Monday, May 29, 2023

Simply The Best: Highlights From Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's July 1, 2023 Steiff Auction Event

Last January, Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH presented the first installment of the Susan Kilgore Wiley collection of breathtaking, antique Steiff bears, animals, and novelties. This awesome event realized over $475,000 and was the talk of the international vintage Steiff collecting community. Now it's time for the second part of the sale, which is most fittingly being held on July 1st, 2023 in Giengen, Germany in association with Steiff's annual Steiff Sommer celebration. Here are three over the top items on offer as part of that auction. Steiffgal did not even know these items existed until now, they are that rare and that AMAZING. Please sit down, fasten your seatbelt, and read on!

It's the best of all worlds with this first Wiley auction highlight.
Here we have lot #45, an early 20th century Steiff Teddy bear girl doll. It is cataloged by the auction house in part as:

"One of the of the highlights of the auction, probably a prototype by the Fa. STEIFF, unusual doll, felt head, blue glass eyes, bright mohair hair, with button, block letters, long trailing f, bear body, with white mohair, probably original silk ribbon and silk collar, height: 35 cm, small felt faults at the right cheek, exceptional, stronger mohair loss on the reverse of the legs and at the back, otherwise single places with slightly thin mohair, exceptional, probably an unique specimen." It has an opening bid of 1500 €.

This beautiful treasure probably dates around 1912, given her presentation, glass pupil eyes, and facial seaming. It was around that time that Steiff's proportional dolls were becoming very popular. The company was producing a number of adorable student and childlike dolls that were dressed in everyday clothes, Sunday best, and regional attire. These charming examples were even sold through FAO Schwarz in the United States! Steiffgal suspects that Steiff was looking at ways to expand their doll offering through different novelty options, and knows of a Steiff topsy-turvy style doll prototype from c. 1912. It makes perfect sense that Steiff would experiment with a doll head and a Teddy bear body, as the company specialized in both deigns and other manufacturers had these "hybrid" items in their lines. This doll bear probably did not go into production because it was very expensive and labor intensive to manufacture on a commercial scale.

This next highlight is truly on fire.
Here we have lot #49, a most colorful Steiff Teddy on the go. The auction house catalogs it in part as:

"STEIFF Record-teddy, produced 1927-1930, with button, block letters, long trailing f, red fiery mohair, glass eyes, felt paws, except of minimally places in good condition, scattered thin mohair, and mohair loss, swivel head, color is wear down at the wooden wheels, height: 24 cm, length: 24 cm, extremely exceptional, very strong colors, rare." It has an opening bid of 1200 €.

Collectors will recognize this delightful pull toy as an example of the company's legacy Record pattern. This pull toy design debuted around 1912 in the form of Record Jocko, a chimp on wheels. Bears and dolls on wheels quickly followed this introduction as they made for perfect passengers on Steiff's simple but charming four wheeled cart design. According to Pfeiffer's Sortiment, this particular Record Teddy was produced in 20 and 25 cm from 1927-1930. What's so interesting about this time frame is that it exactly corresponds with the "heyday" of the appearance of brilliantly colored, tipped mohair items in the Steiff line. Steiffgal has never seen an orange tipped Steiff bear in this size, and it is possible that they were only created for this novelty, and not as a freestanding item. Other tipped mohair highlights from the "roaring 20s" include rabbits, cats, dogs, and other eye-catching pets. 

And last but not least, please check out lot #54, a musical Teddy clown bear.
The auction house catalogs it in part as:

"Teddy clown, rare, with music mechanism, probably a single-item production, yellow gold mohair plush, glass eyes, bright embroidering at snout, softly stuffed, kapok filling, a rarity, with hat, standing height 39 cm, with button, block letters, long trailing f, scattered small faults at the felt paws, nice, full mohair, with music mechanism, long snaped off arms, on the reverse here and there with places with minimally mohair loss, original ruff and hat, produced c. around 1927." It has an opening bid of 1900 €.

These sorts of rarities make collectors want to break out in song! Teddy Clown bears themselves are quite rare on the market, given they were only made from 1926-1930 overall. In 1928, Steiff debuted a series of "Music-Animals" based on their most popular designs and patterns of the time. These items were standard line animals with a music box imbedded in their torsos. According to company documents, they included a Teddy bear, Petsy, Bully dogs, Molly, Cheerio, Fellow, Charly, Treff, Fluffy, a lamb, and a clown. There is no mention of a musical Teddy Clown in any materials Steiffgal can find. However, given the range of characters and novelties produced as music box toys, it is not out of the question that Steiff would have considered producing Teddy Clown as a musical edition. Perhaps this example was created as a prototype for this product development experiment.

For more information on this amazing sale to be held on July 1, 2023 and to see all of the great lots on offer, please see the auction house's website at

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on these absolute auction rarities has further cataloged your interest in vintage Steiff!

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

Monday, May 22, 2023

Getting All Fussy Over This Lovely Steiff Gussy

This pretty kitty can only be described as the cat's meow! Steiff's early postwar production is beloved for its innovation, attention to detail, smaller scale, and the fact that items from this time frame are just so darn cute. Cats and dogs ruled the roost during this period, with this black and white beauty being a true stand out in the feline category. Come see what makes her so special from the design and product development perspectives.

Here we have Steiff's "Young Kitty Gussy." She is pictured here on the left and is 12 cm, standing, and head jointed. Her body and head are made from white mohair, while her tail is made from black mohair. She has black airbrushed highlights on her feet, rear end, sides, and around her black felt ears. Her face comes to life with a white velvet muzzle, piercing green glass slit pupil eyes, a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth, a spot of pink airbrushing on her lips, and clear monofilament whiskers. She left the factory wearing a pink ribbon. This Gussy's IDs include a raised script button, yellow ear tag, and a named, blue imprinted, bear faced chest tag.

Gussy was also produced in 17 cm. She is pictured here on the left. The larger version had two main design differences from the smaller version. Bigger Gussy featured velvet ears instead of felt ears, and had a pink velvet lined mouth instead of a closed mouth. Gussy was produced from 1952-1969 overall. In 1999-2000, Steiff produced a really sweet 17 cm Gussy replica, but did not call her Gussy. She was named 'Classic 1952 Cat', most likely a reference to her year of introduction. This special edition is pictured below and is wearing a blue ribbon.

Open mouth cats are pretty rare for Steiff. The only other mid-century examples that Steiffgal can think of here are the company's Siamy Siamese cats, which were made in 11, 15, and 23 cm from 1953-1954.

Gussy debuted in the line at a really critical time in the company's history. Gussy was introduced in the very early 1950s, so it is possible to find examples with US Zone tags and red imprinted chest tags. A few years after the conclusion of WWII, when the factory was up and running for toy making, Steiff started to produce a large number of smaller, beautifully detailed animals for export. These were brand new patterns, not carry-overs or "updated" prewar designs. Many of these were dogs and cats, as these have always been "best sellers" for the company. These new patterns helped build (and rebuild) Steiff’s business worldwide as soldiers returning home from the war in Europe often brought these “toys” back home as gifts and souvenirs of their time abroad. After all, they didn’t take up too much room in standard issue G.I. duffle bag—most even could fit in a coat pocket. These beloved and newly launched “pocket pets” included Dally the Dalmatian, Tessie the Schnauzer, Snobby the Poodle, and Gussy the Young Kitty, among others.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Young Kitty Gussy has tickled your whiskers!

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

Monday, May 15, 2023

The Devil Is In The Details When It Comes To Steiff's Rare Postwar Exclusives!

Little differences can mean alot when it comes to the vintage Steiff collecting world. Check out this darling black and white Cocker Spaniel puppy. She has a familiar ring to her, right? But one detail elevates her from beloved everyday companion to best of show at Westminster! Read on to learn more.

Here we have a darling black and white mohair Cockie Cocker Spaniel. She is 12 cm tall, sitting and head jointed. Her body is made from white colored mohair which has lovely hand airbrushed black spots on her legs and body. Her long, floppy ears are made solid black mohair. Her face and muzzle are darling, with a distinctly childlike appearance. She comes to life with pert black and white plastic google eyes, a hand embroidered black nose, and a painted mouth. She appears to be pouting - or begging for a bite of whatever you are snacking on at the moment! She retains her original red collar, which closes with one very small, plain silver snap.

Now for the grand reveal. This happy handful was made in this size only as an exclusive for the upscale toy retailer FAO Schwarz in 1962-1966. Schwarz sold her along with a simple wooden dog house, a red water bowl, bone, and mat as a set. She was attached to the house via a metal chain. The red wooden FAO Schwarz wooden tag was attached to the roof of the house. She is incredibly rare and only the second one Steiffgal has seen or handled in decades of collecting! Through the late 1970s, Steiff often partnered with FAO Schwarz to create store-exclusive products based on the company's most popular standard line items at the time. Other examples of these now-coveted rarities include a series of standing Dalmatians; a walrus puppet and pajama bag; an open mouthed, standing beagle; and a life-sized beagle, among several others.

In this particular case, this FAO Schwarz black and white Cockie Cocker Spaniel is based on Steiff's legacy black and white mohair STANDING Cockie Cocker Spaniel.
This adorable model was produced in 12, 19, and 29 cm from 1960-1976. This Cocker Spaniel exclusive also has the same face and general appearance as the company's charming felt bodied Cockie Nightcap animal. Steiff produced these fun novelties as cats, dogs, bears, foxes, and rabbits in 15 cm from 1969-1974. They were designed to hide a sweet, prize, or coin on the pillow of a child. You can see Nightcap Cockie and a few of her cousins in the image above; this page is from one of Steiff's c. 1969 product catalogs. 

To wrap up this discussion, let's take a look at sitting Cockie's ear tag. Her article number is 3312,96. This translates to 3=sitting, 3=mohair, 12=12 cm tall, 9=display animal or special edition, and 6=black. That pretty much perfectly describes her!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this super rare and lovely Cocker Spaniel has added a beautiful highlight to your day.

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

Sunday, May 7, 2023

All Ears Over This Well Dressed Prewar Steiff Rabbit Doll

It's the best of all worlds when it comes to Steiff's dressed animal dolls. What could be finer than a darling Steiff dog, cat, rabbit, or other fine beast donned in Steiff couture from head to toe? Steiff's rabbits are very well represented in the company's history of dressed animals. The company's debut dressed rabbit was none other than Beatrix Potter's own beloved Peter Rabbit in 1904! Check out this prewar-era happy hopper - perhaps a distant cousin of Peter? - who sets Steiffgal's heart aflutter every time she looks at him.

Overall, this smallest version of Steiff's begging rabbit boy is simply adorable. He is 17 cm tall (sans ears) and head jointed. He originally was covered in white and tan mohair, but now he's simply a bare hare. He has mile long, narrow feet with red embroidered claws, downturned arms, a tiny upcurved tail, and oversized, floppy ears not lined in wires. He comes to life with oversized brown and black glass pupil eyes placed low on his face and Steiff's signature 1920s-era rabbit facial embroidery. This includes a "v" shaped nose and an upside down "v" shaped mouth in one color, and horizontal stitches filling in the "v" shaped nose in another color. You can see a close up of this stitching in the photo at the bottom of this post. Dressed rabbit retains his long trailing "f" button and traces of his red ear tag as his Steiff IDs.

You can't help but notice this bun's all original and darling playsuit. His well-constructed pants have tiny faux front pockets, contrasting tan colored stitching, back black snaps, and a perfectly placed opening for his tail.  This model in this outfit appeared in the catalog from 1929-1932 in 17, 22, 28, and 35 cm. 

Given their short time in the line, and probably low production numbers, these dressed, prewar, begging Steiff rabbit dolls are amazingly rare.
 This is only one of a handful in blue overalls Steiffgal has ever seen or handled. Steiffgal purchased this guy at a UFDC national event salesroom a few years ago. More recently, in January, 2023, a medium sized one hammered at auction for 750 euro/841 USD. This model was also produced in five other outfits; these included a red skirt and white apron, a purple jacket, a red skirt and purple jacket, a red and white dress, or a pink dress. In 2010, Christie's sold one of these rarities dressed in the red skirt and white apron for 1,625 GBP.

Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed this clothes encounter with this well dressed prewar rabbit!

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

This Early Steiff Giraffe On The Go Is The Wheel-Deal!

It's no stretch to say that Steiff's giraffes are quite the jungle gems. Prewar ones are few and far between on the secondary market, and always catch the eye of collectors. Check out this note from Lynda who would like to know more about a fine and early example from her collection. She writes:

"Hello, I would appreciate any information on age, rarity and value of this old Steiff giraffe on wheels. He measures just under 21” on wheels; the height of giraffe sans wheels 20 1/2” as he sits on a crossbar; actual wheels measure 1 3/4” in height. Thanks!"

This handsome and dramatic giraffe on the go is a legacy pre-war item. The pattern appeared overall in 9 sizes overall, ranging from 28 to 260 cm, from 1909 through 1942. Given his dimensions, Lynda's pal is the 50 cm size, as wheels are not included in his official measurements. He is made from hand stenciled felt, has mohair ears, is standing, and unjointed. His face comes to life with pert black button eyes, prominent ossicones, airbrushed features, and dramatic seams. He retains his long trailing "f" button as his Steiff ID. Giraffe debuted on metal wheels; in 1923 he started to be produced on wooden wheels. Given these details, it is safe to say that this guy was "born" in the 1909-1923 time frame.

Given his appeal and longevity in the line, it is not surprising that this giraffe on wheels pattern was produced in a few forms and variations over the years.
For example, the 110 cm size was also made in mohair in the early 1930s. Some larger models were made as riding toys with steering features, while the largest ones came with a saddle and footrests - much like the company's riding horses or donkeys. According to Pfeiffer's Sortiment, the saddle and foot rests were intended "for shoe stores, for fitting children's shoes."

It is interesting to note that despite his age, this model is not Steiff's debut or earliest giraffe model. The company produced felt giraffes with or without metal wheels in 17, 28, 35, and 65 cm from 1892-1909 overall. These first generation, earliest models had simpler lines and more dramatic coloring than the model under discussion here. 

Now for the tricky question - his value.
 As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiffgal does not have a crystal ball or insights into what any given bidder or buyer would offer for it. A solid way to think about value is to see what other similar items have sold for at public auction. In 2018, a 50 cm felt giraffe in excellent to unused condition with IDs from the late 1920s-early 1930s realized about $3,751. He is pictured here on the left, and may be the same one shown in Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment book, page 310. Given Lynda's example has significant losses and playwear, but retains its ID, has metal wheels, and probably could be restored a bit, it is Steiffgal's best GUESS that he may change hands in the c. $1,500-2,500 range. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Lynda's giraffe keeps your interest in Steiff on a roll. 

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

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