Saturday, December 31, 2022

These Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion Auction Highlights Are Dressed To The Nines!

Three's a charm when it comes to the third post in this blog series of auction highlight from Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's January 21st, 2023 Collection of Susan Kilgore Wiley sale. It's no secret that Steiffgal goes all hubba-hubba over Steiff's utterly charming dressed dolls and animals. And, this sale offers some of the most appealing ones in memory. Check out this trio of well attired prewar offerings from this auction. Steiffgal is certain you will consider all of them a clothes call indeed.

This first dressed highlight doesn't have a hare out of place.
It is lot #6152, an all original and early Steiff Peter Rabbit. It is estimated at €650-€1,300, and is cataloged in part as:

"One of the highlights of the auction, exceptional hare, Peter, around 1910, with small button, block letters, long trailing f, shoe button eyes, underlaid with red felt, fine brown/beige velvet, attending, with original felt jacket, decorative seams and golden buttons, red slippers, 1 leather sole with original stamp, 1 felt slipper is a bit holey, and small holes on the blue felt jacket, standing height 26 cm, extremely rare, exceptional."

Steiff's turn of last century Peter Rabbit dolls top many collector's bucket lists. This well coutured example is in lovely condition and is a marvelous size. It is interesting to note that the exact details that make up a Steiff "Peter Rabbit" are not specifically identified in Pfeiffer's Sortiment books. It is generally understood amongst collectors that a "Steiff Peter Rabbit" is standing, unjointed, and wears a felt topcoat with buttons and embroidery and felt slippers with leather soles. The Sortiment book pictures two versions of standing rabbits wearing felt topcoats and slippers, but does not identify them as "Peter Rabbit." The first is a spotted velvet version wearing a red or navy topcoat and red slippers; he was produced in 10, 22, and 28 cm from 1904-1919. The second is a white wool plush version wearing a green felt topcoat and red slippers; he was produced in 22 cm from 1904-1918.

This next auction highlight is a pair with flair!
Here we have lot #6181, two early 20th century, fully jointed, center seamed Steiff felt dolls. They are estimated at €330-€660 and are cataloged in part as:

"Felt dolls, Anton & Lisl, Upper Bavarian, produced between 1909 and 1926, 28 cm, with traditional costume, felt-head, mohair-hair, felt body, jointed, arms and legs, original, clothes, very nice condition."

This darling duo are textbook examples of   Steiff's "children" style dolls. 
These guys appeared in the line from 1909 through the late 1920's. Unlike earlier Steiff dolls that were more caricatured, harsh, and designed for adult collectors, these dolls were realistically proportioned, had gentle personalities, and angelic, rosy faces. They truly were designed for child's fun and play. These models were all fully jointed and had felt heads and bodies - except right around WWI when felt was scarce and the bodies were sometimes made from rough cotton or linen type materials. Steiff's children dolls were all dressed head to toe in handmade clothing that included school uniforms, ethnic costumes, sporting attire, and “Sunday best." Steiffgal is certain that the boy is Anton, based on his outfit and presentation. However, she is not 110% certain the identity of the girl is Lisl as her outfit does not match the one pictured in Pfeiffer's Sortiment. Steiffgal also suspects that her clothing, however charming, is not entirely original to her. Nonetheless, the pair is simply wonderful.

And it's tag, you're it! when it comes to our final well dressed auction highlight.
This is lot #6114, a late prewar standing and dressed rabbit doll, estimated at €180-€360. She is cataloged in part as:

"Pupp-hare, Mike, with button, block letters, long trailing f, very nice good preserved, yellow cloth tag label, No. 22, wool plush at hands and feet, original traditional costume, 27 cm, very nice condition."

And just want makes this lovely lady a 10?
She's got a fantastic presentation, and is in delightful, all original condition. And if you look closely at her tag, it is says "22,11." Numbers don't lie here! Her digits mean 22 cm tall (measured without ears), while the number 11 corresponds to her costume as described by the company. Outfit #11 translates to "traditional costume with green checkered skirt, green corsage, and white shirt." Spot on! These utterly charming, dressed rabbit dolls appeared in the line in 14, 22, and 28 cm in maize or white plush from 1932-1943 overall. Eleven total outfits for these rabbits were produced; they ranged from pajamas to playsuits to trousers and dresses through regional outfits like the one featured on this premier example. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on these well dressed auction highlights has contributed to the fabric of your collecting life. 

For more information about Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH's upcoming Special Steiff Auction event on January 21st, please click here!

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

Monday, December 26, 2022

These Wheeled Wonders Up For Auction Soon Will Send Your Pulse Into 5th Gear!

We continue our series on auction highlights from Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's January 21st, 2023 Collection of Susan Kilgore Wiley sale with a focus on AMAZING pull toys. It goes without saying that all the temptations in this sale are simply WAH-HOO good, but some are the "wheel-deal," too! Check out these three breathtaking rarities on the go that send Steiffgal's pulse into fifth gear!

Size defies with this first auction highlight.
Here we have lot #6187, a happy handful of a bear who is clearly off to the races. He is cataloged in part as: 

"Rare Record teddy, in the small manufactured size, height: 10 cm, 1924-1927, on a self-propelling vehicle with motion, with original drawstring, with button, block letters, long trailing f, glass eyes, a little bit flash rust, mohair is a bit thin." He has an opening bid of 280 €.

Many of us are familiar with Steiff's charming "Record" animals - those sitting sweeties on a four wheeled cart
. They appear to move back and forth as their vehicles are pulled along. This is due in part to their slightly looser jointing and clever engineering. Record animals and dolls are mostly seen in the c. 20 cm+ size. This one is really, really charming given its teeny, tiny proportions - he's the smallest sized Record bear made by Steiff, ever. His pattern was produced in 10 and 15 cm in blond or gold mohair from 1924-1927. He literally fits in the palm of your hand, and would be insanely adorable as the prized toy in the arms of a very lucky medium to larger scaled bear or doll from any era. And he is RARE! The only other tiny Record Teddy Steiffgal knows of sold at Christies in 2010 for 6,250 GBP.

Our next wheeled highlight proves the saying, "two heads are better than one."
Here we have lot #6050, a stunning Steiff Roly Droly. This bear-pair is cataloged in part as: 

"Tricycle, wood, with 2 turning pre-war bears, 1x golden yellow, 1x white, with button and red cloth tag label, block letters, long trailing f, very nice condition, length: 20 cm, depth: 19 cm, height: 16 cm, extremely rare, sticks were later glued." The Roly Droly has an opening bid of 550 €.

This fantastic novelty is head spinning for a number of reasons, including its rarity, presentation, and condition.
Roly Poly pull toys were made in the mid-1920s through the mid-1930s, and were produced with a number of different "passengers." These included two chicks, two bears, a chick and rabbit, a dog and a cat, and two rabbits, among others. These novelties were specifically produced and designed as hands-on play toys. And toys - especially with moving parts or designed for rough play - wear out, fall apart, or just get lost to time. For example, think about Steiff skittles. Those were designed as a sporting game, so losses and wear on skittle pins and balls are almost expected! This Roly Droly shows just a touch of playwear, and has, or needs, some simple restoration with one of its poles. Nonetheless, this example is so appealing, and so seldom seen, that it just may go into overdrive when the bidding begins.

And finally, let's take a look at just what may be the Maserati of this wheeled category - and maybe the entire sale.
Here we have lot #6071... a breathtakingly rare Record Petsy. It is cataloged in part as:

"Rare Record-Petsy, produced around 1928-1929, length: 25 cm, brown pointed mohair, blue glass eyes, bright embroidering at snout, with seam at the middle of head, with button, block letters, long trailing f, minimally rests of the white cloth tag label, smaller mohair loss at the thighs and at the hand, very nice strong colors of the mohair, red wood wheels, extremely expressive." It has an opening bid of 1,300 €.

Collectors can't seem to get enough of Steiff's Petsy the Baby bear.
 In July, 2022, Ladenburg sold a 72 cm version of this blue-eyed beauty for 42,000
 €! This classic bear design only appeared in the line for a few years in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Like several of the company's mid- to late 1920s popular designs, Petsy was made into several theme and variation novelties, including a music box, a puppet, a purse, and this pull toy. Record Petsy was made in 20 or 25 cm from 1928-1929 only. According to Cieslik's Button In Ear reference book, only 1,462 examples were made. Steiffgal has only seen two of these - ever! One was at the Steiff museum in Giengen (pictured here on the left along with some other fantastic "high rollers") and one at the Spielzeug Welten Museum in Basel. So this Record Petsy is in remarkable, and exclusive, company indeed.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on these wheeled auction highlights has been thrilling, in a round-about sort of way.

For more information about Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH's upcoming Special Steiff Auction event on January 21st, please click here!

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

Monday, December 19, 2022

Tag - You're It - With These Amazing Steiff Rarities From Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's January, 2023 Sale

Here's something incredibly fantastic to look forward to! Mark your calendars for Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH's Steiff Special Auction on January 21st, 2023. The catalog has just been published online in German and English. It features nearly 200 breathtaking Steiff, Schuco, and Bing rarities from the collection of the late Susan Kilgore Wiley. Mrs. Wiley had an amazing eye for gorgeous prewar toys. Half of her antique plush collection will be sold as part of this January, 2023 event, and the second half will be offered through Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion at their July 1, 2023 Steiff Special Auction in Giengen, Germany. 

This January sale offers so many WAH-HOO GOOD options, it's almost impossible to pick highlights.
That being the case, let's look at the "cream of the crop" per category over the next few weeks. We'll kick off this auction review here today with a peek at extremely rare items with great ID. 

Size defies with this first January auction highlight. It is lot #6074, a supersized, midcentury Lulac rabbit. His starting bid is 180 €. He is cataloged in part as: 

"Lulac, exceptional size, 80 cm, with button, breast sign and yellow cloth tag label, number is partially illegible, breast sign with stronger kinks, cross-eyed with big glass eyes, jointed arms and legs, small faults in the mouth felt insert, exceptional."

It's not going out on a limb to say how exceptional this rabbit truly is.
 His pattern is in Steiff's beloved "lulac" scale. These legacy items have mile-long limbs and torsos. Lulac animals made their debut in 1952. The first to appear was a 43 cm rabbit. Like the example under discussion here, he was made from caramel mohair and his hands and feet were detailed with especially shaggy mohair. This original lulac rabbit pattern was also produced in 60 cm; the 43 cm version was in the line from 1952-1974, while the larger size made a more limited appearance from 1964-1966. Mrs. Wiley's supersized example has awesome adjustable black and blue glass google eyes retains his button, ear tag, and named chest tag as his Steiff IDs. He is the first of his type Steiffgal has ever seen.

As far as Steiffgal can tell, there is no mention in any of the standard reference books of an 80 cm version of this lulac rabbit. It is possible that he was made in very small quantities as a window display animal. Other early 1950s lulac items included a 35 cm donkey, a 40 cm elephant, a 90 cm tiger, an 80 cm poodle, and an 80 cm lion. All of these models were mohair, fully jointed, and were produced exclusively for the United States market and only for a year or so. Given the proportions of some of those early post war lulac exclusives, it is also possible that this extra large lulac rabbit was made as part of that series, but never went into full production for some reason.

This second auction highlight also doesn't have a hare out of place.
Here we have lot #6004, a prewar bunny named Ossi. His starting bid is 60 €. He is cataloged in part as:

"Ossi, wool plush, sitting, with button, block letters, long trailing f, swivel head, white/brown spotted, 16 cm seat height, big glass eyes, with breast sign, red inscription, small mohair loss below the right eye."

It's time to play the name game with this hoppy handful. Ossi was produced in five sizes ranging from 4 to 15 cm from 1938-1943 overall. His design elements, including his wartime era fabric, proportional eyes, and his simple hand embroidered nose and mouth, are typical to the late 1930s production era at Steiff. But what's most interesting about Ossi is that he was the first "named" rabbit produced by Steiff. All others before him were simply called "hase" or "rabbit." What are the odds that this example of Steiff's first named rabbit would retain his his "Ossi" chest tag? Steiffgal had never seen an Ossi before this one  - with or without IDs!

Steiff started to give adorable or endearing names to its standard line items starting in the 1920s.
It was at that time that Molly the Puppy, Fluffy the Cat, Charly the King Charles Spaniel, Jocko the Chimp, and many other legacy named patterns were introduced. But it was not until 1938 - about a decade and a half later - that Steiff gave a playful name to a rabbit in its line. It is possible that "Ossi" is a play on the German word "Ostern" which translates to "Easter." It's also just a very sweet name for a bunny in any language.

And three's a charm when it comes to our third auction highlight in this can't bear to miss sale.
Here we have lot #6045, a precious prewar panda bear. He has an opening bid of 280 €. He is cataloged in part as:

"Panda, with button, long trailing f, writing "Panda-Bär", red with afterwards up-painted heart, mohair-plush, 2-colored, tricot paws, 26 cm, minimally mohair loss around the snout, otherwise very good condition, rare."

Pandas are a great example of Steiff using news headlines and cultural trends for product development ideas. These black and white beauties began appearing "in the flesh" in several major zoos across the globe in the late 1930s. They immediately rocketed to international superstar status. Piggybacking on the success of their real-life cousins, pandas made their debut in the Steiff line in 1938; by 1939, they were being produced in 15 and 30 cm on a commercial scale through 1942 overall. This fantastic example, with his long trailing "f" button and breathtaking named, red imprinted chest tag, is most likely from the earliest part of that time time. 

Steiff's debut pandas were five ways jointed and made from black and white mohair.
Their faces were detailed with brown and black pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, and an small scaled, open, peach colored felt lined mouth. The black circles around their eyes and the black stripe across their backs were created by hand airbrushing. Because of wartime material shortages, some models - like the one under discussion here today - were produced with linen or other alternative fabrics in the place of felt on their hand and foot paw pads.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on these rare, named Steiff auction lots has bid up your interest in this upcoming sales event!

Sunday, December 11, 2022

You'll Be All Ears Over This Happy Hoppy Hybrid Hare!

Talk about a rare hare... combined with LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT! That's was exactly Steiffgal's reaction when it came to an absolute rarity she spotted on eBay recently. Take a look at this remarkable little Steiff prewar rabbit... and just try not to fall in love with it as well!

This tiny guy is a super cool bunny made as a woolen miniature, but with mohair detailing. He is pictured here on the left and the photo is from ebay. According to the eBay listing, he is a..."Rare Steiff Wool Rabbit is approximately 5 inches high. Has mohair ears with underscored FF button. Glass eyes. 1935-1939." Additionally, he is lined in wires and is poseable, probably head jointed, and detailed with glass pupil eyes and a small painted mouth. Steiffgal suspects he left the factory in Giengen with clear monofilament whiskers. This happy handful was made in 7 and 10 cm (measured without ears) in light brown and white or all white from 1935-1939 overall.

Steiff's woolen miniatures debuted in the very early 1930s. They were introduced as a low cost, entry level priced line for the company at a challenging economic period. The first woolies were birds and bunnies; their natural forms and shapes were easily interpreted in Nomotta wool pom-poms of different sizes and color combinations. As time went on, Steiff produced more and more elaborate woolen miniatures with greater detailing. These included other materials - like lace and ribbons - and accessories - like perches, voice boxes, and aviaries - in their designs in addition to Nomotta pom-poms.

In the mid 1930s, Steiff made a number of woolen miniatures that included relatively expensive woolen mohair fabric.
This material was used to create the ears of several different dogs (including a St. Bernhard, Chin-Chin, and King Charles Spaniel), a few rabbits (including one on skis), and even a really unusual Teddy bear made from long white yarns. Given their elaborate construction, like the rabbit under discussion here today, Steiffgal suspects that the introduction of these "hybrid" mohair/woolen miniatures was Steiff's way of "upscaling" the woolen miniature line a bit. The mohair ears were "stitched into" the core of woolen threads to keep them in place... or at least that is how the mohair ears on the woolen miniature Teddy bear are engineered. You can see this terrific Ted pictured here on the left; he was made in 22 cm from 1936-1938.

Today, it is extremely rare to find Steiff's highly sought after woolen miniatures with mohair features on the secondary market.
That is one reason Steiffgal was tickled pink to see this one on eBay. Given their appeal and petite scale, it is very possible that many were "loved to death" and simply lost to time over the years. Steiffgal also suspects that in reality, very few were actually made. The mid- to late 1930s were really tough years in Germany and it is quite probable that supply chain and labor issues really limited the number actually manufactured and sold during that time. And, of course, any enthusiast lucky enough to have one of these absolute rarities in their collection already is probably not in any rush to move it along! It's just supply vs. demand at its finest. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on woolen miniatures with mohair features has been a cheerful earful for you. 

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

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Sit and Stay and Check Out This Tiny Steiff Mechanical Marvel!

Now who is a good dog? Those are every puppy's favorite words, and in some ways, Steiffgal's as well! Check out this happy handful of a Steiff 'herd... German Shepherd, that is! This prewar treasure packs a lot of features and design elements into a very small body. He'll have you smiling ear to ear for sure.

This blue ribbon buddy is Steiff's tail-turns-head German Shepherd dog.
He is 15 cm tall, sitting, and made from wool plush (that has practically been entirely loved off.) His cheerful face comes alive with pert triangular ears; brown and black glass pupil eyes; a black hand embroidered nose; and an open, felt lined, smiling mouth. He is solidly stuffed with excelsior, which is a manufacturing feat in itself, given how small he is, and how narrow his limbs are. The excelsior stuffing holds his metal tail-moves-head apparatus in place; it would tend to shift or settle if it was packed in kapok or other lighter filling. This mechanism enables his head to move in a circle when his sweet little tail is twisted. 
This little lovely was made in 15, 18, 23, 29, and 36 cm from 1931-1935 overall. 

One of the most astonishing things about this example is his IDs.
They are great in themselves, but it is sort of a miracle that they even exist at all, given how much love and use this guy clearly has had over the years. He wears his all original brown leather collar. It is held together with two long trailing "F" Steiff buttons. He also retains his original, red imprinted, watermelon shaped named chest tag. It is interesting that on the back of the chest tag, it is stamped "Int. pat. app. for" meaning "International Patent Applied For". Steiff was very proud of its tail-moves-head technology, and other companies were starting to copy it starting in the early 1930s. It really is amazing that he still has his collar and tag, given how ephemeral they really are, relative to his sturdy overall construction.

This pretty puppy has a great place in Steiff's prewar and early midcentury German Shepherd production history.
German Shepherds have been featured almost continuously in the line since 1923. Perhaps the best known Steiff German Shepherd design is Arco, who was introduced in 1935 but got his name in 1937. Pre-war Arco was made from mohair and had prominent, felt lined ears and a smiling, open, felt lined mouth. He was made standing on wheels (in 35, 43, 50, 60, and 70 cm), standing (in 14, 22, 28, 35, 43, 50, and 60 cm), and sitting (in 17, 22, and 28 cm) from 1937 to 1943. During this time, Arco was sometimes also referred to as "The Police Dog." As one of Steiff's most beloved late pre-war dog designs, early Arco again graced the line from 1951-1956 in the form of a 10, 17, and 22 cm standing version. These guys strongly resembled their pre-war pattern. A 43 and 50 cm standing version on wheels was also manufactured from 1949-1956.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this tiny Steiff treasure has brought a big slice of joy to your day.

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

Thursday, November 17, 2022

This 1930s Steiff Tail-Turns-Head Novelty Is Simply Ele-Fantastic!

Steiff wishes can come true! Check out this note from Carey, a new friend from north of the border. She was gifted a jumbo surprise from her husband - one that just happens to be simply ele-fantastic. Steiffgal is certain you'll agree. She shares in part:

"Hi Steiffgal! I’m emailing from Ontario, Canada. Yesterday my husband gifted me an amazing find from Kijiji from an elderly couple who were downsizing. The elephant belonged to the woman’s father, and they immigrated to Canada from Poland.

Our new blushy pink/mauve Steiff elephant, based on what I could find from the button, is I think from the 30s. The tail makes the head move in a circle and the trunk is posable. It’s stuffed with straw, and due to the wear of the mohair around the foot pads, which are heavy felt, you can see black toes stamped onto the fabric. It’s about 8" tall, and the body excluding the tail and trunk is about 10" long. If it made any sounds when it was new, it doesn’t now."

There's not a drop of junk in the truck when it comes to this playful pachyderm.
This tail-move-head example is standing, head jointed, and made from mohair which has mellowed to a light pink color over time. This sometimes happens with originally grey mohair over time. His pads are made from grey felt, and his prominent tusks are made from white felt. He comes to life with floppy ears, black button eyes (which may be backed in felt - but it’s not clear from his photos) and a smiling, open mouth. His red and yellow felt blanket with bells is original to him. When you twist his mohair tipped tail in a circle, his head moves 360 degrees as well. This amazing tail-moves-head elephant was produced in 18, 23, and 29 cm from 1931-1934 overall; Carey's example is most likely the 18 cm version.

Steiff introduced its patented tail-moves-head line in 1931.
These nifty novelties were made with an internal metal movement mechanism that enabled the heads to move in a circle when the tails were rotated. These items were stuffed with excelsior to hold this mechanism firmly in place. Tail-moves-head animals appeared in the line from the early 1930s - early 1940s; over time, about 25 different examples were made. The line included cats, dogs, rabbits, penguins, goats, and lambs, and even Mickey Mouse! Most were based on popular designs of the ear, but a few - like a bulldog - were brand new patterns. These tail-moves-head items were considered luxury toys of the time. You can see Carey's elephant in action in the video above. 

Carey's elephant appeared on the cover of a 1931 marketing brochure titled "1931 Addendum to the Main Catalogue."
The other "cover girls and boys" included a Scotty, penguin, tabby Bulldog, Rattler Terrier, Molly, chimp, Fox Terrier, lamb, cat, and goat. The copy on the brochure, in part, translates to:

"The year 1931 has presented us with the animals with the new head movement… The simplicity of the mechanism, though which the splendid movement is produced, cannot be beaten, yet it is unbreakable and allows lifelike play, full of variety and mimics… When buying new supply in plush toys please be sure to include the STEIFF animals with the new head movement; all numbers equipped with it are marked ‘H.’" You can see this brochure cover here on the left; you can click on the image to make it bigger. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this really rare elephant has made a huge impression on you.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

This Cool Cat Novelty Is Really Hot Stuff!

Brrr... the temperature has shifted from 80 degrees to 40 degrees overnight so it’s definitely time to share something Steiff-y to warm the heart and soul! Check out this amazing cat doll that does double duty... making her totally hot stuff indeed. Have you ever seen this hybrid treasure before?

This Steiff functional novelty is called "Cook Cat Coffee Cozy."
She is 43 cm tall and is arm and head jointed. Her body and arms are made from red felt to resemble a shirt, her skirt is made from green felt, and her head and hands are made from white mohair. She wears her original white cotton apron. She come to life with pert triangular felt ears, early style green and black slit pupil glass eyes, and a hand embroidered pink nose and mouth. Her hollow body is lined in double thick felt to keep a pot of coffee, tea, or cocoa warm. She was made in this size only from 1906-1910.

Cook Cat Coffee Cozy was also produced with a bear's head or a rabbit's head. These heads were identical to the current rabbit and bear designs of the early 20th century. These cousins also measured 43 cm tall. The bear appeared in the line from 1906-1908 and the rabbit appeared in the line from 1906-1909. Like the cat version, these featured a mohair head and hands and were dressed in a red felt shirt, a green felt skirt, and a white apron. This happy group is a good example of Steiff's long tradition of "form and variation" - modifying a popular design slightly to produce a number of "new" products for their catalogs. You can see a picture of the "Cook Rabbit Coffee Cosy" here on the left; the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment book.

Cook Cat Coffee Cozy - and her bear and rabbit friends - are based on Steiff's earliest character coffee warmer which debuted in 1904.
This was a cozy in the form of Mama Katzenjammer from the popular comic strip the Katzenjammer Kids. She was called "Cook Coffee Cozy." Cook Coffee Cozy also wore a red and green felt dress and white apron, but had a felt head and fingered hands that resembled her character. Cook Coffee Cozy was made in four sizes ranging from 43-100 cm from 1904 through 1943 overall. Her longevity in the line indicates how popular she was over nearly four decades. 
You can see a picture of the "Cook Coffee Cosy" here on the left; the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment book. 

This fantastic feline fits right into Steiff's early 20th century product development timeline and history.
The Giengen company is well known for producing functional novelties for home, school, and work use in addition to the company's plush animal, doll, and bear production. This tradition goes back to the late 1800s, when Margarete Steiff produced and marketed a series of oversized, embroidered felt "pockets" designed as newspaper holders, bed wall bags, duster holder bags, and brush holders, among others. Other early and mostly prewar novelties include egg cosies, pen wipes, and pincushions. These rarities are treasured among collectors today.

Steiffgal hopes you found this discussion on Cook Cat Coffee Cozy the pause that refreshes.

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

Saturday, October 29, 2022

This Precious Prewar Pug On Wheels Stands And Delivers!

As she continues to celebrate the arrival of her newly adopted sister-pugs, Steiffgal thought it was the perfect moment to share a special button-in ear version of the beloved breed.
Dogs have always been an important design category for Steiff, so it should be no surprise that the first flat-faced cutie was introduced in the Steiff catalog in 1916. Take a look at this very early pug on the go and see what makes him so delightful from the design and product development perspectives.

This happy traveler is 22 cm tall (not including his wheels) and made from grey mohair.
He is standing, unjointed, and solidly stuffed with excelsior. He has black hand embroidered claws on each of his feet. His distinctive face comes to life with proportional brown and black glass pupil eyes (which may be replaced), a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and black lines on his forehead - to give him his breed-specific wrinkled forehead. His pert ears are lined in velvet, and he has a very curly tail. He retains his small trailing "f" button and traces of his white paper ear tag as his Steiff IDs.

Now let's dig deeper into his detailing.
Pug wears a leather collar, which may or may not be original to him, but is appropriate in materials, design, age, and fit. His pull cord has been lost to time. Pug is mounted to two metal rods and rides upon four wooden eccentric wheels. It is interesting to note that this pattern, unlike many other dog patterns, only came on wheels, and was not produced sitting or in any other configuration. Pug on wheels was produced in 17 cm and 22 cm from 1916-1927.

Like many of the Steiff pets debuting in the 19-teens, this perky pug has a proportional and literal design.
The key pug breed elements - a flat muzzle, wrinkled forehead, and a curly tail - are very well represented in his pattern. For the most part, Steiff's dogs, cats, rabbits, and other popular pets introduced in the c. 1910-1920 time frame were not as basic as the company's earliest patterns, but did not have the youthful, often goofy or playful appearances of those items designed in the 1920s through early 1930s. Items from around 1925 onward often featured oversized eyes, brightly colored materials, and rounded faces, bodies, and limbs. As such, Steiff's second pug - introduced in 1925 as its first pug pattern was being phased out - was a truly silly looking sitting pup with exaggerated facial features and a larger than life red felt tongue. He appeared in the line from 1925 - 1927 in 14 cm. He is pictured on the left; the photo is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the company's early Pug on wheels has captured your interested in a round-about sort of way.

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

Monday, October 17, 2022

Care To Go On A Date With This Prewar Steiff Scotty?

It's never appropriate to ask someone how old they are - right? But in this case, this vintage Steiff friend proudly advertises his "birthday" in a very special, and very prominent, way. Intrigued? Then check out this little black Scotty and his amazing and informative chest tag to learn more.

Here we have Steiff's 1930s-era Scotty dog. He is standing on all fours, head jointed, and solidly stuffed with excelsior. He has a non-working side squeaker in his torso. He measures 12 cm tall and 18 cm long, not including his tail. He is made from black mohair, with a longer mohair beard. His pert triangular ears are lined in felt. He comes to life with a black hand embroidered nose and lovely white, black, and brown glass pupil eyes in the shape of almonds. He retains his long trailing "f" button, trace of his red ear tag, and his named chest tag as his IDs. This pattern was made in 8, 10, 14, 17, 22, 25, 28, and 35 cm in grey or black or dark grey from 1930-1943 overall.

Now let's take a closer look at his chest tag.
It is amazing how much information is squeezed onto this tiny piece of cardboard measuring just a pinch more than 1/2" in diameter. The design features Steiff's prewar and angular yellow and blue Teddy bear face. Its center copy reads in red: SCOTTY, D.R. Patent, U.S. Patented Jan. 9, 1932. This means that the Scotty pattern was registered in D.R. - which is short for "Deutsches Reich," the constitutional name for the German nation state that existed from 1871 to 1945. The tag also gives the EXACT date that the design was also patented in the United States - January 9, 1932!

The vast number of Steiff prewar chest tags simply had the bears, animal, or doll's name noted in the center of the label. However, it is interesting to note that in some cases, like this one, that the tag also specifically mentioned that the item's patent protection status in the United States. For example, check out the tags on a 14 cm Molly and a 10 cm Tabby from the 1920s as pictured here on the left. Both have the  on this words, "Reg. U.S. Pat. Off." on their chest tags as well.

Scotty, Tabby, and Molly were extremely popular 1920s-era patterns. So it would be reasonable to assume that the Steiff management team in Germany was concerned about other companies - especially those in America - "stealing" these beloved designs. Steiff's business in the USA was really booming in the mid-1920s through early 1930s, partially due to the efforts of Richard Steiff. He moved to the States in the early 1920s with his family to grow the family business, alongside the company's US distributor, George Borgfeldt & Company. For Steiff to take the time and expense to register their designs with the US Patent Office says suggested that they really meant business when it came to design intellectual property, that they were in the United States market for the long run, and that they wanted to perhaps "American-ize" their line, making it less foreign or exotic, to add to its marketing appeal and potential.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on chest tag details has had patent appeal with you. 

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

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Good Things Come In Threes With This Fabulous Prewar Steiff Duck Chain

It's time to get your ducks in a row and check out this next marvelous Steiff find. It's hard to believe that this family of fine feathered friends was most likely made over a century ago - they appear practically brand new today. Who wouldn't want to feather their Steiff nest with them? They are truly "aligned" in so many interesting ways....and here's why!

Good things come in threes with this duck family trio. It consists of a larger mother duck - measuring about 10 cm tall and 14 cm wide - and two baby ducks - measuring about 6 cm tall and 9 cm wide each. All the ducks are unjointed and are solidly stuffed with excelsior. They have grey felt bodies and green felt wings and heads. Their wings are decorated with yellow embroidery to look like feathers. Their beaks, legs, and feet are made from orange felt, and their eyes are little black buttons. The mother retains her original grey silk neck ribbon. The mother is cataloged as article number "2110,42 ex," and the two ducklings are cataloged as article number "2106 ex." These numbers translate to:  2= lying; 1=felt; 10= 10 cm and 06= 6 cm; 42= simple pattern with a voice; and ex= eccentric wheels. The mother and one of the ducklings retain their tiny raised script button in one foot.

Now let's check out their fabulous rides! Mom is mounted on a square metal wire carriage which glides along on four green wooden eccentric wheels. When she is pulled, she waddles and makes a peep which is generated by a little movement activated voice box embedded in her belly. You can see this feature illustrated in the photo at the end of this post. She also has a green and white twine pull string that looks period, if not original, to her. Each of her babies is mounted on a diamond shaped metal wire carriage which rides upon two green wooden eccentric wheels. They also waddle about when they are rolling along. There are loops and hooks at the end of the carriages to keep the family linked together. 

Steiff's beloved felt "duck chain" parade was a legacy item in the early 20th century. It was produced in two standard line versions: a mom with two ducklings or a mom with five ducklings. Both versions appeared in the line from 1917-1932 overall. From 1919-1921, this duck chain was produced in a substitute plush material because felt was in short supply for toy making purposes during and shortly after World War I. Steiff's signature duck chain novelties were marketed as, "This waddling felt duck with brightly colored fathers is fixed onto solidly built, eccentric wooden wheels, which provide the duck with its characteristic waddle. Also fitted with a deceptively realistic "quack-quack" voice. A droll little toy."

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this duck chain pull toy has really tugged at your heartstrings!

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

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Breakthrough Bear Surprises At Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's Fall 2022 Event!

Auctions always deliver surprises, and that's one of the reasons many collectors love them! Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's recent Steiff sale, held in the wee hours (at least on the East coast!) of Saturday, September 24th, 2022, produced some really outstanding results - especially on some "under the radar" items. Here are three that bubbled to the top, in the most delightful ways possible.

The first head-spinning highlight from this sale was also the top lot in the entire button-in-ear offering. This was lot #3047, a large, lovely, and important prewar white center seamed bear. It was cataloged in part as, "...bear with seam at the middle of head, with button, block letters, long trailing f button, shoe button eyes, white mohair, bright embroidering at snout, 60 cm, felt paws in very good condition, long snapped off arms, hump, nice bright mohair, voice isn't intact, extremely expressive." 

This bear was estimated a €2,500-€5,000, generated 70 bid, and hammered for a whopping €38,000!

This big beauty was certainly the package when it comes to all the things vintage Steiff enthusiasts adore. His white mohair, black eyes, and center seam facial construction checked all the boxes. He also retained his original Steiff button-in-ear, which only added to his appeal. And then of course was his adorable personality and presentation - classic, timeless, and just plain irresistible. It is interesting to note that this cub hammered almost twice that of a Happy Teddy bear (€20,000) or a fine rod bear (€20,000) also sold through this sale.

This next auction highlight is certain to bring a smile to your face.
Here we have lot #3049, an impish, blonde mohair Steiff Dicky bear. He was cataloged in part as, "...with button, red cloth tag label, No. 5322,2, glass eyes, velvet paws, airbrush is partially a bit subtle visible, 34 cm, long snapped off arms, very expressive, mohair is a bit thin at minimally places, otherwise beautiful." 

Dicky was estimated at €950-€1,900, generated 81 bits, and hammered for €14,500.

Dicky bears are among Steiff's most desirable prewar novelty cubs. Steiffgal suspects, but has no proof, that the pattern may have been named in honor of Richard Steiff. Dicky bears were produced at a challenging socio-economic period in Germany and designed with features which made them faster and more efficient to manufacture than Steiff's standard line Teddy bears. Steiff's marketing materials described them as, "A new, improved, and less expensive Steiff Teddy Bear. Attractive design, newly formed head, strong squeeze growler, soft filling, blond or white mohair with painted pads, movable head and joints, famous workmanship." This fine example had a great attitude, retained its premier and fully legible red ear tag and Steiff button... and clearly radiated an "X" factor which spoke to many bidders!

And three's a charm with lot #3037, a terrific Ted from the mid 1920s to early 1930s timeframe.
He was cataloged as, "...exceptional, pre-war era, with button, block letters, faded, red cloth tag label, glass eyes, bright embroidering at snout, white mohair, exceptional size, 75 cm, clearly damages at the felt paws, long snaped off arms, hump, nice, bright mohair, scattered mohair loss, very expressive." 

Big Ted was estimated at €1,200-€2,400, generated 55 bids, and hammered for €6,700. 

This cute cub is good for a few supersized Teddy hugs! He was the second biggest standard sized prewar Teddy bear produced, with the largest being 115 cm. This example - with his oversized glass pupil eyes, fuzzy muzzle, and toddler-esque proportions - perfectly embodied the playful and upbeat aesthetic of "the red ear tag" era. In retrospect, it should have come as no surprise that he caught the hearts, eyes, and wallets of collectors worldwide. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on these three top auction lots has you going for the gold today.

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

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