Thursday, October 28, 2021

Bow-Wow Beauties Coming Up For Auction Soon!

Dog-gonnit! The blue ribbon temptations are endless at the Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH Special Steiff Auction on November 6th! This can't miss event features over 350 simply awesome button-in-ear goodies. The catalog reads like a "who's who" in the vintage Steiff world. Steiffgal recently offered her top Teddy Baby and "one-derfuls" top picks from this sale; now here are her canine cutie favorites.
This first pick is the wheel deal indeed.
This is lot #4179, a standing Bully the Bulldog on wheels. The cataloging reads, "Bully, on excenter-wheels, black/beige mohair, velvet insert in very good condition, very nice colouring at the snout, with button, long stretched F, minimally rests of the white color, with paper breast sign with metal edge, produced around 1930, length: 23 cm, height: 22 cm, very expressive, except of minimally places mohair in very good condition, original ruff." He carries a presale estimate of €220 to €440.

Steiffgal can't imagine that there is a collector out there who doesn't just love Steiff's legacy Bully pattern. This particular item was produced in 10, 14, 17, and 22 cm from 1927-1935 overall. This guy is the best of all worlds. His condition looks lovely. He is standing - not sitting - and the standing ones are generally seen far less often on the secondary market. He has his original horsehair ruff, and these tend to fall apart or get lost to time. He has his button AND metal rimmed tag. And, like you needed any more reason to love him - he's on wiggly eccentric wheels. This guy is the package indeed. Hubba hubba hubba. 

Steiffgal's next pick is a bit of a "sett-up", but more about that in just a bit.
 This fave is lot #4036 and is cataloged as "
dachshund, with button, rests of the yellow cloth tag label, pull voice, faulty, full mohair, slightly faded, lenght: 53 cm, glass eyes." His presale estimate is €160 to €320. 

What's not to love about this pretty pooch? But here's a little secret. It is Steiffgal's best guess, given his color, mohair detailing, presentation, and long legs, that he is actually the company's much rarer pre-war Setter. Setter was made in 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm from 1933-1940 overall; he was also made on wheels in 35, 43, and 50 cm from 1933-1941 overall. You can see the wheeled version pictured here on the left; the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment. See the resemblance? Given the one in the sale noted at 53 cm and has a pull voice, it is very possible that he started out life as a riding animal on wooden wheels. A quick check on the condition of his paw pads would solve that mystery, but that is not possible right now. Steiffgal has never personally handled a prewar Steiff Setter; they so seldom appear on the secondary market.

And now let's raise a glass to today's final prize pup pick.
Here we have lot #4024, a standing Cheerio. He is cataloged as, "Cheerio, date of production 1928-1932, mohair-plush, standing, idealized model of a laughing dog, svivel head , inset eyes, opened snout with tongue, standing height 16 cm, mohair good, minimally faded, rare, minimally mohair loss around the eyes, 1 claw is loose, without button, chest label and cloth tag label." He has a presale estimate of €160 to €320.

Blink and you would have missed Cheerio's time in the Steiff product line.
This happy go lucky pooch was inspired by the likeness of Bonzo, who was a popular cartoon character at the time. Steiff was not able to win the license to produce Bonzo, so they designed "Cheerio, the Laughing Puppy" instead. Cheerio's mouth design - open, smiling, and with a prominent tongue - is most unusual in the prewar era. Cheerio was made in a variety of sitting, standing and novelty editions from 1928-1931. You can see the sitting and begging versions as they appeared in a late 1920s catalog here on the left. Cheerio dogs are so rare on the secondary market, probably because folks who have one just love them and don't want to part with them! This example is not pristine, but its rarity, legacy, and presentation still make it incredibly desirable from the collector's perspective. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on top dog auction picks has been tail-wagging good for you!

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

Friday, October 22, 2021

One-derful Highlights From Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion November 6th Auction!

The countdown continues towards November 6, 2021 for Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH's Special Steiff Auction! This amazing sale, offers 367 OFF THE CHARTS vintage button-in-ear temptations. It's so hard to pick highlights here as practically every lot qualifies as a headliner. Steiffgal offered her top Teddy Baby selections a few days ago; now here are her WAH-HOO good favorites. To qualify for today's elite list, these items (as far as Steiffgal can tell) were not produced on a commercial scale and/or have not appeared in any standard Steiff reference book, such as the Sortiment tomes. So here we go!

There's no monkeying around when it comes to lot #3967, a Steiff monkey made from paper plush.
The cataloging for this item is: "paper monkey, probably produced from 1919-1920, exceptional monkey, in paper plush substitute, wood pulp plush, jointed, with small button, block letters, long stretched F, glass eyes, seat height 18 cm, used condition, exceptional, extremely rare." The presale estimate for this little guy is €220-€440.

There are many things that make this five ways jointed chimp such a champ. His design, scale, and presentation are really appealing. But of course, you can't help but notice his "unconventional" construction of paper plush and linen. Steiffgal has seen, or has known about, a few paper plush Teddy bears. But nothing like this monkey, ever!

During and immediately following the First World War, Steiff was unable to procure adequate supplies of high end fabrics.
Mohair and felt manufacturing had decreased, and the materials produced were allocated towards military purposes. In order to continue some production, Steiff was forced to come up with some alternative products, as well as materials. Given the abundance of wood in the area, the company started producing things like building sets and furniture for children. Steiff also found a way to produce a tweed-like material from local natural products. This "paper plush" was made from nettles and called "Brennessel." Paper plush items appeared in the line from 1919 through 1921, and included popular models of the company's standard line bears, dogs, cats, and rabbits... and apparently this monkey, too!

Next, size defies with this teeny tiny Lulac rabbit, lot #3993.
This is kind of an oxymoron here, as Lulacs are famous for their size and cartoonishly long limbs. He is cataloged as: "Lulac, '60s, with button, chest label and cloth tag label, number on cloth tag label 1322,00, without damage, this size couldn't be found in the STEIFF-catalog, it is probably a sample item." His presale estimate is €250-€500.

It's difficult to tell just from the photo here, but this guy is like an extra from the movie "Honey I Shrunk The Kids!" This bitty bunny really is only a petite 22 cm tall, measured vertically from the top of his head to his toes. As noted, he probably was a small scaled sample of a popular pattern of the time - created as a possible product line extension. And there is precedent for this; Steifgall has a 15 cm version of Steiff's sitting Jumbo elephant which appeared in the line from 1952-1975. Jumbo was produced commercially at 22 and 35 cm. You can see this little guy along with his 35 cm mama below.

Steiff's wonderful five ways jointed Lulac rabbits debuted in 1952.
It is Steiffgal's best thinking that their name derives from the German verb “to laugh” which is lachen, and the word "smile" which is l├Ącheln. Lulacs are famous for their comically long arms, legs and torsos, goofy eyes, and playful personalities. Standard line Lulac rabbits were produced in produced in 43 cm from 1952-74 and 60 cm from 1964-66. So this 22 cm version is one rare rabbit indeed.

And finally, this last auction rarity is certainly a shoe-in for WAH-HOO good status. Check out lot #4318, a pair of fancy mohair kicks for kids. They are noted as, "exceptional children's hares shoes, probably '50s, very nice, strong colors, sole is 16.5 cm long, unused condition, rare, collection Koskinen." They carry a presale estimate of €120-€240. 

These shoes are worthy of walking the red carpet. And Steiffgal so wishes they were made in her size! They feature a rabbit design which is somewhat like Steiff's lying rabbit pattern. This little cutie is known for her stretched out body position and black and white google eyes. These often have the appearance of giving a side glancing "stink eye." Lying Rabbit was made in 6, 9, and 12 cm from 1953 through 1970.

Steiff's tradition of creating innovative product line extension items goes back to the turn of last century. The company has a long history of creating unusual novelties based on their most popular designs of the time. These things include purses, puppets, tea cosies, roly polys, tail moves head items, music boxes, and other functional and/or fun treasures.

It is entirely possible that someone at Steiff made these shoes as an experiment, for fun, or as simply an end of day or whimsy item - perhaps as a birthday or even Easter gift for a child or grandchild. It is also possible, given that the rabbit pattern's detailing is not exactly identical to Steiff, that they don't seem to have any IDs, and the painting and detailing of them is so unusual to Steiff, that they were made by another very high quality manufacturer also producing really appealing midcentury novelties. For example, the company Felpa Zurich MUTZLI created a series of children's hangers; they were covered in mohair and featured the face of a soft mohair Teddy bear or other animal. Only the shoes know for sure - and it is clear they are keeping their origins deep within their sole!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on these WAH-HOO good auction picks has totally energized your day!

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

Sunday, October 17, 2021

It's Easy To Outfox This Early Postwar Steiff Mystery!

Tag - you're it - when it comes to this week's Steiff inquiry. Check out this note from a new friend who has found a mystery fox. He seems Steiff-y... but was he indeed made by the Steiff factory in Germany? And when? She shares:

Hi - came across this little guy and thought he was cute - intrigued by the made in US Zone Germany tag located on the back of his right leg seam so I started researching and now I am wondering if he is vintage Steiff? He does not have a button or flag or anything identifying him as Steiff. He is approximately 6 inches from tail to end with another 3 inches for his tail. His head is articulated. He appears to be made of mohair and I am not sure what the filling is but it is very firm and stiff. Here are some pictures. Thank you!"

This sweet field and forest friend was indeed made by Steiff, and is one of the most beloved early post war designs amongst collectors today. This fox pattern is known for its great coloring, big fuzzy tail, and really appealing presentation. These foxes come to life with realistic airbrushed highlights on their feet, ears, and faces. Each is detailed with brown and black glass pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and a bit of pink airbrushing to on their lips. This legacy pattern was produced in 10, 14, and 17 cm from 1950-1957.  The smallest size is unjointed while the medium and larger sized ones are head jointed. The example under discussion today is most likely the medium or 14 cm version. 

Now let's get into the zone and talk about this fox's tag.
The US Zone tag on this fox is sort of a Steiff ID, but more a general indication of the time frame in which it was made. This is so because many German companies were required to note this production detail following the end of World War II. For example, 
Steiffgal has also noted similar text on items produced by Schuco - including white cloth tags on their soft plush toys as well as imprints on the chassis of their metal vehicles. White linen or ribbon tags were attached to all Steiff soft toy items from 1947 through 1953 (although Steiffgal has only personally seen them on items from 1951 onward.) These all read: Made in US - Zone Germany. Given this fox was in production from 1950-1957 and Steiff used these tags consistently from 1951-1953, it is safe to say that he was manufactured in the very early 1950s. 

The "US Zone Tag" has an interesting story behind it.  At the end of WWll, the Allied powers divided Germany west of the Oder-Neisse line into four areas: American, British, French, and Soviet occupational zones.The Americans were responsible for the southern part of Germany, which is where Steiff is located. The forces were tasked at "demilitarizing" Germany, which included shutting down many factories that did, or had the potential to produce items that could be used for combat or aggressive purposes. 

When Steiff's very limited postwar production slowly started up again in 1945 - 1946, items could only be sold to the American troops. These restrictions were gradually eased and by 1947 Steiff could sell domestically; by 1949 the company's products were once again available internationally. The "US Zone Tag" insured to the outside world that items produced in Germany were done so in a "civilian" factory and met business and distribution standards set up by the American military government overseeing the occupational zone. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this mystery fox has been an engaging tail for you!

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

Monday, October 11, 2021

A Fine Selection Of Century-Spanning Steiff Teddy Baby Bears Headlines Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's November 6th Sale!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Big news on the Steiff front... Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH is holding a simply awesome premier Steiff sales event on November 6th. The catalog has just been published online and features 368 button-in-ear temptations. In all honesty, there are so many breathtaking options it's a bit overwhelming to pick overall highlights. That being the case, let's take a look at the "cream of the crop" per category or character over the next few weeks. There's not a better place to start this series than with a peek at Ladenburger's offering of century spanning Teddy Baby bears.

All Steiffgal can say is "Ohhhh baby..." when it comes to this first pick.
Here we have lot #3977, a most appealing Teddy Baby made from golden artificial silk plush. His starting bid is a very conservative 750 euro. It is cataloged simply as, "teddy-baby, synthetic silk plush, complete with button, sign and cloth tag label, red writing on sign, very nice original-condition, with original-collar and bell, 30 cm, rare." This sweet cub appears to have all of his IDs, including his button, yellow ear tag, and red bear faced chest tag. Given his IDs, materials, and appearance, Steiffgal suspects this irresistible imp may have been made in the late 1940s.

What is not to love about this fine fellow?
The catalog pictures suggest his condition is quite wonderful, and his happy-go-lucky expression lights up any room. Artificial silk plush is a delicate fabric which loses its shine and soft texture easily, so to find a vintage example which still has its "sheen" is unusual. Although his paw pads are not specifically called out, Steiffgal has a much loved, artificial silk plush Steiff Teddy baby from this similar time period in her collection. She has linen paw pads. That might just be the case for lot #3977 as well.

Steiffgal's second pick is also quite the head turner.
This is lot #4234, an early postwar brown mohair Teddy Baby with all IDs and a million watt smile. His starting bid is 220 euro and he is cataloged as, "teddy-baby, produced 1949-53, with button, chest label and cloth tag label, No. 7322, original condition without damage , additional with US-zone cloth tag label, paws in very good condition, 22 cm, nice full mohair, condition without damage."

The auction catalog photos suggest that this sweet guy is in practically like new condition. Steiffgal is always a little sad when it is clear that a precious toy was not loved by a child as it was intended. On the other side of the coin, this example would make for a crown jewel in any collection, so there is some justice there. Over time, Teddy Baby bears have been produced in sizes ranging from a few inches to over five feet! In Steiffgal's opinion, the smaller sized ones - like this guy - are particularly appealing in their scale, presentation, and proportions. He would be easy to display, doesn't take up too much shelf or cabinet space, and would look charming as a companion for a larger scaled doll or Ted from any era.

And last but not least, check out lot #4314, a super sweet - and super rare - prewar white Teddy Baby.
His starting bid is 520 euro. He is cataloged as, "teddy-baby, white, with button, long stretched F, breast sign, inscription Teddy Baby, inset velvet in face and velvet feet, with painted claws, 13 cm, produced from 1930 to 1933, white mohair, except of minimally place with mohair loss in very nice condition, very expressive, unusual, collection Koskinen."

There's something really magical about white mohair Teddy Baby bears.
Unlike their blonde and brown mohair peers, the white versions were made for only a handful of years - from 1930 to 1933 overall. Blonde and brown mohair versions appeared from 1930 to 1943. As such, far fewer white mohair versions were produced over time, and most collectors would love to add one to their hugs. Like most coveted collectibles, it’s a supply and demand thing, and Steiffgal suspects this petite treat will be on many auction watchers' wish lists. It is also interesting to note that this example comes from the Koskinen collection. Edith and Johan Koskinen authored several well respected Steiff reference books and price guides over the years. You can see a few of them here on the left, the photo is from Bloss Auktionen. His top shelf provenance certainly adds to his appeal - if that's even possible!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Teddy Baby auction highlights has brought out a bit of your inner child today!

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

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Eyes Have It With This Adorable Prewar Steiff Kitten

Looking for a little something to tickle your whiskers this fine fall day? Then check out this short but sweet note from a new friend. Jenny needs help identifying a precious pet. Could it be made by Steiff? She shares,

"I was wondering if you could help me identify an old possibly Steiff cat... It feels like wool and stuffed with wood. Thanks!"

What a pretty kitty! From the looks of him, Jenny's kitten looks to be sitting, probably head jointed, and made from wool plush, not mohair. Wool plush has a more fluid, continuous look and feel to it, while mohair tends to have more of a prickly "hooked rug" appearance where the fabric backing meets up with the surface fibers. The fact that he is "stuffed with wood" is consistent with his stuffing being made from excelsior. Other distinctive features of this example include traces of airbrushed highlighting on its body, tiny pink claws, clear monofilament whiskers on his nose and forehead, a tail that wraps gently around his backside, a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth, and piercing teal and black slit style pupil eyes. His size is noted at 6.5 inches tall, or nearly 17 cm tall. 

All of those factors help to cat-alyze his likely identification.
It is possible that Jenny's kitty is a rare and well loved example of the company's seldom seen prewar sitting wool plush cat. This appealing pattern was made in 10, 14, 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1929 through 1933 overall. All of these fancy felines left the factory wearing a large silken ribbon. You can see this wool plush rarity pictured here on the left, the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment. You can't help but notice the basic resemblance of this wool plush cat pattern to the company's most beloved sitting Susi cat design. She was produced prewar in 14, 17, 22 and 28 cm from 1936 through 1943, and then again postwar from 1948 through 1978 in 10, 12, 14, 17 and 22 cm
The timing of all of this is quite interesting.
The cat under review today was made at a critical time point in the company's history. Germany entered a period of economic depression and widespread unemployment in 1929 while growing anti-German sentiment crippled Steiff's export markets. These realities triggered a number of fundamental product design, production, and distribution changes at Steiff. One very noteworthy revision was the increased use of substitute fabrics in manufacturing. As traditional toy making materials became more expensive and more challenging to source, the company started to look at alternative fabrics to use in place of mohair. This may explain why this cat debuted in wool plush - a less expensive and readily available fabric - exactly at this time. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of this prewar cat has added a purr-fectly pleasant paws to your day.

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