Monday, June 21, 2021

The Power Of Provenance!

What makes a fantastic Steiff find simply extraordinary? When it comes with full provenance. Provenance, which can include documents and/or photos, is "the place of origin or earliest known history of something," "the beginning of something's existence; something's origin," and/or a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality," according to Merriam-Webster. In this case, all three truly apply! Come learn more about this amazing Steiff Ted from 1905 through words and images from his original family.

This marvelous and very early Steiff cub stands 16 inches tall, is five ways disk jointed, and made from mohair that has faded from an apricot color to a light blond color. 
You can see hints of his original hue in his cracks and crevices, and places the "sun don't shine." Ted has black wooden shoe button eyes, traces of his black stitched nose, and five black claws on each of his hands and feet. His stitched mouth has been lost to time. His original owners invented in essential, finely rendered professional restorations on him to improve his stability and aesthetics; these included a light restuffing, redoing his felt pads, and restitching his claws.

This turn of last century treasure also has a distinctive physical form to him.
He has a very early shaped face and head, somewhat reflective of the Baerle style. His muzzle is long and pronounced, and a bit less sophisticated (don't take that in the wrong way!) than bears produced just a year or two later. Ted's body is very similar in looks and scale to Steiff's c. 1904 rod bears, with a rounded, almost American football shaped torso. He has very long arms with curved wrists, skinny, narrow feet, a back hump, and spoon shaped pads. He has a really teeny tiny blank button in his ear... it probably measures about 2-3 millimeters in diameter. Given all of these metrics and factors, it is Steiffgal's best guess this bear was produced at the factory in Giengen in c. 1905.

But wait... there's even MORE to love about this ancient cub.
He has a handwritten, full letter of provenance summarizing his history, as well as a photo of him with his original owner. This bear was from the family of Alice Bogart Vail Tufts who was born in NYC in 1900. This bear was given to her as a gift when she was a child, and was purchased at FAO Schwarz. Given Schwarz and Steiff have been doing business together since 1906, this makes this bear one of the earliest Steiff bears extant purchased in America! You can see this photo of Alice and her friend for life from c. 1908-1910 here on the left and the letter below; click on each to enlarge them. In the photo, which appears to have been taken in a studio, Alice is "feeding" this bear with a teaspoon. Don't you just love her HUGE hair bow? 

Steiffgal hopes this fabulous bear and his lifelong documentation has helped to demonstrate the Power of Provenance! For more about this delightful cub, check out this YouTube video on his physical and historical highlights!

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

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