here on the left, the photo is from Christies. Also debuting in the early 1930s was a similarly designed riding Irish Setter on wooden wheels. This model was mounted on a metal carriage and appeared in 35, 43, and 50 cm through 1941. This riding Setter made a brief re-appearance postwar, from 1950 through 1954 in 43 and 50 cm. The key difference between the pre and postwar versions was that the postwar version had rubber, not wooden, tires. 

It seems like dog years since an Irish Setter has graced the Steiff catalog. 
A quick online search suggests that within the last 10 to 15 years, the company introduced an utterly charming 12 cm Irish Setter as part of a miniature canine program. Like his forefathers, this petite prince featured authentic Irish Setter coloring and long, floppy ears. You can see this good boy here on the left.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's lovely Studio Irish Setter has given your day a golden glow.

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

Monday, October 19, 2020

My Favorite Martian - Steiff Style!

So what's the wackiest thing in your Steiff collection? Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, and Steiffgal would bet there are as many answers to this question as there are collectors. Here's one oddity from Steiffgal's hug that just may put you in orbit with his weirdness. Take a look at this mystery Martian and see what makes him so "out there" from the design and product development perspectives.

It's probably very easy being green when it comes to this "space cadet." This majorly-toothed Martian is Steiff's Gruenes Maennchen, or Little Green Man. He is 35 cm tall and made from green colored trevira velvet. His proportions are much like the company's iconic "lulac" style animals, with their long torsos and dangling limbs. His arms and legs have wire armature so they can be posed in playful ways. 

Gruenes Maennchen's face is utterly charming. He has enormous black and white googly eyes, one thick black strand of "hair" (or possibly an antenna) on his forehead, pert ears, a prominent bulbous nose, and an open mouthed ear-to-ear grin. And of course... a huge set of white felt buck teeth. According to the Sortiment, he appeared in the lie from 1982-1984, and that perfectly aligns with his IDs, body shape, and materials.

Like life on other planets, there isn't alot known about this "Man from Mars." Physically, this guy has some similar body characteristics to Steiff's Steiff's Cappy Schlenkerfrosch, or Cappy Dangling Frog. Cappy also is "lulac" styled with his long unjointed arms and legs and internal wire armature. He is also made from green trevira velvet. This "hoppy" friend is 32 cm and appeared in the Steiff line from 1979 through 1984. You can see Cappy posing here on the left. Gruenes Maennchen also shares a few characteristics with Steiff's 35 cm, open mouthed, google-eyed green trevira velvet Hand Dragon puppet. This silly sweetie was made in 1991 for the Oldenburg publishing house. Oldenburg, which is now part of the De Gruyter group, is headquartered in Berlin; its company history spans more than 260 years. You can see this puppet below here on the left. 

We do know for sure that Gruenes Maennchen was designed by the European author and illustrator Pat Malette. Malette wrote a number of popular books charmingly illustrated with these "little green men" in the 1980s. It is possible that Malette's adorable, quirky alien caught the eye of the Steiff design team who decided to bring it to life, Steiff style!  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on her strange alien Gruenes Maennchen, or Little Green Man, has grounded your day just a bit. 

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

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Best of All Worlds: Steiff REAL and Replica!

Are you seeing double? Usually, this is cause for alarm. But not in this case, in terms of these two very fine Steiff fellows. Produced nearly a century apart, these "hairy canaries" prove that good looks, genes, and and remarkable beards are not only timeless and appealing, but great assets, too! Let's take a look at this original turn of last century Steiff doll and his 1990s era replica and see how they compare.

Things are twice as nice when it comes to Steiff's "Hungarian" doll. The original is shown here on the left, and the replica from 1996 is on the right. The early and original Hungarian doll was manufactured by Steiff from 1912 - 1917. According to the Pfeiffer's early Sortiment reference book, he was produced in 50 cm, although this particular example measures 43 cm and the number on his tag reads "Ung 43." It is very possible that he was produced in a number of different sizes during his manufacturing run; not all early records are perfect.

So let's look at the older guy first. Vintage Hungarian - on the left in this photo - is made from felt, stuffed with excelsior, and fully jointed. His uniform is integral to his body. He wears a red felt jacket that is trimmed with curly, jet black mohair and detailed with metal buttons, black and gold embroidery, and cord and orange felt trimmed cuffs. His tan pants are decorated with red embroidered felt stripes. His knee-high leather boots are trimmed with tan string tassels and orange felt. His "proper topper" is a red felt cap embellished with a metal button, orange felt, and a leather brim. Hungarian has a gold rope whip wound around his left shoulder. His face comes to life with Steiff's signature center seam construction, black eyes, a prominent nose, oversized ears, and a full mustache, beard, and head of hair made from the same curly jet black mohair that decorates the bottom circumference of his jacket.

Now let's check out his doppelgänger. This marvelous Steiff replica doll was produced in the late 1990s as part of limited edition doll and horse set. You can see that dynamic duo in the photo here on the left. Although the replica is cataloged at 43 cm, Steiffgal's example actually measures 47 cm tall. In the late 1980s through the late 1990s, Steiff created a series of replicas based on their 19-teen era Schlopsnies Circus program. These replica dolls included clowns, animal trainers, musicians, and performers, among others. The original Schlopsnies Circus was large scale, dynamic, and extremely popular exhibit designed and created by Steiff creative freelancer Albert Schlopsnies. It consisted of over 30 circus themed dolls and acrobats, based on real life performers at the world famous Circus Sarrasani of Dresden, Germany.

So how do the original and the replica align? Keep in mind that it is nearly impossible to recreate something exactly as it was a century onward - given how materials and technology change over time, and how fabrics and fillings oxidize and age. With that as a backdrop, let's compare three factors here: these two doll's detailing and materials, construction, and general aesthetics.

Detailing and materials:
For the most part, the two have a lot in common in these categories. There are a few very minor differences, like the exact embroidery on the back and arms of their jackets and the spacing of the stripes on their cuffs. The original has his button and white paper tag located in his ear, while the replica has his button in ear, and another Steiff button and his white tag located on the edge of his jacket. Clearly, the doll's rope whip and boot tassels cannot be exactly replicated as the materials used for these accessories have evolved over time. The key physical material difference between the early Hungarian and the replica Hungarian is that the replica uses long black plush in the place of long black mohair on the doll's hair, beard, and jacket trim - perhaps as a cost savings measure. 

The original Hungarian doll is entirely stuffed with excelsior from head to toe. The replica's head is softly stuffed, while the rest of his body and limbs are stuffed with excelsior. It is really interesting to note that the dolls are nearly identical in weight, with the replica just 4 grams heavier than the antique one. Both dolls have analogous jointing. Here on the left, you can see an original Steiff advertisement from around 1912 featuring the Hungarian astride a camel; the photo is from Ayers and Harrison's Advertising Art of Steiff, Teddy Bears and Playthings.

General aesthetics:
It is obvious that the turn-of-last century doll is slimmer, curvier, and more elegantly scaled than the replica. This is especially noticeable in the face; the original has old fashioned facial contouring and a smaller, to scale nose while the newer version has a fuller, flatter, rounder face with a really bulbous nose. This probably has to do with the fact that excelsior stuffing allows greater contouring than simply polyfill. The replica, although still quite handsome and a wonderful addition to any Steiff collection, is simply a bigger, somewhat streamlined, and boxier interpretation.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's original and replica circus dolls has been one hot ticket for you.

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

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