Saturday, June 13, 2020

These Steiff Auction Apes Are More Fun Than A Barrel Full of Monkeys!

It's no secret that Steiffgal is just bananas over Steiff's monkeys from any era. So she was thrilled to see a number of important ones coming up for sale at Potter & Potter's Eclectible Collectible Auction to be held on June 20, 2020. This event features over 120 lots of super sweet Steiff finds, including a ton of prototypes, one-of-a-kinds, hand samples, and unproduced items. So without further ado, let's monkey around a bit and check out some of these premier primates.

It's all fun and games when it comes to this first marvelous monkey. It is lot #90 and cataloged as: "Steiff Jocko Football Player [FAO Schwarz Exclusive]. 1970s. Mohair Jocko in a football uniform, issued exclusively through FAO Schwarz in the early 1970s. 11”. No tags. Uncommon." This athletic ape is estimated at $80-150.  Jocko looks to be in fine shape but is missing his original felt football helmet. This often happens over time when an accessory is not sewn onto an item. The rest of his outfit appears to be in fine condition. And how can you resist his "wild and crazy" blue dralon jersey? Jocko as a football player would be a great fit for a monkey, football, F.A.O. Schwarz, or "wacky 70's" collection.  

Given his time in the line (over a century!) and his global appeal, Jocko has been created in many different materials, forms, and novelties over time. Steiff and F.A.O. Schwarz began their partnership in 1906. Early post World War II, Steiff began creating a series of exclusive products for F.A.O. Schwarz. Some were entirely novel, while others - like this Jocko -  were tweaks and modifications of existing standard line items. Football playing Jocko appeared in the line from 1972-1973 and is considered relatively rare on the secondary market. He is pictured here on the left how he looked when he left the factory in Giengen almost 50 years ago; the image is from Pfeiffer's 1947-2003 Sortiment. 

Steiffgal's willing to go out on a limb for her next primate pick. Here we have Steiff's replica 1903 monkey with extraordinarily long arms and legs. It is lot #85 and cataloged as: "Steiff Monkey 1903 Replica Limited Edition. 2004. From an edition of 1,000. White tag. Brown distressed mohair, felt paws and face. Height 24”. Joints a little tender." This tall drink of water is estimated at $125-250. He has a marvelous, old fashioned look to him, including charming, oversized felt hands and feet. Given his scale and personality, he would be a great focal point for any room needing a little monkeyshines.

This design is a key one in Steiff's product development timeline. In his cataloging, this early ape is described as having "tender joints." Given he is string jointed, it is Steiffgal's suspicion that his joints are a bit wobbly, as they would be in a string jointed item. Steiff's first jointed animals were jointed with string. As you can imagine, these sorts of joints were not durable and broke easily, rendering the toys practically useless. Lot #17, a replica PB55, is another example an early Steiff string jointed animal.  Steiff next experimented with rod jointing. However, this metal infrastructure added a lot of weight - and alot of "uncuddliness" to items. Rod jointed items appeared in the line from c. 1904-1905. Lot #26, a replica 1904 bear, is a nice example of a rod jointed Steiff bear.  Then from c. 1905 onward, Steiff used a cardboard disk and metal pin jointing system, which is still part of production today. You can see the original 1903 string jointed monkey "dancing" with Steiff's original string jointed Teddy bear from company's turn of last century catalog page pictured above; the image is from the Cieslik's Button In Ear The History of the Teddy Bear and His Friends. 

And the eyes have it with Steiffgal's third monkey auction highlight. Here we have Steiff's Mimocculo orangutan replica. It is lot #86 and cataloged as: "Steiff Mimocculo 1930 Replica Limited Edition. 1998. Number 111 of an edition of 3,000. Features a squeaker, moving eyes, rust mohair, jointed arms and legs. Height 13”. He is estimated at $125-250. This irresistible and quirky monkey is quite the looker - from his fantastically colored mohair to his incredibly detailed felt facial mask.

Marvelous Mimocculo has both looks and brains... and is also a feat of precise engineering. What makes both the original and replica Mimocculos so unique are their moving eye features. When you pull on his ear, his glass eyeballs move left and right, as well as up and down! The Mimocculo pattern was originally produced from 1930 through 1936 in 8, 10, 12, 14, 17, 22, 25, 28, 35, 43, and 50 cm; sizes from 17 cm had the distinctive rolling eye mechanism. In 2016, Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion sold a working version of eye rolling Mimocculo for close to $7,400! He is pictured here on the left; the photo is from In the early 1930s, one of Steiff's business development strategies was to produce very high end mechanical novelties, and this is a perfect example of that. So as they say, here's looking at you kid... literally!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on some of Potter's June 20, 2020 Steiff primate sale highlights has been more fun than a barrel full of monkeys!  You can learn more about this sale and check out the entire catalog by clicking here.

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

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