Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Breathtaking Bear Beauties on Offer at Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's 2023 Special Steiff Auction in Giengen

Can you bear it? Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion's July 1st, 2023 Special Steiff Auction in Giengen is presenting one of the finest lineups of vintage to antique button-in-ear collectibles in memory. Many of those wah-hoo good treasures are from the collection of Susan Kilgore Wiley. Ladenburger sold the first half of her over-the-moon great hug in January, 2023. This second sale presents even more Wiley temptations, including some of the world's most fantastic and aspirational Steiff bears Steiffgal has ever seen! Here are three extraordinary ones that really caught her eye, and why. 

The first can-you-bear it bear is lot #64, a most unusual Teddy Clown bear.
It has a starting bid of 1,300 euro and is cataloged by the auction house as:

"Clown-bear, exceptional, with button, block letters, long trailing f, minimally rests of the red cloth tag label, big blue glass eyes, bright embroidering at snout, and claw embroidering, strong fiery mohair, long snaped off arms, hump, 33 cm, except of small faults felt paws in very nice condition, with ruff, without hat, very expressive."

It's really the best of two legacy Steiff worlds with this terrific temptation. At first glance, he sort of looks like a Petsy the Baby Bear with his tipped mohair, pink hand embroidered nose and mouth, and blue eyes. But, he does not have the signature center facial seam construction or wire lined ears as seen on Steiff's Petsy cubs. But, he has his factory original neck ruff, and these were not put on any models other than Steiff's Teddy Clown bears - at least as far as Steiffgal knows! It is also important to note that this bear's detailing and configuration is not noted in Pfeiffer's Sortiment books. This suggests that very few were produced. Steiffgal suspects that his "birthday" was probably in the mid to late 1920s time frame, when both Petsy and Teddy Clown made their appearances in the catalog. This is only the second of his type Steiffgal knows of.

And speaking of Petsy - this second can-you-bear it bear is lot #15, an insanely rare and equally adorable Petsy bear.
It has a starting bid of 1,600 euro and is cataloged by the auction house as:

"One of the of the highlights of the this year's STEIFF-GIENGEN-auction, Petsy, produced around 1930, with seam at the middle of head, nice, full, pointed mohair, rare cross-eyed, with button, block letters, long trailing f, bright embroidering at snout, long snaped off arms, hump, big ears, original felt paws with flaws here and there, and scattered spotty mohair loss at neck, hump, ears, and shoulder, otherwise very nice condition, nice strong color of the mohair, standing height 50 cm, extremely rare, extremely expressive, an unusual rarity."

Steiffgal is pretty certain that this eye-catching (pun intended) rarity is on every single Steiff collector's dream wish list! It goes without saying that Petsy bears do incredibly well at auction, with one selling for a mind boggling 66,000 euro at a Ladenburger sale in January, 2023. However, this particular one, with black and blue cartoon eyes, is simply off the charts when it comes to his rarity, expression, and presentation. Steiffgal would not be surprised if this example trades hands near or even above this previous record! And what makes this bear so extraordinary?  His "half and half" glass eyes are sewn in his head in such a way that they can be tilted and rotated, giving him countless silly to serious facial expressions. Petsy bears usually have stationary, glass pupil eyes. This is one of the few Petsy bears of this size with cartoon style eye extant. 

And now for the wow OMG wow third can-you-bear it bear of this sale, let's take look at lot #82.
This is a Steiff black Titanic bear. It has a starting bid of 4,500 euro and is cataloged by the auction house as:

"Titanic bear, one of the highlights of the this year's STEIFF GIENGEN auction 2023. A rare item from 1912, was produced in remembrance of the victims of the sinking of the Titanic on April 14th 1912. It were 82 pieces of this grief bear/ black bear produced. This Titanic bear has a seam at the middle of head, red shoe button eyes that are underlaid with felt, black embroidered nose and claws, small STEIFF button, block letters, long trailing f, long snaped off arms, hump, voice, intact, small faults at the feet, produced between 1912 and 1917, 50 cm, nice full black mohair, with provenience, enclosed invoice by the original purchase at Sotheby's 1990, and newspaper article by an American antique magazine, "Antique Review" from February 1991, one of the rarest bears that were ever auctioneered by the Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion."

This bear is so amazing that he leaves Steiffgal pretty much speechless in terms of analysis. So she will share a little story about him instead. When she first heard about this bear, she was certain it was a replica, based on how he was described to her. But his owners insisted he was the real deal from 1912. Fast forward, Steiffgal met this bear in person. His owners handed him to her, and he really was as close to tissue new as possible. So new that Steiffgal again thought he was a replica at first. But after a few moments, it became clear that he was well over 100 years and just in clean, breathtaking condition. His owners did not mention his center seam - which just puts this bear over the top in terms of appeal, desirability, and rarity. It's anyone's guess how the bidding will roll out with this bear... but watching it unfold should be more thrilling than any major Hollywood production!

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 auction bear highlights has left you star-struck!

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