Surprise Steiff Finds at Auction

May 14th, 2010 by

It’s always so much fun to hear where Steiff enthusiasts find their next big, well, find! Check out this question from a reader who is wondering if she has scored big with Steiff at a recent local auction. Leslie writes:

“Hello,

I picked up two stuffed animals at an estate sale that were touted as “Steiff” by the auctioneer; but when I purchased them I saw that neither had an authentic tag of any kind, the one simply had a handmade white hang-tag that had ‘Steiff’ written on it.
Here’s the pair: a cute fawn and kitty. I’m thinking the kitty isn’t Steiff but that the fawn might be. I don’t know a lot about Steiff other than the ones I’ve seen in antique stores and the fawn looks more in keeping with the fabric and style that I’ve seen. I did some hunting online and didn’t find any critters that looked like either to use as a reference so I am clueless.

The fawn is 8.5″ high and 8.5″ tall. She appears to be made of velveteen with what I assume is mohair in the ears, under the tail and on the chest and tummy. The eyes are a solid black/dark brown rounded beads with a white leather piece attached behind the bead. The nose and mouth are stitched, though the one side of the mouth stitching is missing on part of it. The feet and ear tips appear to be painted or dyed on the velveteen. Seems to be stuffed with excelsior and have a wire frame as her long legs and neck/body are very sturdy.

The cat is 10″ nose to tail and 3.5″ high. She seems to be made of mohair with a fiber stuffing, possibly excelsior in the legs as they sound a little “crunchy” when I squeeze them. She has stitched slits for eyes in black and an aged light pink stitched nose and mouth. Her eyes appear to look “closed” and she is sleeping face-down.

Any information or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. Either way, they are clearly old and sweet.

Best, Leslie”

Leslie, yes, this sweet set is definitely made by Steiff and congratulations on your great score! They were both produced basically in the same time frame, so Steiffgal wouldn’t be surprised if they were purchased together for a lucky youngster maybe 40+ or so years ago. It is always nice to keep sets like this together, like old friends.

Let’s take a look at each item, and the interesting histories that accompany them.

First of course is the dear deer. But this isn’t just any forest friend, this is Steiff’s Bambi Reh or Bambi deer. She is standing, unjointed, and mostly made from light brown velvet with lighter tan spots on her back. Her chest, tail, and ears are light tan mohair. She has mile-long legs and the most precious face imaginable. Her eyes are huge almond shaped peepers with detailed white and tan painted backings. Bambi was produced from 1951 through 1972 in 14 and 22 cm. She was manufactured under a license from the Walt Disney Company. When Bambi was new, she had a special chest tag noting that partnership arrangement.

It is interesting that the Walt Disney Company released their now famous animated feature, Bambi, in the summer of 1942. This was just a few months before the time that Steiff temporarily stopped producing playthings due to the war, in 1943. Steiff began toy manufacturing again in the late 1940′s. This Steiff Bambi model was one of the very first licensed items in the line post-war, in 1951. And given that it can take months or years to secure a co-branded license, work on bringing a Bambi to the Steiff line probably was one of the earlier Steiff initiatives undertaken once the factory was open for business in 1948 or so.

It appears that the next treasure entered Leslie’s life on little cat’s feet. This cat-napping cutie is Steiff’s Floppy Kitty Cat. Kitty is made from tan mohair which has been hand-airbrushed with black stripes. She is in a flat, lying position. She is unjointed, and very soft – after all, she was designed as a sleeping companion for children (or people who used to be children!) Kitty has closed black embroidered eyes and a pink embroidered nose and mouth. She left the factory in Giengen with a bright red bow around her neck. Kitty was made from 1953 through 1969 in 17 and 28 cm.

Kitty is one of Steiff’s beloved “sleeping” style animals. Steiff produced a great number of these precious animals during the 1950’s through the 1970’s. These included a Zotty Teddy and panda bear, fox, Cocker Spaniel, Siamese cat, tabby cat, seal, and elephant, among others. They were all prone in position and referred to as “floppy” or “cosy” animals. Most were made in two standard sizes, 17 and 28 cm; all were stuffed with soft foam. Each animal had one of a number of “sleeping eyes” designs. All of these bedtime companions were simplified versions of well-known Steiff animal designs. Most, if they had legs, had them splayed out from their torsos like a “V”. The picture above on the left shows Steiff’s sleeping tiger and baby lion, other well known floppy “cats” from the same time frame as Leslie’s Kitty.

Steiffgal hopes that all readers, like Leslie, run across Steiff treasures with great legacies in the most expected – and unexpected – places!

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

Leave a Reply