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!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Check Out All The Doggy Details On This Rare Prewar Steiff Wolfspitz!

What a prize winning beauty!
Steiffgal recently had the pleasure of handling a beautiful prewar pup with the most appealing facial expression and presentation. And she really did come with a blue ribbon - but more about that in a moment! Take a look at this simply lovely sitting sweetie and see what makes her such a top dog in so many ways.

Here we have Steiff's simply wonderful Wolfspitz. She is 22 cm tall, sitting, unjointed, and made from tawny colored mohair. She is solidly stuffed with excelsior. Her face, ears, and legs are made from shorter mohair while her back, tail, back legs, and torso are made from very long matching mohair. She has lifelike brown and black shading on her back and tail. Wolfspitz has three hand embroidered black claws on each paw. Her face comes to life with felt lined ears, brown and black glass pupil eyes, a black embroidered nose and mouth, and brown airbrushed highlights. You can feel her nonworking squeaker in her belly.

This lovely lady was made in 17, 21, 22, and 25 cm from 1934
- 1943 overall. She was also made standing on all fours in 22 and 35 cm from 1934 - 1943 overall, and standing on eccentric wheels in 22 cm from 1934 - 1943. You can see a picture of the Wolfspitz on wheels as pictured in a 1938 company brochure here on the left; she is in the middle row and on the very right hand side of the page. Just click on the image to make it larger. The caption under her reads Wolfspitz, Mohair, 1322 ex, 6.-. The ex refers to her eccentric wheels and the 6.- refers to the price in German marks. Today, 6 marks in 1938 is ROUGHLY the equivalent of $50 in 2022, according to the US Inflation Calculator.   

Besides her striking good looks, this Wolfspitz also is in wonderful condition and retains her long trailing "f" button as well as her all original red ear tag as her IDs.
Her article number is 3322,2. This stands for 3=sitting, 3=mohair, 22=22 cm tall, and ,2=squeaker. According to Pfeiffer's Steiff Sortiment 1892-1943 book, this particular Wolfspitz with this exact numbering only appeared in the line from 1934 - 1936.

Now - what's with her blue ribbon?
Wolfspitz retains her all original red leather collar. She also has a light blue ribbon tied to a metal ring which is part of her collar. When Steiffgal first saw this, she thought maybe a previous owner had put that onto her as a decoration. It turns out that all the Wolfspitz dogs pictured in Pfeiffer's Sortiment also are decorated with a blue ribbon. You can spot the blue ribbon on the photo from that book her on the left. As all collectors can attest, it’s very exciting to find an "almost" antique item which retains this sort of factory original accessory!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this stunning Steiff Wolfspitz has added a beautiful spot to your day.

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

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Fantastic Steiff "Firsts" On Offer Through Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's September 24th, 2022 Event!

Love at first sight! That's the best way to describe some of the temptations coming up for sale at Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's Fall event. This can't miss auction features 107 delightful vintage to antique Steiff selections and will be held on Saturday, September 24th, 2022. Here are three wah-hoo good treasures from this auction that Steiffgal has never seen come up for sale before. Enjoy this "one-derful" eye candy!

Bird's the word when it comes to this first auction debut item highlight. It is lot #3097, a most unusual woolen miniature bird display, estimated at 220-440 euros. It is cataloged in part as:

"Cheerubirds, rare bird tree, 4 x paradise birds, 100 % wool, with rare original breast sign, Blue Bird No. 1509,2, St. Patrick Bird No. 1509,3, Birthday Bird No. 1509,1, St. Valentine Bird, No. 1509,4, 22 cm, probably special design for the American market, extremely rare, unusual."

Who wouldn't love to feather their nest with this fantastic display? According to the Sortiment, this item appeared in the line from 1953-1956 with its own article number of 5204 Ch. Its overall design gives off a great midcentury vibe. But what makes this rarity so special - in addition to its amazing condition - is that each of the birds not only has a chest tag, but a very custom one. Steiffgal cannot think of any other woolen minis that have chest tags, probably due to their construction and size. The birds featured on this display are otherwise standard line "woolen exotic birds" which appeared in the line from 1953-1966; the earliest ones had red metal feet and legs and those from 1956 onward had plastic feet and legs. 

Now let's take a tumble for this next auction debut highlight. This is lot #3073, a felt, fully jointed circus performer doll, estimated at 280-560 euro. It is cataloged in part as:

"Acrobat, produced between 1911-1918, felt, jointed, from the circus series, with button, block letters, long trailing f, blue glass eyes original clothes, 40 cm, felt is a bit darken, small felt faults at 1 hand, and at stomach and at 1 shoulder, otherwise nice condition, exceptional, rare."

This fine, flexible fellow is a wonderful and seldom seen acrobat doll from Steiff's legacy "Schlopsnies Circus" display. This large scale, dynamic, and extremely popular exhibit was designed and created by Steiff doll freelancer Albert Schlopsnies in the c. 1910-1920 time frame. It consisted of over 30 circus themed dolls and acrobats, based on real life performers at the world famous Circus Sarrasani of Dresden, Germany. The acrobat dolls were often posed in death-defying or upside down poses in the displays. Sometimes they were even animated via camouflaged mechanisms. Steiffgal has seen or handled several of this acrobat's colleagues, including clowns, stagehands, and other performers, but she has never seen or handled this acrobat before. 

And last but hardly least, this final debut auction highlight just begs for attention. Here we have lot #3069, a charming prewar canine themed display, estimated at 280-560 euro. It is cataloged in part as:

"Exceptional show piece, Waldi, on a mohair plate, plate partially with a bit mohair loss, height: 30, width: 30 cm, depth: 22 cm, attending, with huntsman's hat, with button, chest label and a  very beautiful preserved red cloth tag label, with No. 4328,2, probably 1930, nice full mohair, breast sign is a bit faded, with small Treff, sitting, 14 cm, swivel head, exceptional, extremely rare."

This probably one of a kind treasure stands and delivers. It features one of Steiff's most beloved and prolific dog designs, Waldi the Dachshund. Waldi is most often on all fours. However, from 1933-1936, he was produced in a begging position in 17, 22, and 28 cm. His red ear tag numbers perfectly corresponds to that, with 4= begging or standing on back legs, 3= mohair, 28=28 cm tall, and ,2=with a voice. So the dog in itself is a total rarity! The fact that he is mounted on a factory original green mohair mat (probably to resemble grass), wears a  typical German style hat, and is accompanied by a perfectly paired and period Treff friend, make him over the top interesting. 

How this rare pair came to be remains a mystery, though. This charming display could have been produced as part of a larger exhibit, assembled by employees and presented to their friend or colleague as a special tribute gift, or perhaps made as a whimsy, end of day, or prototype that never went into production. Only Waldi and Treff know for sure!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on these debut Steiff auction treasures has been like an opening night celebration for you. 

For more information about Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion upcoming Steiff event on September 24th, please click here!

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

Saturday, September 3, 2022

It's A Teddy Bear Affair At Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's September 24th, 2022 Steiff Sale!

Is it time to add something really special to your Steiff collection? Of course it is! Then check out the vintage to antique button-in-ear temptations on offer at Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's upcoming Fall Auction. Over 100 carefully curated Steiff treasures go under the hammer on Saturday, September 24th, 2022. The sale offers some breathtaking examples, including several outstanding prewar bears that caught Steiffgal's eye for their rarity and condition. Check out this terrific trio and just try and resist their charms - and backstories!

This first bear highlight can't help but put you in a jolly mood. This is lot #3040, a lovely and distinctly childlike example of Steiff's Happy bear. He has a starting bid of 1,800 euro. This cub is cataloged in part as, "Happy, one of the highlights of the auction, with button, block letters, long trailing f, big glass eyes, pointed mohair, long snapped off arms, clearly hump, 51 cm, here and there places with mohair loss, very expressive, produced 1926-27, small holes at the felt paws, but otherwise beautiful." 

Happy dates from a joyful time in the company's product development history - the mid to late 1920s. It was during this era that several of Steiff's beloved named, novelty bears were introduced. These included Teddy Rose, Teddy Clown, Petsy, Teddy Baby, and of course, Happy! Happy was produced for a short time - from 1926-1927 only - in relatively low numbers. As such, examples are very few and far between on the secondary market. That is one of the reasons that this fine Ted - in an important size and in sweet condition - should catch the eyes of enthusiasts worldwide. FYI: the most famous version of Happy was purchased by an agent for the Volpp family at Sotheby’s in London in 1989 for £50,000 to celebrate a wedding anniversary; the underbidder was the British Royal Family!

It's no joke that original prewar Teddy Clown bears top the wish lists of many vintage Steiff collectors. And this next highlight is really dreamy in many ways. Here we have lot #3050 - a charming and petite brown tipped Steiff Teddy Clown - with an opening bid is 1,300 euro. He is cataloged in part as, "Clown bear, with button, block letters, long trailing f, produced 1926-27, 25 cm, pointed mohair, at 1 felt paw a hole, mohair is except of 1 place at the right shoulder in good condition, very expressive, original hat and ruff, 25 cm." 

This bear's factory original accessories make him one well attired Ted. But, one question that Steiffgal often hears is, "How do you know the hat and ruff on a Teddy clown are original to it?" Here are a few guidelines. First, make sure that the hat and the ruff have equal wear, loss, dust, or other condition issues to each other, and also to the bear. Technically, the bear, hat, and ruff should be the same age. As such, they should all have had the identical display, play, or storage history. If things don't align in terms of wear or loss, it is possible that the accessories are replaced. Steiffgal has also noticed that original Teddy Clown felt hats are stuffed with excelsior and have a cardboard disk at their base. This is to  hold their shape and to secure them in place. Check for these details. And finally, it has been her observation that for the most part, the color of the pom poms on the hat should match the ruff or its trim. If these are not in the same color family, it is possible that some or all of the accessories are not original to the bear.

And finally, this third terrific Ted is one heavy metal favorite.
Here we have lot #3055, a fantastic and very early Steiff rod jointed bear. 
 His bidding starts at 3,500 euro. He is cataloged in part as, "One of the highlights of our auction, with elephant button, shoe button eyes, original sealing wax nose, peach-colored mohair, 5 claws, produced 1904, retouched felt paws at the feet, clearly distinct hump, long snapped off arms, otherwise mohair in very nice condition, extremely expressive, extremely rare in this color."

There's nothing not to love about this extraordinary bear. His color is off the charts great; his deep apricot mohair looks lush and still radiant after all these years. He retains his elephant button  - as if there were any doubts on his origins or brand! His gutta percha nose is like a tiny work of art with its one of a kind shape and traces of his maker's fingerprints. And his excelsior stuffed body has aged so well. Such tight and heavy filling was necessary to hold his heavy, large metal jointing solidly in place in his torso. Hubba, hubba, hubba!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on these museum-quality Steiff cubs has given you the warm and fuzzies!

For more information about Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion upcoming Steiff event on September 24th, please click here!

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

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Who Is This Tall, Dark, And Handsome Steiff Stranger?

Please say "howdy, partner" to this remarkable Steiff rarity! Steiff's turn of last century dolls have always been Steiffgal's passion. So when she got to handle this rarity, things got pretty wild - but in the best way possible. Check out this mustached marvel and see what makes him WAH-HOO good for so many reasons.

Well, hello handsome! This fellow is named Mexican Cowboy. He is 40 cm tall and fully joined. His head and lower arms are made from felt, and the rest of his body is made from a linen-like material. His weathered face is detailed with black button eyes, a black mohair mustache, a little pink highlighting, black painted eyebrows, and a prominent center facial seam. His fabulous black curly hair is an inset wig and is made from mohair. He retains his long trailing "f" button in ear as his Steiff ID. 

Mexican Cowboy is dressed to the nines in his (almost) all factory original outfit.
It includes a red cotton shirt with tan stitching, wide tan mohair chaps with an open back, and really well made black leather boots. His leather belt with silver detailing is replaced, but perfectly scaled to him. He also wore a blue chambray bandana around his neck, but this has been lost to time. This hard working hunk was produced overall in 40, 45, 55, 70, 100, and 150 cm from 1912 through 1921 overall. The largest ones were most certainly made as display dolls, as they would have been too large and heavy for a child to play with. 

Mexican Cowboy is noted in Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment as to be in "national costume" and representing a category called "nation types." 
Steiffgal suspects that he was produced in conjunction with the company's c. 19-teen era Schlopsnies Circus project. This large scale, dynamic, and extremely popular exhibit was designed and executed by Steiff doll 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. This amazing display garnered a worldwide following and certainly helped in elevating Steiff's dollmaking reputation to global status. 

One of the elements that made the Circus Sarrasani so popular, and unique, was its roster of international talent.
 Original posters, broadsides, photos, and other promotional ephemera from the Circus Sarrasani spotlighted ethnic performers in native costumes, including South American Cowboys, Asian gymnasts, and American Indians, among many others. You can see an example of this on the left. This important detail was noted by Schlopsnies, who included authentic versions of these global ambassadors in his Steiff doll interpretation of the Circus. Steiffgal suspects, given the production timeline of the Mexican Cowboy and the Steiff circus project, that he was in fact produced as part of circus project to bring its important "international" angle to life. And, given all that, it is entirely possible that this doll is based on a real life Mexican Cowboy who appeared in the Circus Sarrasani around 1912 or so.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's Mexican Cowboy doll has been a stampede of fun for you!


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

Sunday, August 14, 2022

You'll Be All Ears Over This Tiny Prewar Steiff Fox Terrier!

Size defies with this couldn't-be-cuter baby Steiff pup!
Steiffgal has a thing for smaller scaled Steiff pets, like cats and dogs. Probably because they pose so well with other larger Teddy bear and doll companions. And you can never have enough friends - especially these days! Check out this happy handful and see what makes him so irresistible and interesting from several perspectives!

What we have here is Steiff's late 1920s era Foxy Fox Terrier.
He is 10 cm tall, standing, head jointed, and made from white mohair. He has very distinctive jet black mohair ears. His face comes to life with proportional brown and black glass pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose and mouth, and black and orange airbrushing around one eye. He also has traces of black airbrushed highlights around the base of his tail. He wears a red collar, but it is not original to him. This darling design was produced in 10, 14, 17, 20, and 22 cm from 1929-1933 overall.

This pup's IDs are very helpful in dating him.
Foxy retains his somewhat rare brass colored trailing "f" button and traces of his yellow ear tag as his IDs. This brass button appeared on some Steiff items from around 1933/34 through 1943. The yellow ear tag debuted on Steiff items starting in the early 1930s. Given all this, it is Steiffgal's best guess that this Foxy pup was "born" at the very end of his production timeline.

This fine Foxy was made at a transitional period in Steiff's product development history.
It is interesting to note that just prior to his introduction in 1929, Steiff debuted another Fox Terrier named Foxy in 1928. 
You can see this Foxy from 1928 in the photo here on the left; the image is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment. The 1928 Foxy design really reflected the playful and optimistic aesthetic of the "roaring 1920s." Like many of the new design introductions of the mid to late 1920s, the 1928 Foxy was very youthful, soft, and playful in design. He had chubby proportions, a round head, oversized eyes placed low on his broad forehead, and a silly felt tongue. He also had distinctive black mohair ears. This "roaring 20s" inspired design was produced sitting and standing through 1933.

Around 1930, Steiff's product design priorities started to take an entirely different direction than those of the 1920s.
Items distributed through the early 1940s tended to be more streamlined, serious, lifelike, and proportional. This probably had something to do with the socio-economic and political realities happening in Germany at the time. The 1929 Foxy under discussion today shares some of the characteristics of his 1928 relative, but is scaled to real life, has smaller eyes, a leaner head shape, and is a bit more pensive in appearance. What a difference a year makes!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this petite prince has been a regal learning experience for you.

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

Thursday, August 11, 2022

This Steiff Primate Makes For One Fantastic Tale Of A Tail!

Now we are truly on a roll!
Steiffgal recently returned from a trip to St. Louis, MO to celebrate all things dolls, bears, and toys at the 2022 United Federation of Doll Clubs annual event. The salesroom associated with this gathering always has some of the finest Steiff temptations on offer - and this year did not disappoint! Check out this charming and unusual Steiff primate on wheels Steiffgal found on opening night of the festivities. You'd have to agree - he makes for one heck of a souvenir!

This handsome and unusual prewar Steiff sweetie pull toy is "officially" named Record Peter. He is 18 cm and fully jointed. He is made from white mohair. His hands, feet, face, and ears are made from tan colored felt. His pensive face comes to life with green and black glass pupil eyes, a seamed mouth, and light purple-ish and pink colored airbrushed highlights on his nose area and forehead. He rides upon a black metal, four-wheeled cart. The centered wheels are solid wood and painted red. When Record Peter is pulled along, his arms and legs move back and forth vigorously, giving the appearance that he’s working hard to keep his cart moving. When he left the factory in Giengen, Germany about a century ago, he had a pull cord attached to the front of his vehicle. Record Peter retains his long trailing "f" button and traces of his white ear tag as his Steiff IDs.

Prewar, Record Peter appeared in the standard Steiff catalog in 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 cm in deep chocolate brown from 1913-1943 and in white in 18 cm from 1925-1934. He was also produced in a few other "surreal" colors, including blue, yellow, green, red, and black! These hues are so incredibly rare that Steiffgal has only seen photos of them. Given this Peter's ID configuration, it is Steiffgal's best thinking that he was "born" in the very beginning of his manufacturing time frame.

Now let's take a step back and look at one of the features that makes this Record Peter so unusual - in addition to his white mohair. If you study his rear end (and its ok to stare in this case) you will notice he has a tail. Unlike many other standard line tail-less primates produced by Steiff, this model indeed has a long, thin mohair tail. This appendage probably was challenging to manufacture, given its size and shape.

Here on the left, you can see the 1929 catalog page advertising some of the company's primate line for the year.
 You can click on the image to make it bigger. This page has a subtle bit of information that adds some insight to the tail issue. Here, items noted as product category "9" are chimpanzees, while items noted as product category "10" are monkeys or Record Peter items. From the scientific perspective, chimps, gorillas, and orangutans do not have tails – classifying them as "apes." Those primates with a tail are classified as "monkeys." That is why the tail-less brown mohair "Jocko" pattern we know and love is considered a "9". However, it is curious that a white, freestanding mohair primate with a tail on this page is classified as a "9," suggesting it should NOT have a tail. Perhaps something here got lost in translation?

On the way bottom on the right of the catalog page, you can spot the white primate on wheels under discussion today.
 A close-up of him is here on the left. 
You can click on the image to make it bigger. The copy reads, "Record-Peter, Speedaway movement of amusing effect. No clockwork or mechanism to get out of order, simply pull cord. Strong colored wire frame, varnished wood wheels, voice, each in a box." He is also noted as product number 10/318 (10 = a Record Peter, 3 = sitting, and 18 = size in cm); that he weighs .31 kilograms (which was important for shipping and logistics) and that he was packed one to a box.

Steiffgal hopes you've enjoyed this tale of a tail detective story!

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

Saturday, July 30, 2022

The More The Merrier With Steiff's Charming Fox Terriers

Fox Terriers are - and for the most part have always been - one of the most sought after, and prolific breeds in Steiff's kennel club. These energetic and fearless pups have appeared in Steiff's product line since the late 1800s. Here's an overview of their history to explain why they are considered top dogs by so many button-in-ear collectors. (A "real life" one is pictured here on the left for reference; the photo is from Purina.)

Steiff has traditionally taken inspiration for new product introductions from popular cultural trends. Fox Terriers started to gain prominence in the last quarter of the 19th century. In 1876, the Fox Terrier Club of England was established, and in 1885 the American Fox Terrier Club followed suit. Fox Terriers took top honors at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1907, 1908, and 1909. It was clear that this breed captured the hearts and minds of dog fans.

As such, Steiff wasted no time in providing enthusiasts with their versions of these popular pups. Fox Terriers made their first appearance in the Steiff line in 1899, just a handful of years after the company's commercial catalog launch in 1892. The earliest ones were made from felt or velvet. Typical to the period, Steiff's debut Fox Terrier came on metal wheels and was made from felt. Mohair became available on a commercial scale in 1903 and shortly after, mohair Fox Terriers graced the pages of the Steiff catalog. Through the mid-1940s, close to 40 different models were produced in practically all forms, including sitting, standing, and lying toys; woolen miniatures; hand puppets; pincushions; pull toys on wheels; ride-on toys; and waterproof bath toys, among others. The Fox Terrier pictured here on the left is fully jointed and dates from around 1909.

Naming products took on new meaning and importance in the mid-1920s at Steiff. Around 1924, the company started to adapt their product development and marketing strategies to match the carefree, upbeat culture of the "roaring 20s." They updated or launched many new dogs and cats that featured distinctly youthful, playful, and innocent personalities. And they began giving them gentle, childlike names. Prior to that, most dogs and cats were noted generically or as their biological breed. Given their popularity, Fox Terriers were a big part of this strategy. As such, new Fox Terriers introduced in the 1920s and 1930s were named "Ajax," "Spotty," "Foxy, and "Strupp" (pictured here on the left), among others.

Midcentury, Fox Terriers continued to be a blue ribbon breed for Steiff.
They were among the first items produced once the factory was up and running for toy making business in the late 1940s. A Fox Terrier made from artificial silk plush in four sizes ranging from 10 to 29 cm in 1949 lead the pack. The little mohair Fox pictured here on the left measures only 7 cm and was produced around 1949. Starting in the early 1950s, when mohair became available again on a commercial scale, playful Steiff Fox Terriers in a full range of sizes would be produced as stand-alone toys, puppets, and on wheels. Steiff would go on to design and produce over 20 Fox Terrier designs from the late 1940’s onward, and a Fox Terrier of one sort or another has appeared in the line almost continuously to this day.

Perhaps the most popular vintage Steiff Fox Terrier among collectors today is the company's version produced from 1949 - 1975.
He is beloved for his gentle yet authentic appearance as well as his natural charm posing with dolls. This design was called Fox up to 1953 and Foxy from 1954 onwards. He was made in 11 sizes ranging from 7 to 36 cm over time. F
ox/Foxy dogs were standing on all fours and made from white mohair detailed with black and tan airbrushed spots. The smallest versions had felt ears while the larger ones had mohair ears. All had brown and black pupil eyes and a simple hand embroidered nose and mouth. This model was also produced as a pull toy on wooden wheels in 17 and 22 cm from 1949 - 1961, as a ride-on model from 1949 - 1966, and sitting in three sizes ranging from 10 to 17 cm in 1953 - 1955. Collectors may recognize the 8 cm version as the one sold with the Vogue Doll Company's "Ginny" doll as Ginny's pup "Sparky" in 1956. You can see Sparky here on the left; he is wearing his all original plaid jacket and wearing his black leash.  

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the history of Steiff's popular Fox Terrier breed has been a real crowd pleaser for you.

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

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Ralph, Unboxed

Well, hello handsome! It's been a long time in the making... but a studio sized Steiff Teddy Baby bear named Ralph has finally made it into Steiffgal's hug! Check out this huge and heavy heartthrob and see what makes him fabulous in so many ways.

Remarkable Ralph truly is in a class by himself. He is standing, made from lovely long chocolate brown mohair, 160 cm tall, and arm and head jointed. He is SOLIDLY stuffed with excelsior from head to toe. His hand paw pads are made from a suede-like material. His larger than life face comes to life with brown and black glass pupil eyes; a black hand embroidered nose and mouth; an open, smiling, felt lined mouth; and a light tan mohair inset muzzle. His feet are covered in black felt and Steiffgal suspects that these mommy-made "slippers" cover up some damage on his mohair feet.

Like his namesake, Ralph has all the typical Steiff Teddy Baby design features - on steroids! These include flat feet made for standing, downturned wrists, a chubby belly, and a distinctly toddler-esque personality and presentation. This prehistorically proportioned cub left the factory in Giengen, Germany more than a half century ago wearing a red leather collar with an oversized bell, but those accessories have been lost to time. His silver raised script button is about the size of a US dime and remains in his left ear. It is Steiffgal's best guess that Ralph was probably born in the c. 1960-1967 time frame.

The heyday for Steiff's studio animal production was in the 1960s. In the company's "Display Animals" catalog from the late 1960s, over 70 different models are represented - including this Teddy baby. On his page, which is pictured here on the left, his article number is 0339/15 and he is noted at standing 160 cm or 60 inches tall. It is interesting to note, that although the Teddy baby design has been produced in brown, blonde, and a number of rare mohair color variations since his introduction in the late 1920s, Steiff only rendered their largest display size in brown mohair. 

Now, what's the deal with the name Ralph? And why was Ralph's arrival so anticipated? For over 50 years, Ralph lived with a family on the west coast of the USA. Ralph's original owner won him in a contest as a young girl and immediately adopted him as one of the family! She named him Ralph. When asked why, the family said... just because! Perhaps Ralph was the name of a friend, family member, or even childhood crush at the time. Only Ralph knows for sure. And Steiffgal is keeping his name as Ralph to honor his legacy. 

Time marched on, and it was time for Ralph to find his next forever home. The family contacted Steiffgal to learn more about their family treasure, and to see if she had a place in her hug for him! Of course she did! But the challenge was moving him from the west to the east coast in a safe and cost effective manner. After almost a year of research and planning, Ralph was packed for a trip to Mars in multiple layers of boxes and made his cross country journey on a large moving van. When he arrived at Steiffgal's doorstep, she could hardly believe her eyes concerning the size and weight of his packaging!

After a long afternoon of careful unpacking, Ralph finally made his proper introduction. You can watch this unboxing on the YouTube video included just above this paragraph. Although loved and cherished as a friend, toy, and confidante, he clearly has many more years of love and joy to give! Steiffgal will give him a good cleaning, fix up a few bumps and bruises on him, and then display him as a crown jewel in her collection.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's studio sized Teddy Baby bear has you living large today. 

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

Sunday, July 3, 2022

This 1970s-era Steiff Novelty Is One Merry Mashup!

Steiffgal is certain you'll have no trouble warming up to this week's blog special guest. Here we have a Steiff postwar egg cozy that could only be described as a merry mashup. Check out this happy hopper and her unusual design elements to see what makes her such a rare hare in so many ways.

It's easy to understand why this quirky novelty holds so much appeal. This rabbit egg cozy is 10 cm tall and head jointed. Bunny's head is a large pom-mom that has been airbrushed with tan and pink highlights. She comes to life with brown and black pupil eyes, clear monofilament whiskers, and a tiny pink painted mouth. Her ears are made from a piece of single thick white felt and a piece of single thick tan felt that have been sandwiched together. Her tail is a small white pom-pom, and her body/dress is made from a textured, linen-like material. This pattern was produced in blue, orange, red, or yellow in this size only from 1973-1974. According to Pfeiffer's Sortiment, these warmers were sold in pairs and packaged with a matching placemat.

This egg cozy novelty is interesting from three distinct collecting angles.

1.  Functionally, it is the first egg warmer to appear in the line post-war. Steiff's early egg warmers were primarily made from felt or velvet, with their heyday in the c. 1900-1925 timeframe. Many of the early 20th century egg warmers were also made as rabbits, so her form is entirely consistent with past production. 

2.  Her materials and construction are also unusual. Although pom-pom or woolen miniature animals have been used for pincushions, pen wipes, and displays over time, this is the only egg warmer Steiffgal knows of that incorporates woolen miniature elements. Her ear construction - that of two layers of felt glued together - is also noteworthy. Steiffgal also does not recall ever seeing another button-in-ear item featuring her body/dress fabric. 

3.  And her packaging is also curious. She appeared in pairs, and packaged with a placemat. Although Steiffgal does not have the original packaging, she found an image of it on eBay, and it appears here on the left for your study. The copy on the back reads, "Egg warmer with place mat. Place mat of laminated foam and synthetic material, therefore it doesn't slip and can be washed in lukewarm water." 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this 1970s-era egg cozy has added a little novelty to your day.

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

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of - Four Top Steiff Teds Sold At Auction This Week!

It was a very good week to be a vintage Steiff Teddy bear enthusiast! Two fine European auction houses known for presenting amazing button-in-ear temptations of all sorts held their signature early summer sales. And did they deliver! Let's take a look at four top lot results from these events and see what made these picks the stuff that dreams are made of.

On June 21st, 2022 Special Auction Services from the UK offered lot #40, "a very rare Steiff black mohair teddy bear circa 1912" as part of their Dolls & Teddy Bears early summer sale.
It was cataloged in part as:

"A very rare Steiff black mohair teddy bear circa 1912, with black boot button eyes, red felt discs behind, pronounced clipped muzzle, black stitched nose, mouth and claws, swivel head, jointed elongated limbs, originally with cream felt pads, hump and inoperative growler -16½in. (42cm.) high (balding and thinning to top of head, bald spot at each ankle, piece missing from right heel, bald spot on side of left arm with a slight hole, small hole to top of muzzle, pads recovered, general wear and thinning, fading to front and a some strands missing from nose stitching) - this actual bear was sold at Christie's first Teddy Bear auction in December 1993 as lot 205 and comes with a copy of the catalogue."

The bear was estimated £5,000 - £8,000, generated 22 bids, and hammered at £18,000. Complete with provenance, personality, and presentation, this sweet old man was truly the whole package. Despite his condition issues, his absolute rarity and ties to one of the 20th century's most famous/infamous tragedies still clearly resonated with collectors worldwide. 

Later the same week, Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH from Germany presented their Special Steiff Auction as part of the annual Steiff Sommer Festival in Giengen on June 25th, 2022. The event generated a number of noteworthy Teddy bear sales - with three head spinning lots taking the gold, silver, and bronze medals here. 

1.  Of great interest - at least to two passionate bidders - was lot #6118, a handsome 1920s-era Steiff cub.
It was cataloged in part as:

"Very nice, dark brown bear, around 1926, with button, long trailing F, with very beautiful preserved red flag, No. 5328,6, glass eyes, very beautiful preserved, dark-brown mohair, long snaped off arms, clearly hump, felt paws in very good condition, 42 cm, very nice, exceptional original condition."

The bear had an estimate of €850-€1,700, generated 83 bids, and hammered at €22,000. Every auction has its up and down surprises, and this sleeper lot caught everyone off guard in the best possible way. Yes, he was beautiful, a great color and size, and had fine IDs. A wonderful example all around. Perhaps he reminded the winning bidder of a long lost childhood friend, or maybe was the last bear needed to complete a series of cubs in a personal collection? Or perhaps he simply called to them in a heart to heart sort of way? Whatever the reason, it is certain that his new owner really, really wanted him! 

2.  Also catching the world's attention was lot #6107, a super-sized Petsy bear with an irresistible and classic presentation. 
It was cataloged in part as:

"One of the highlights of the auction, Petsy-bear, produced 1928-1930, 74 cm, long-haired mohair plush, brown tipped, jointed, big flexible ears, with button, long stretched F, big blue glass eyes, salmon-pink embroidering at snout, seam at the middle of head, nice, full mohair, single places of the mohair are caused by the sitting position flatted, felt paws were partially professional refurbished, 74 cm, with this size is only this bear known to us, extremely rare, very nice."

The bear had an estimate of €6,500-€13,000, generated 78 bids, and hammered at €42,000. Petsy bears continue to capture the imagination and pocketbooks of enthusiasts universally. Their rarity and distinctive childlike looks qualify them as crown jewels in practically every Steiff collection. This beautiful boy - in a remarkable size, lovely condition, and with ID - was outstanding in so many ways. As far as Steiffgal can tell, it is very likely that this exact bear now holds the world's record for the highest price paid for a Steiff Petsy bear sold at public auction!

3. And finally, it's hard to believe that any button-in-ear beauty could top the number two bear at this sale, but the stars really aligned here.
The star of this auction was lot #6104, a remarkable and all but perfect white mohair rod bear with ID. 
It was cataloged in part as:

"Baer(le) PB, produced 1904-1905, an absolute highlight of the auction, a rarity, white mohair, sealing wax nose, below it you can recognize a bright embroidering at snout , shoe button eyes, with elephant button, 5 claws at paws and feet, head, arms and legs with rod jointed, movable connected, except of small places nice full white mohair, standing height: 40 cm, seat height: 29 cm, long snaped off arms, hump, pointed nose, mohair at the snout was shaved, exceptional."

The bear had an estimate of €2,500-€5,000, generated 63 bids, and hammered at €43,000! It was clear that this remarkable example would be a superstar in this sale - but these results are clearly off the charts! Before the sale, Steiffgal personally thought that he may trade hands as high as €25,000... but sometimes its ok to be wrong! And, like his cousin Petsy mentioned above, it is possible that this exact bear now holds the world's record for the highest price paid for a Steiff rod jointed bear sold at public auction! This example really was museum quality in condition, color, presentation, and originality. It was like he was made yesterday - but he was nearly 120 years old. How can that be? And can we all share his secret to the fountain of youth? Congrats to the buyer - this guy's a keeper for sure. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion of these auction superstars has hammered your interest in these once in a lifetime cubs. 

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