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. 

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