Thursday, October 26, 2023

Barking Up The Right Tree With This Petite And Princely Steiff Pinscher

And they call it puppy love! And for good reason. This sweet sitting pup recently joined Steiffgal's hug. He came in a giant box lot. But as all collectors know... sometimes these types of purchases contain unexpected treasures like this.

Sit and stay and check out this sweet pup.
He is a sweet example of Steiff's Pinscher dog. He is 17 cm tall, sitting, and unjointed. He is made from long tan mohair that was tipped in brown when he was new. You can see this tipping in his armpits, folds, and other places where the sun does not shine! Pinscher
 has black hand embroidered claws on his front and back paws. His face is detailed with charming proportional brown and black glass pupil eyes, a black hand stitched nose and mouth, a spot of red on his lips, and a center-seamed muzzle. His pert triangular mohair ears are lined in tan felt, and as is customary to the breed, he has a proportionally very small tail. He has a nonworking squeaker in his belly. 

Like most of Steiff's creations, this Pinscher is lovingly and authentically rendered.
He in a very appealing and authentic sitting position; his back legs are angled and bent in the way a real puppy sits - especially when they are trying coax you into giving them a snack! This guy retains his long trailing "f" Steiff button and bits of his red tag as his Steiff IDs. This tipped mohair Steiff Pinscher pattern was produced in 17, 22, 28, 35, 43, and 50 cm from 1914 though 1931 overall.

Pinschers are few and far between in the Steiff line. Over time, three versions were produced prewar. As far as Steiffgal can tell, there has not been one in the line after the early 1940s. It is interesting to note that Steiff's debut Pinscher was produced at the same time as the company's rod jointed bears. Like the rod jointed bears, this guy was also fully rod jointed, had black wooden shoebutton eyes, and a handmade black gutta percha nose. He appeared in 35 cm from 1903 through 1906. He had a distinctly Teddy bear look to him but his limbs were more slender and he did not have felt paw pads. You can see a picture of him here on the left; the image is from Pfeiffer's 1892-1943 Sortiment.

After an eight year hiatus, Pinschers again graced the Steiff catalog. The Pinscher under discussion here today followed the rod jointed version. Steiff's final Pinscher was similar to the tipped version, but made in long grey brown mohair in 17, 22, and 28 cm from 1935-1942. 

Pinschers are a distinctly German breed, so it should be no surprise that Steiff chose to produce a few for their line.
These dogs originated in southern Germany (also where the Steiff company is located.) They were first officially recognized in 1885 and accepted into the American Kennel Club in 2003. German Pinschers were one of the foundation breeds in the origins of the Doberman Pinscher and the Miniature Pinscher as we know them today. German Pinschers were almost lost to time both post WWI and WWII. According to the AKC, there were no litters registered in West Germany from 1949 to 1958. Due to the heroic efforts of one man, the breed was rescued via intensive breeding and conservation efforts.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this petite Pinscher has brought a little more happiness to your day.

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

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Thinking Outside The Box With This Delightful Steiff Moving Display

Would you climb every mountain for a wonderful Steiff rarity? How about an actual Steiff hillside scene with moving parts? Check out this note from a new friend in Europe who has inherited such a crated treasure in working order. Just what do we have here? Jeanette shares:

Hello! I have inherited this Steiff display, but do not know anything about it, except for what Google tells me, and that is how I found your website. The display has been standing in a shop window for many years and works fine mechanically. All the figures have a Steiff mark on the chest. The hedgehogs all stand up and are about 27cm tall, have mohair, velvet, soft arms that can move and a plastic face. Dark blue eyes. There are hedgehogs, dogs, cows, monkeys, mice, mountain goats and a mountain ram. It is a mechanical setup and everything mechanical moves fine. Without music. A serial number is noted on a hedgehog: 7627/28. 
Do you know if it could be worth anything?

Kind regards, 
Jeanette from Denmark

There's so much to unpack here, so let's get started.
Jeanette has an example of one of Steiff's legacy mechanized displays. It features a pastoral scene consisting of a simple wooden building with a mountain scape in the background. It is populated by a family of Micki and Mecki hedgehog dolls, as well as farm, forest, and mountain animals. The animals on display all appeared in the line from the late 1960s onward; the Mecki noted, with article number 7627/28 was produced from 1968-1990. Steiffgal suspects that this display was assembled in 1969 (give or take a year or two) given the "date" on the sign on the shelter. This sign also notes "Mecki Alm." The word "alm" is very interesting and does not really have an equivalent in English. It refers to a simple hut as well as the broad swath of meadows, forests, and hills surrounding it. That perfectly describes what's going on here. 

Steiff has a rich history of creating these can't-look-away moving displays. They debuted around 1910 as a natural extension of the company's advertising and promotional efforts. Over time, they have been produced in sizes ranging from less than a meter to almost the length of a city block. These vignettes were often reflective of life in a small town, farming, nature, a circus, or sports. Today, Steiff's moving displays are created, serviced, and maintained in what the company calls its Exhibition Department. Because they are made in Giengen and installed all over the world, how they are designed, assembled, and disassembled for transport are almost as critical as their presentations and themes.

Given some online research, it appears that Steiff produced a number of examples of Jeanette's alm display. These have appeared at public auction over the years. On December 11, 2016, Morphy Auctions of Denver, PA sold an almost identical version of this display. It was estimated at $500-1,000 and traded hands at $3,125, including the buyer's premium. It was cataloged as: 

"This automaton measures approximately 41” x 28” x 48” overall and features 15 Steiff animals at a mountainside farm. The automaton base is made from wood and includes faux cliffs, rocks, plants, and a farmhouse. The animals include monkeys, rams, marmots, goats, woolen miniature birds, cows, and a three member dressed hedgehog family. This display was purchased directly from Margarete Steiff GmbH at New York’s annual ToyFair trade show in the 1980’s. It was on display once or twice a year at Steiff collector events, usually for 3 days at a time, over a 25-year period. When not on display, it was stored in its individual wood shipping crate (included) in a controlled warehouse. This display is in working order with Steiff factory installed 110v US plugs. Condition: As noted. In clean, very good condition overall. Provenance: From a fine Ohio collection."

Now let's get to 
Jeanette's question about value.
As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiffgal has not seen this item firsthand to account for condition. Other more recent sales of this item include a similar version sold in December, 2022 by Hindman of Chicago. Estimated at $1,000-1,500, it realized $2,064, including the buyer's premium. So the selling price has gone down a little in the past few years, at least based on information available. Given these metrics, it is not out of the question that this item under review her might realize in the c. $2,000-2,500 at auction today. 

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Jeanette's alm display has been a breath of fresh air for you today.

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

Friday, October 6, 2023

This Rare Steiff Cartoon Doll Is No Laughing Matter!

Steiff certainly has international appeal - and so do many of the company's rarer prewar novelties! Check out this note from a lucky collector who hit it really big with a fantastic doll purchase. Stefan shares:

"I hope this email finds you well and you're doing well. Recently I purchased a figure, which I'm 99% sure it's Steiff. It's a comical character, known as Silent Sam in America, but in Europe known as Adamson. I was just wondering, do you know what year it was manufactured? Thank you so much.  
Kind regards, Stefan"

This delightful cartoon doll is no laughing matter! Here we have Steiff's Adamson doll. This fine fellow is 29 cm tall, fully jointed, and made from felt. His face comes to life with dramatic seaming, blue and black glass pupil eyes backed in large white felt circles, a dimensional nose, and a bald head highlighted with a few remaining black hairs. He smokes a brown and white cigar, which is integral to his mouth. He wears a red and white shirt with cuffs; a white vest detailed with buttons, a collar, and a blue tie; blue pants, and white shoes. These dolls were made from 1925-1929 in this size only. According to the Cieslik's Button in Ear The History of the Teddy Bear and His Friends reference book, 997 examples of this doll were sold. The Ciesliks also note, "In 1925 Steiff adopted Adamson into their program after several trial attempts. For Adamson was not easy to portray; he had a cigar in his mouth which he rarely removed." 

So just who is this cute character?
Adamson, also known as Silent Sam, was the star of a cartoon strip drawn by Oscar Jacobsson (Swedish, 1889–1945). It debuted on October 17, 1920 in the Swedish humor publication Söndags-Nisse. What was so interesting - and universal - about Adamson is that he almost never spoke or used words. Instead, he went about his business and communicated with gestures and movements. As such, Jacobsson's character would go on to be appreciated and enjoyed internationally across all of Europe, the USA, and Asian countries including Japan and China. Silent Sam was a big hit in America starting in 1922. Over time, a series of artists brought the strip to life until it was last published in 1964. 

To honor Jacobsson and his contribution to the art of illustration, the Swedish Academy of Comics founded the Adamson Award in 1965. It is given to one Swedish and one international comic creator every year.  You can see a sample of the Adamson cartoon above on the left. 

Adamson dolls are certainly few and far between, and Stefan is super lucky to have one in his collection.
As far as Steiffgal can tell, only three examples of Steiff's Adamson dolls have come up for public auction from 2017 onward. All were sold by Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH of Ladenburg, Germany. They ranged in hammer price from 2600 to 4500 euro. The doll pictured here on the left hammered for 4200 euro in 2021; the image is from 
Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion GmbH.

Steiffgal hopes this blog post about this cigar smoking doll has really lit up your day. 

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