Steiffgal is nothing but a big toothy grin this week after receiving a positive report about a family member who soon will be returning to good health. No one can disagree that a smile certainly looks better, and feels so much better, than a frown! In celebration of good news – and the hopes that some is also headed to each and every SteiffLife reader – the time is certainly right to quick look at some vintage Steiff collectibles known especially for their distinctive smiles and gleaming pearly whites!
Let’s first give a hand to terrifically toothsome Hand-Wolf Loopy or Loopy wolf puppet. Loopy is 18 cm and made from white and gray mohair . His face and the tips of his paws, ears, and nose are detailed with lightly applied black airbrushing. Loopy has green glass pupil eyes and a black stitched nose. His most prominent feature is certainly his mouth; it is open and lined in peach colored felt. He has a pinkish colored tongue and four not-so-sharp plastic canine teeth. Loopy as a puppet appeared in the Steiff line from 1956 through 1978; this model was also produced in 1964 as a full fledged standing item in 25 and 35 cm.
This next item is “long in the tooth”, both literally and figuratively! Here we have Paddy Walross or Paddy walrus, with his remarkably long white wooden tusks. Paddy is 14 cm and made from dark tan mohair that has been airbrushed with brown shading and spots. He is in what Steiff refers to as a “begging” position. Paddy has black and white googly eyes, a pink stitched nose, and mono-filament whiskers. His “moustache” is made from longer, stiff mohair, which has the look and feel of the mohair used on Steiff hedgehogs over the years. Paddy was made from 1959 through 1965 in 10, 14, and 22 cm.
Care to share a “spot” of tea with this smiling Englische Bulldogge or English Bulldog? This champion canine is 18 cm, standing, and head jointed. He is made from tan mohair that has been very carefully hand detailed with multicolored airbrushed “spots” over his body and tail end. He is has the most “sturdy” look and feel about him! His face is also painted with “wrinkles” on his forehead. He has black and white googly eyes, a black stitched nose, and outstanding mouth-area “jowls”, much like a real bulldog. He has an open, peach colored felt mouth with two lower pointy canine teeth. And just to prove he’s top-dog, he sports a red leather collar and a horse hair ruff. This English Bulldog was made from 1956 through 1961 as a United States exclusive, most likely appearing on the shelves of high end retailers such as FAO Schwarz.
Steiffgal always likes to end on a high note, but in this case our final item today is truly out of this world – both in terms of looks and scarcity! This majorly-toothed martian is Steiff’s Gruenes Maennchen, or Little Green Man. He is 35 cm tall and made from green colored trevira velvet. His proportions are much like Steiff’s iconic “lulac” animals, with their long torsos and dangling limbs. His arms and legs have wire armature so they can be posed in playful ways. His face is utterly charming. He has enormous black and white googly eyes, one thick black strand of “hair” on his forehead, pert ears, a prominent bulbous nose, and an open mouthed ear-to-ear grin. And of course… a huge set of white felt buck teeth. Little Green Man was designed for Steiff by the Belgian artist Mallet and was in the line from 1982 through 1984. It is most unusual for Steiff to produce items designed by people outside the company so his pedigree, in combination with his limited time of production, puts him on the “wish list” of many collectors around the world.
Mother Teresa once said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Steiffgal hopes this column gave you a smile, and that you pass that goodwill onto someone else today, too!
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, toothy or otherwise? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.
Who says vintage American folk art isn’t worth its weight in gold? The scales are definitely tipped in favor of this delightful painting I found last weekend at the New England Antique Show’s Spring Fever Antiques and Design Show and Sale. Let’s take a listen – and a look – at this intriguing piece of nautically inspired artwork by Cape Cod artist Ralph Cahoon.
What “hangs in the balance” here is a painting entitled “Weighing in the Catch.” The piece itself is oil on board and measures 13.75″ by 11.5″. The painting depicts an unfazed fisherman “weighing” a lovely, bejeweled mermaid, much like he would his daily catch of cod or flounder. But this take is clearly a dreamy “catch of the day!” Don’t you wonder what he’s REALLY thinking? The painting’s details include a folksy “no fishing” sign crookedly hammered to a tree, a calm ocean bay, and a lighthouse in the background.
It would be fair to say that Cape Cod and the Atlantic 0cean were pivotal influences in Ralph Cahoon’s life and career as an artist. Born in Chatham, Massachusetts in 1910, Ralph spent his early years on the beach, sailing, and fishing – and skillfully sketching these carefree pastimes for fun. In 1932, he married fellow Cape-Codder Martha Farham. Martha and her family were known for their talents in hand painting furniture. After Ralph and Martha married, they started their own very successful decorating and antiques business in Cotuit, Massachusetts. They would paint tables, chests, chairs, boxes, bookcases… just about anything that suited their fancy. Their collector base for these one-of-a-kind items really started to expand.
Fast forward a few years to 1953 and the Cahoons started reeling in the big catch. Ralph and Martha’s work was noticed and promoted by the wealthy New York socialite, art dealer, and future co-owner of the New York Mets, Joan Whitney Payson. Payson worked with the Cahoons to transition their talents from furniture decorating to wall art painting. She framed some of their paintings and displayed their works in her upscale Long Island shop, called the Country Art Gallery. They became a sensation among affluent New Yorkers, who loved them for their happy, innocent themes of carefree life by the sea. Ralph’s works depicting playful, not-quite-risque mermaids became his “signature” pieces. The Cahoons would go on to an almost 30 year career of commercial success, showing at galleries across the United States and through their own studio on Cape Cod.
Ralph passed away in 1982, at the age of 72. He continued to paint up until his last days. Martha lived through 1999, and like Ralph, was an active artist until the end. After Ralph died, Martha sold their Cape Cod home and studio to Rosemary Rapp, a friend and local art enthusiast who converted the building to an art museum. Today, the Cahoon Museum of American Art features works by both Ralph and Martha Cahoon, contemporary artists, as well as other well known 19th and 20th century artists including Alvan Fisher, Ralph A. Blakelock, Benjamin Champney, and Martin Lewis. It is a wonderful destination for art lovers visiting Cape Cod and well worth the trip.
Today, Ralph Cahoon’s works continue to be of great interest for collectors. Recently, several larger pieces have sold in the $150,000 range. This particular work, Weighing in the Catch, is available for $15,000 from Bradford Trust Fine Art of Harwich Port, Cape Cod.
Net-net, I would like to thank Roy Mennell of Bradford Trust Fine Art for hooking me up with this great piece of fishing-inspired American art. Bradford Trust Fine Art offers a wide selection of American and European 19th and 20th century art and specializes in artworks of coastal New England (including Maine and Boston area) and Cape Cod, particularly Provincetown. For more information about this piece, please contact Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is your very favorite antiquing, vintage, or design find? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.
Learn more about New England Antique Shows and their upcoming events by clicking here!
Like anything curly, where something ends it starts again! Just a few days ago Steiffgal shared with you some of the history behind Steiff’s delightful, well-coiffed canines – the poodles! This wonderful inquiry from a reader in Massachusetts suggests that we pick up right where we left off. Stephen writes…
I recently bought some old dolls, toys and a few Steiff animals from a woman who had them as a child in the 1950′s.
I have not been able to identify a large white poodle anywhere online. He stands about 20″ tall from paw to top of head and 20″ long from head to tail. He has a jointed head only. He is mohair and dirty. He has a Steiff button in his right ear and a tag on one leg which is somewhat frayed. He is stuffed, but not soft.
Can you tell me anything about him?
Wow, this is some rare, top dog worthy of a blue ribbon for sure! What a great “fetch!”
What Stephen has so fortunately stumbled upon is an outstanding poodle that was made for one year only, in 1952. This precious pooch’s name (like many of the Steiff poodles) is “Snobby”. Snobby was produced in 17 and 28 cm in both black and white. He is made from wool plush, with a French trim (meaning a long mohair front and a short mohair rear), and has a swivel head. Because he is described as “hard stuffed”, he is probably filled with excelsior, which is wood-wool shavings.
There are three several things, besides his really limited appearance in the Steiff line, which make this poodle most interesting from a collector’s perspective.
The first is the white tag that Stephen mentions in his note. This is a US Zone tag, which shows that this poodle was made shortly after the factory in Giengen, Germany reopened after World War ll. This small white linen tag with black lettering appears (or appeared, it tends to get loved off) on all Steiff items produced between 1947 and 1953.
The second is his rare button. As you can see, This Snobby poodle is sporting a very unusual “knopf im ohr” which has the word “Steiff” in raised in block capitals. (If you click on the picture it should enlarge…) This identification was only used from 1947 through 1952. To put things in perspective, Steiffgal only has 3 vintage Steiff items with this “all capitals” button out of a collection of several hundred vintage items.
And third is his name. This Snobby is the namesake grand-daddy of all Snobby poodles as he is the first and ORIGINAL Snobby in the Steiff line!
Steiffgal hopes that this second column on these handsome hounds has doubled your interest in Steiff poodles!
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.
Finally! After looking for almost ten years, Steiffgal finally landed one of her dream pieces! After waiting for several anxious weeks – after all, the package was being mailed from overseas – the box finally arrived and was delivered to Steiffgal’s front step. With great excitement, Steiffgal opened the carton and right away… she knew she had it “maid” in the shade with her newest vintage find, a Steiff poodle named Maidy.
So just who is Maidy, and what makes her so special? Maidy is one of those Steiff “One-derful” items, made for just a year or so. Specifically, she appeared in the Steiff catalog in 1959 only. This black mohair beauty is standing and unjointed. She has a slightly longer mohair “beard” around her chin. Her mouth and claw stitching is done in mauve colored embroidery floss. She was produced in 25 and 30 cm; Steiffgal’s Maidy is the 30 cm version.
There are two things about Maidy, besides her very short time in production, that make her really remarkable. First are her eyes. They are gorgeous, large hand blown almond shaped “peepers”; each has a black pupil, brown iris, and white corners. Readers may recognize these eyes as the same ones that appeared on the pre-war and early post war Steiff little black Scotty dogs. The second is her remarkable mohair covering. It is analogous to the look and feel of “Persian Lamb”, that is, it is distinctly bumpy and textured, with the mohair woven in tightly wound clusters. The only other Steiff item that Steiffgal can think of that uses this textured mohair is (not surprisingly…) Swapl, the black Persian lamb, made from 1957 thorough 1964.
Maidy is an interesting and unusual branch on the Steiff family poodle tree. As a matter of fact, poodles are a legacy breed for Steiff; so much so that at least two of these standing curly coated cuties appeared in the debut catalog of 1892. Soon after, in 1894, Steiff introduced a sitting model which was produced through 1905. In 1908, Steiff gave their poodles a “makeover”; giving them a more toy-like in appearance and configuring them in a playful, begging position. Begging poodles were reintroduced in 1929 after a few years break and remained in the line until 1935. The pre-war tail-turns-head begging poodle, introduced in 1931, was reproduced as a Steiff Club limited edition replica in 1996.
Steiff poodles made an almost constant appearance in the Steiff line post WWII though the end of last century. Tosi, a wool plush poodle made in black or white, was introduced in 1950, just a few years after the factory reopened for business after the war. She was quickly followed by one of Steiff’s most beloved and popular dog designs, Snobby the Poodle. This classic Snobby pattern made her grand debut in 1953 and appeared in the line through 1974 in 10, 14, 22, 35, and 43 cm. Snobby was produced in gray or black mohair, was jointed, and had a little round red felt tongue. Her coat was cut in what Steiff refers to as the “modern trim”, meaning that her limbs, face, tail tip, and head crown were long mohair, while her body and neck were short mohair. This Snobby pattern proved so popular that she was soon being produced in as a riding toy, a puppet, and as a soft, curled up resting animal. Fast forward a few years post the classic Snobby period, Steiff continued to produce dozens of mostly soft plush play poodles in white, black, gray, and brown through the next three decades. The photos above on the left show some of the better and lesser known post-war Steiff poodles; pictured here are a grey mohair 35 cm lying Snobby poodle (1955 – 1967), a black mohair 14 cm black Snobby poodle (1953 – 1974), a 12 cm white plush Whitey poodle (1978 – 1984), and a pair of black plush 50 cm standing and begging studio poodles (1978 – 1984).
Steiffgal hopes this column has noodled your interest in these well-coiffed Steiff canines!
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, big-haired or otherwise? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.
The countdown is on!
Val: Can you tell us about the most unusual item brought to you at an event?
Linda: Sure! I was examining items in a home for an estate tax appraisal. I was crawling around a small storage area and found a few old paintings. One in particular was interesting to me because I recognized the artist immediately, even though it was in terrible condition. I discussed the painting with my client and told him it was painted by one of the “Philadelphia Ten” by the name of Fern Coppedge. Fern was an American artist who lived from 1883 through 1951. I was able to broker the painting and it sold for $250,000! The client was very happy and told me that if I were not there he would have sold the painting for $25 at a house sale!
Steiffgal does not want to hog your valuable time on this lovely spring day, so she’ll keep this post short and sweet (much like the charming item under discussion today!) Let’s get right to the point with this question from a reader who asks about her spiky Steiff hedgehog friend! Eryka writes…
I have a query about a little hedgehog that I got for Christmas from my dad, who knows that I love hedgehogs.
From the tip of his black nose (some sort of plastic ball) to his furry rear end he is about 6 inches. He has two felt front paws, two circular felt ears, and little round black eyes. He has a Steiff button and tag in one of his paws and it says: original Steiff 1670/10 Made in Austria Preis- Price. On the back of the tag it says that he is made from cotton and wool and the number is PA 55 MASS 73. He has airbrushed dark brown lines on his face, and his fur is mainly made up of long, stiff fibers which are light tan at the tips and darker brown near his body. His belly is flat.
What can you tell me about his make and the time period when he was produced? I have attached some photos for you.
Let’s shine a little light on Eryka’s nocturnal buddy. What you have here is what Steiff calls Joggi Igel or Joggi Hedgehog. He is made from spiky “tipped” (meaning that the fiber ends are dyed a different color than the entire length of the fiber) mohair, in a lying position, and has a flat bottom. His sweet tiny face, ears, paws, and underside are made from grey felt. This particular Joggi was made in 6, 10, and 17 cm from 1966 through 2002. Eryka’s Joggi, number 1670/10, dates him in the 1968 to 1985 production period.
Today, hedgehogs are quite prolific in the Steiff line – but that was not always the case. The first hedgehog, as far as Steiffgal can tell, appeared in the Steiff catalog in 1951. Also named Joggi, this standing hedgehog was 12 cm tall and made from mohair from 1951 through 1977, and then mohair and dralon from 1978 through 1985. In 1961, a very similar 12 cm standing hedgehog design was produced; he was manufactured through 1966. Since the 1960′s, hedgehogs in all shapes, sizes, and materials have made regular appearances in the Steiff catalog, appearing as play toys, collector’s editions, woolen miniatures, puppets, wooden pull toys, a purse, and even a golf club cover! The current Steiff line features a tiny Steiff hedgehog keyring, which has the charming looks of the Eryka’s vintage Joggi.
And just why do hedgehogs seem to all of a sudden to be in the Steiff spotlight in from the early 1950′s onward? Steiffgal has a two word theory on this: Mecki and Micki. This beloved and well known (at least in Europe) hedgehog cartoon couple was first designed in Germany in 1940 by the artist Ferdinand Diehl. They became much more famous in the early 1950′s with their regular appearance on the German TV magazine HORZU. The Diehl Film company from Munich granted Steiff the licensing rights to produce the dolls in 1951, and they have been a mainstay in the line to this day. Both Mecki and Micki have been produced in 17, 28, and 50 cm from 1952 onward; a 100 cm Mecki was produced in 1967, perhaps as a special window display. The spiky tipped mohair that has been used for Mecki and Micki’s hair over the years hasn’t changed, and is almost identical to the spiked mohair used on most other mohair Steiff hedgehogs, even today.
Steiffgal hopes this quick review of the history of Steiff hedgehogs has “tipped” you off to a new area of collecting!
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, nocturnal or otherwise? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.
As children, we rarely gave thought to caring for our toys. They were made purely for our entertainment, and not to be dusted and kept on the shelf.
I had my share of Barbie’s who’s hair was cut, colored with a magic marker, and occassionally chewed on by the dog.
My brother could tell you all about flipping baseball cards, creating racetracks for his Matchbox cars and the autographs he collected over the years being a serious sports fan.
Sometimes, when I see a toy I played with as a kid in an antique shop it makes me pause. I wonder, had I taken care of those Barbie’s – what would they be worth today? How many rookie cards did my brother bend, tear and flip that would add up to some serious coin now?
Gone are the days for the $6.00 Barbie. Now, they are designer inspired and can cost a few hundred dollars right off the shelf. How can you justify spending that price when you know they are going to take them out of the box, lose those “designer” shoes within the first week, and potentially get a fresh look by your daughter and a pair of scissors?
Will these toys increase in value over time if you buy them, and place them on the shelf only to be admired from afar?
I don’t have a magic 8 ball to answer that question, but recently I read a press release about a few toys that have increased, just a little, since originally sold.
If you are interested in recreating your youth (or perhaps the youth of your grandparents!) take a look at the upcoming toy auction at RSL Auctions on May 22nd:
The sale consists of 360 lots, which translates to, something for everyone.
A portion of the collection up for sale came from Richard Stevens, an avid mechanical bank collector. Stevens was known for buying only the best. The best meaning the rarest, and those in the best condition.
A few of the best items in the sale are:
J&E Stevens “Calamity” cast iron mechanical bank. This bank comes from the ex-Stephen Steckbeck collection. It still has it’s original box! Estimate: $60-90,000
A very rare circa 1930 Kilgore cast-iron Turtle bank. Formerly in the collections of Stan Sax and Gertrude Hegarty. Estimate: $50-70,000
Circa 1886 – J&E Stevens “Breadwinners” cast-iron mechanical bank in near mint condition. Estimate: $90-120,000
I would have to imagine when these were first produced, the cost was a few dollars (if that).
80-100 years later, their value has increased exponentially!
I find it a bit ironic. A toy created to help children save their money becomes more valuable than the coins placed in it.
They say birds of a feather flock together… and based on this note from a reader in Switzerland, nothing could be closer to the truth! Check out this inquiry from Petra, who asks about a three-quarter century old collection of fine feathered Steiff friends. She writes…
This full nest of birds consists of (left to right) Steiff’s robin (article number 6508,1), green woodpecker (article number 6508,2), finch (article number 6508,3), blue tit (article number 6508,4), sparrow (article number 6508,5), and golden bunting (article number 6508,6). Each is standing, has a swivel head, felt beak and tail feathers, metal legs, and black bead eyes. These birds are made from Nomotta wool, a dense material that feels like a cross between the texture of Steiff’s well-know fuzzy post-war “pom-pom” animals and really lush alpaca. Each of these beautiful birds was in the Steiff line from 1934 through 1943.
This fabulous flock has two mysteries which are fascinating in a good way. The first is the size of the birds. Petra describes each being 5 cm. However, they are all numbered in the 6508,X convention. The ” 08″ in the last digits of the article number series indicates that they are 8 cm. A very intriguing 3 cm disconnect! (Just for interest, all of these birds also came in 4 cm; their article number series is 6504,X.)
The second mystery is the tags on the legs of the birds. In general, as a rule of thumb, white tags indicate products made from 1905 through 1926, reddish-orange ones indicate products made from 1926 to 1934, and yellow ones indicate products made from 1934 onward. One of the birds has a reddish-orange tag and all the others are much lighter, yet the entire collection appears to be from the same time frame. How can this be?
Let’s take a bird’s eye view of the situation. The green woodpecker was made in 1934 – 1943 and has a red tag from the 1926 -1934 time frame. This points to the fact that he most likely was made in 1934 if you align these two factors. It is Steiffgal’s best guess that the whitish colored tags on the other five birds were at one time a pale yellow. If that were the case, since the birds were all made in the 1934 – 1943 time frame, and the yellow tags indicate products made from 1934 onward, the other birds were probably were made also around the same time as the green woodpecker. Net-net, 1934 was a transition time between the reddish tags and the yellow tags, which would explain why the set sports both reddish and lighter Steiff tags.
As for the value of this fine collection of woolen miniatures… Steiffgal is not a formal appraiser and strongly believes that something is “worth” what someone else will pay for it. Many parts of the country are seeing a most welcomed uptick in the economy which may be slowly leveling the playing field between buyers over sellers. It does seem these times still slightly favor buyers over sellers, though! However, this is quite the grouping in fine condition; the crisp pre-war Steiff labels add tremendously to the collection’s appeal. Based on other sales and some auction research, Steiffgal will go out on a lark and value this collection as a group in the $750 – $1000 range.
On a wing and a prayer you made it to the end of this posting on vintage Steiff birds… now that’s a feather in your cap for sure!
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, bird brained or otherwise? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.
Jean Mahie has been a global influence in the jewelry and design industries since the late 1960′s. The principals got their big break when their creations were exhibited at both Van Cleef and Arpels and Cartier in Paris. The work was extremely well received; so much so that it influenced the artistic direction at both major jewelers. A great example of this is the hand hammered cuffs that Van Cleef and Arpels still shows on its web site and which First Lady Jackie Kennedy owned. A photo of Jackie and her Jean Mahie inspired VCA bracelet is featured above on the left.
Fast forward a few years, Jean-Marie and Jacline’s designs were noticed by retail luxury tycoon Stanley Marcus and his director of fine jewelry, Dudley Ramsden. Eventually the line was brought to the United States under an exclusive contract to the upscale Neiman-Marcus store chain. In reference to Jean Mahie designs, Stanley Marcus once wrote: “This jewelry is not for the timid.” By the late 1970s, the artists immigrated to the US and their jewelry was, and continues to be, produced piece by piece here in the US.