Cleaning Your Fine Cut Glass & Crystal

February 9th, 2011 by

Image: McKinley Hill Antiques

Contributed by – a membership-based service specializing in providing identification & appraisal advice on antiques & collectibles.

There is as much difference in the color of glass, meaning only transparent colorless glass or crystal, as there is in the color of diamonds. The beauty and value of antique Glass or Crystal, just like in the case of Precious Stones, are measured very largely by its perfection.

Fine antique glass should be of a purity that practically renders it invisible without any trace of yellow or green cast or opacity. Sometimes it will have a slightly bluish white color. Antique Glassware that otherwise seems clear with respect to its color when seen by itself will often appear at a decided disadvantage when placed beside a really fine piece.

Modern detergents and the use of a good bottle brush will generally suffice for removing the usual discoloration caused by the contents of decanters, cruets, perfume bottles, etc. Where cloudiness or stain persists, many remedies have been suggested and tried with varying degrees of success. Among them:

  • The use of Polident (used for cleaning false teeth)
  • Liquid Plumber (used for clearing clogged drains – highly caustic and requires careful handling)
  • Adding uncooked rice to vinegar and shaking vigorously
  • Using a tea bag with vinegar and letting it soak for 24 hours
  • Allowing chopped potato peel with a small amount of water to stand in a bottle overnight

Oiliness may be removed with alcohol left in for about 15 minutes. In each instance, the item should be thoroughly rinsed and dried afterwards. Strips of cloth may be inserted into bottles to dry them and then removed with a heavy wire or hook.

To obtain the best results, polishing was done in three stages. First, it was done with wooden wheels fed with pumice, stone and water; then brush or wool wheels with the same preparation, and lastly cork or felt wheels with finely compounded putty powder. About the turn of the century, the acid bath, quicker and less expensive came into use for polishing. It was hand-burnishing, however, that gave the superb brilliance down to the smallest detail.

Working the lather into the cuttings with a soft brush, or toothbrush will enhance the brilliance of the deeper and more intricate incisions. The glass should then be dried without draining on a soft towel. When perfectly dry, the cut surfaces should be gone over again with a clean dry brush. A soft, lint free cloth should then be used to give it a high polish.

Antique Glass which continues to cloud up after cleaning and rinsing is known as “sick glass.” It is caused by the formation and separation of crystals due to imperfect fusion of the metal or too high an alkaline content in the making. It can be professionally polished off and then “glass wax” applied if the area can be reached. Frequent applications of the wax will be helpful in delaying further deterioration. Unfortunately, this remedy is usually not practical where it is needed most – in the cleansing of bottle type containers.

The use of ammonia or strongly alkaline soaps on antique Glass or Crystal should be avoided. Extreme and sudden changes of temperature may also be harmful. Before using ice-cream platters, punch bowls, sherbet glasses or other pieces designed for frozen foods or chilled beverages, the glass should be allowed to stand for a few minutes in a cold place or held under a jet of cold water.

Cut glass with sterling silver mountings was once very popular. To this very day, many people consider the use of sterling articles with cut glass as the basis for the most elegant table settings. However, each section must be carefully cleaned using a different ‘set of rules’.  In general, in cases of antiques that are made of a mix of different materials, please be careful so as not to have certain chemicals or cleaning agents suitable for one material come in contact with other parts.

For information and useful advice on cleaning Metal items, including Antique Sterling Silver or Antique Silverplate, please see another article on under the “SILVER & JEWELRY” section.

You can also read the article, CARE, CLEANING and CONSERVATION METHODS for ANTIQUE METAL WARE: Useful tips in restoring Antique Lamps, Clocks, Ormolu, Spelter, Bronze etc, right here on the blog!  We’ll be posting this article next so be sure to come back for these useful tips!

Happy Birthday To Us!

February 3rd, 2011 by turned a year on Feb 1st 2011!  Thanks to all of our vendors for helping us to build our site into one of the best antiques sites on the web!  We’ve had more than 15oo dealers join in the fun so far, and we’re always looking for more.  We’re excited to offer over 80,000 items for sale on, but that number increases every day as more and more vendors sign up to be a part of our growing family.

To all of the people that visit looking for the perfect gift, trying to spruce up their home with a beautiful antique, or simply out of curiosity, thank you for coming!

And for everyone, vendors and antique aficionados alike, we’ve recently added a few features to our home page that we think you’ll enjoy!

- First, check out the Deal Of The Day – Each day we’ll offer a new deal from a vendor that is eager to give you a beautiful antique for a steal!

- Next, feast your eyes on the Cool Antique Of The Week – Each week we’ll show you something interesting from the site that is available to be purchased and fawned over by it’s new owner!

- And finally, have some fun with What Is This Antique? – Each week we’ll choose a new and interesting, if not a bit obscure, antique to feature for this game.  Take a guess, or several guesses, at what you think it is, and then each Monday we’ll publish the list of guesses submitted by everyone, along with the actual name and description of the antique. strives to offer a wide variety of beautiful and interesting antiques, collectibles, and fine art pieces.  We’re looking forward to another stellar year where we add to our already impressive list of vendors and push our inventory to over 100,000 items!  So Happy Birthday To Us!  We’re looking forward to another fantastic year!

Collecting With Jeff – October News Letter – by Jeff Figler

November 3rd, 2010 by

The Hunt for Sonny Randle

On my list of favorite football athletes are several players from St. Louis and San Diego, cities in which I have lived for many years. Of course there is Dan Fouts, LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshall Faulk, Sonny Randle, and a few others on that list. That’s right, Sonny Randle.

After browsing through some recent clippings about Randle, I attempted to get some old cards of his. Well, after contacting a half dozen or so dealers, I finally ran across Touchdown Treasures, owned and operated by Michael Hattley. My Sonny Randle card hunt was over, at least temporarily. Hattley sent me an inventory list of the St. Louis Cardinals (football) items he has. It looked like a small town telephone directory. And that was only of one team.
Talk about someone with passion about what he does. Hattley, a former financial guy, was an avid collector himself, and decided to make his avocation a vocation, by starting Touchdown Treasures some twenty-four years ago. The company specializes only in football memorabilia. Through the years, merchandise of the Packers, Giants, and Steelers have been requested the most. Although Touchdown Treasures is based in Greenwich, Connecticut, Hattley’s favorite team is the Miami Dolphins. Why?

Mike said that the most unusual piece he has ever sold was a 1977 Topps NFL Mexican set. There were only twenty sets sold. Wow! Makes you wonder if Chad Ochocinco has a set. The cards were all in Spanish. I would have a tough time with that one.

Michael Hattley is an optimist, even in this economy. Yes, the market is down, but vintage or unique items will hold their own.

If you have a football item “wish list”, you might want to contact Hattley. After all, he has an inventory of 39,531 football related items. That was the total a few days ago, maybe it is more by now. I bet he even has some Sonny Randle items. On second thought, I hope not. He is supposed to be selling all those to me.

Hattley can be reached at (203) 532-9214, or at Touchdown Treasures conducts both auctions and sales.

In Collectibles Market, Manning is no Brady

Recently on one of my radio broadcasts, I got into a lively discussion about which one NFL player I would start a team with. It is my humble opinion that I would start with a quarterback, while others in the discussion chose other positions. Names of players were thrown out, including Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, and even Ed Reed. Yes, that’s right, Ed Reed. He is a terrific player, but I don’t think you can pick a defensive player to be your cornerstone man. I can see picking a running back, but I still think a quarterback comes first.

So who would I pick? If I was doing the honors today, it would be Peyton Manning. If you ask me next year I might say Peterson or even Philip Rivers, the incredible quarterback of the Chargers. You watch, Rivers has what it takes, and if he can win a Super Bowl or two, and San Diego is capable of doing so, Rivers will be at the head of the quarterback class.

But for now, give me Peyton Manning. This 2009 season may very well be his best, especially if you consider the fact that he is without his main man, Marvin Harrison. Joseph Addai should not be mistaken for Edgerin James either. The Colts simply replace parts as necessary. Do I think that Manning will lead the Colts to another Super Bowl victory this season? Hardly. I don’t think the Colts will even make it out of the AFC Championship game. That’s right. And now I’ll probably be flooded with emails about how my thinking is distorted.

Funny thing about Manning and the 1998 draft. The two top college quarterbacks in that draft were Manning of Tennessee, and Ryan Leaf of Washington State. Both the Colts and Chargers desperately needed quarterbacks, and Indianapolis had the first selection, and the Chargers the third. San Diego gave up the kitchen sink to Arizona to move up one spot. The rest is history. The course of the NFL was changed. Manning became, well, Manning, and Ryan Leaf became, uh, let’ just say, one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

However, let it be remembered that in Manning’s first season the Indianapolis Colts were a dismal 3-13.

Despite Peyton Manning’s achievements on and off the gridiron, his collectibles have not gone spectacular. Why he hasn’t been as big of a box office star with collectibles as, for example, a Tom Brady, or a Joe Montana, is likely due to the fact that for a long time he did not have any Super Bowl rings. Now he has one, as the Manning-led Colts defeated the Chicago Bears a few years ago. The fact, too, that he plays in a relatively small Midwestern market does not help. Put him in a New York or a Chicago and the scenario would undoubtedly be different.

For the record, in a 2008 auction, his 2000 game-used helmet went for just shy of $5000. His 2004 game-worn signed shoes fetched slightly over $4000 in a 2007 auction. His jerseys usually bring in upwards of a few thousand dollars, depending, of course, if they are signed.

The Colts have flourished with Peyton Manning at the helm. At age 33, opposing defenses are going to have to put up with him and his gyrations at the line of scrimmage for at least a handful of more years.

Collecting With Jeff – September News Letter – by Jeff Figler

September 28th, 2010 by

Early bobbleheads hold some value

Bobbleheads are among the most popular current collectibles. Bobblehead dolls are also called bobbinghead dolls, or even nodders. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the word “nodders”, but that is only my opinion.

What I do know is that the dolls, call them whatever you like, are very collectible, and some have become quite valuable. They are popular because they are colorful, lightweight, and affordable (if not free). Many professional sports teams have used them successfully as promotional items. And it really doesn’t even matter who the doll is of. I remember going to a game in Arizona, and they had a bobblehead doll giveaway of a player who wasn’t even on the team any longer. Go figure. I guess that when you go to the expense of making ten or twenty thousand dolls, then you had better at least give them away. Most youngsters would not even care who the doll was of.

However, recently I was sent an email from someone who had accumulated a few promotional dolls from stadium events, and he wanted to know if they were worth much. Unfortunately, no. The dolls that are worth the most are the ones that are from the early days, let’s say from the early 1960s to the late 70s. The two most valuable player dolls are of Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays. In good condition, which is often a problem, these dolls can go for as much as $2000.

Why I would have passed on the ARod ball

You may have read that the ball that Alex Rodriguez hit for his 500th career home run was recently auctioned by SCP Auctions.

The high bid for the ball was $103,579 including a 20% buyer’s premium. Pretty good price I would say, but knowing SCP Auctions president, David Kohler, I am sure he thought it could have gone for more. I would have said the same thing. Kohler is one of the true professionals in the industry, and has a huge collection of Lakers (Minneapolis and Los Angeles) memorabilia. I have to admit that I never have been a huge Laker fan, but some marvelous players have worn Laker uniforms. But don’t try to sell me a James Worthy or Gail Goodrich jersey.
I applaud the winning bidder of the Rodriguez ball, but if it were me, I would have saved my money and in a couple of years go after the A-Rod homerun ball that passes Barry Bonds’ career home run total. It is inevitable that the record will be broken. Bonds “retired” with 762 homers, and A-Rod now has 583. Rodriguez is 34 years old, and will probably need four or five years to reach Bond’s mark, if he stays healthy. Staying healthy is always key, but the Commissioner’s office will jump for joy when Rodriguez passes Bonds, probably in 2014. That ball would be worth going after, and might fetch over a million dollars, maybe even a couple of million.

But you know what? There happens to be another ballplayer who has 366 career homeruns and is only 30 years old. Hmm. Try Albert Pujols. However, Rodriguez may have too far of a lead already for Pujols to catch him. Should prove interesting.

Trivia Questions

1.  Which former tennis great had a brother who pitched for the San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays?

2.  What is the record for the most runs scored in an inning in MLB game since 1900 by one team?

3.   Who is the only college football player to have won the Heisman Trophy twice?

4.  What is the NFL record for the most consecutive road games won?

5.  Who were the five original members of the Baseball Hall of Fame?

6.  Who holds the NBA record for most rebounds in a game?

7.  Which NFL team holds the record for the most two point conversions in an NFL game?

8.  Who was the first NFL quarterback to throw more than 4000 yards in three consecutive seasons?

9.  Who holds the modern American League record for wins in a season?

10. John Wooden has won the most NCAA college basketball tournament national championships.  Who is second?

Collector Books to Close After 40 Years

September 14th, 2010 by

After 40 years of supplying invaluable information for the antiques and collectibles market, Collector Books is closing its doors. With the release of its last 14 titles this fall, Collector Books will cease publication, though it will stay open through 2011 to sell out its remaining inventory of over 235,000 books.

Collector Books, a division of Schroeder Publishing, began in 1969 when Bill Schroeder saw a need and filled it. This simple want ad, “We buy & sell old fruit jars. Send $1.00 for complete list. Refundable on first transaction. Schroeder’s, Rt. 4, Paducah, KY.”, didn’t generate many sales, but it drew dozens of inquiries from owners interested in information about their jars. Bill compiled a booklet called “1000 Fruit Jars with Current Values” and by 1974 had quit his day job so he could devote all his time to Collector Books.

While Collector Books has published over 1500 different titles on antiques and collectibles, it is their price guide that set an industry standard. Published annually since 1982, Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide had been the ‘blue book’ of the antiques and collectibles market for almost 30 years. But the current wealth of information available for free on the internet, coupled with the technology to access it immediately even from the most remote locations, has made such price guides obsolete.

Collectors no longer have to cart around a milk crate full of books when they go hunting. All they need is a cell phone web browser. The ‘information super highway’ has made it possible to access price information instantaneously. And gone, too, is the thrill of the hunt. Where collectors once had to search high and low for rare items, the internet has brought them right into the palm of their hands, causing an overall drop in antiques prices as well.

And so, the 29th edition of Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide will be the last, and as Bill Schroeder has said, it’s the end of an era.

Telling his employees that the company would be closing wasn’t easy. “I’ve been in just about every facet of the business since I was thirteen,” said Schroeder. “It’s one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make and it’s emotional”, he said in an interview with WPSD, the local news station. “We’ve tried every avenue we could. Forty years. That’s a long time.”

Collector Books employs about 50 people. Although 8 have already been laid off, Schroeder has said that most will be transferred to Schroeder Publishing’s other division, the American Quilter’s Society. (Bill & Meredith founded the American Quilters Society in 1984, and built what is now called the National Quilt Museum in 1991.) The company will continue to publish quilting guides as well as their two magazines, “American Quilter” and “Quilt Life”.

“The Glass Cupboard” for

Antique Typewriters

August 26th, 2010 by

As a writer and a lover of quirky old machinery, there are few collectible antiques more fascinating to me than typewriters. I even love the word “typewriter,” with its punched-out mechanical consonants and its utter obsolescence. My love affair began when my grandparents bequeathed their old machines to me, assuming I could find some use for them in my line of work. I don’t actually use any of my typewriters, but I do gaze at them, and I do carry them (all 130 fragile pounds of them—my Royal weighs more than my dog) from one house to another every time I move.

Over the years I’ve been asked many questions about typewriters, specifically about the value of old machines that arrived in the questioner’s life the same way mine did. It seems as if every day a dusty Remington or Smith Brothers machine is unearthed in a basement and handed over to the nearest writer in the family. I have good news and bad news about this. But first, a little history.

A Short History of the Typewriting Machine, With Anatomy Lesson.

There are two forms of what we call the “typewriter”: The index and the keyboard. The index is a primitive little device that looks like a wheel mounted on a board. It appeared at the end of the 1800’s but was quickly made obsolete by the keyboard, which is somewhat more recognizable. The first successful keyboard typewriter was designed and sold in 1873 by Sholes and Glidden.

The next century brought us two versions of keyboard machine:

The Typebar: In this version, a pressed letter key swings a bar with a molded typeface toward a waiting paper surface. The typeface is either inked by a rollbar, or it collides with an inked ribbon that lies between itself and the paper. Most machines made between 1874 and 1960, despite their fantastic variety, operate by some version of this method.

The Single Element: In this version, all type exists on a drum or ball element and when a key is pressed, the whole element swings around to present the desired type to the paper. This version was popularized in 1960 by the IBM Selectic. Its arrival heralded (to my way of thinking) the end of the typewriter’s golden age.

The strangest and most beautiful typewriter models are the earliest, the ones introduced between 1874 and 1915. These are known as “unconventional”.

In 1895, Underwood designed the first “conventional” model: Four rows of keys, a single shift, ribbon inking, and a front strike type bar. After 1895, conventional models became the norm, and by the 1930s almost all typewriter models looked more or less the same.

Between 1874 (the beginning) and 1960 (the end), typewriters had a fantastic run. Especially during the early years, they symbolized all of the reckless innovative exuberance of the industrial revolution, standing on a perfect overlay between business efficiency and mechanical whimsy.

Collectible Typewriters

Despite their beauty, typewriters have some quirks that set them apart from other memorabilia and collectibles.  For one thing, nobody throws typewriters away. So of the millions of Royal and Smith Corona machines produced in the earlier half of the century, most are still in circulation and are surprisingly well cared for. So they are not rare, not usually.


  • The world of typewriter collecting is like the wild west right now. There are no catalogue values or price guides as there are with collectable dolls or collectable baseball cards. The value of each machine lies only in the opinion of the buyer and seller. The wild frontiers of antiques collecting are always tamed eventually– In this case, nobody is sure why it’s taking so long.
  • This doesn’t apply to typewriters made before 1915. If you own any of these beautiful typewriters, your model is rare and it is certainly valuable, depending on whom you ask:
    • American Visible, 1893
    • Chicago, 1898
    • Corona, 1912
    • New Model Crandall, 1881
    • Ford, 1895
    • Junior, 1907
  • This is also true of the following collectible Royals:
    • The No 5 Flatbed
    • The No 1 Flatbed
    • The No 10 with beveled glass windows on the sides.

By Erin Sweeney


Collecting with Jeff – July Newsletter – By Jeff Figler

July 28th, 2010 by

The following articles Jeff wrote recently for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Arguably, a ticket to the Masters Tournament has the reputation of being the hardest ticket to get in all of sports. From my golfing aficionado friend Jerry Rockwell, a ticket is not as difficult as it has been, but it is still mighty tough. You can get a ticket if you are a patron, have connections, or, oh my gosh, have the money. Rockwell should know. A former touring pro on the Grapefruit Tour, now called The Nationwide Tour, he has been to virtually every Masters since 2005. He also holds the dubious distinction of trying to teach me how to play golf, but he failed miserably. I don’t know why, but golfing and me are simply incompatible.  Despite that, I am a golf fan, and of the Masters in particular.

Besides tickets to the Masters being difficult to procure, and relatively pricey, memorabilia also can be a bit costly as well. Try these auction results. A 2005 Arnold Palmer-signed Masters Tournament Flag went for $353, a 1974 Masters Badge for $250, and a 1975 Spectator Guide Program for $125. In addition, a 1997 Gene Sarazen button sold for $895 in a 2008 auction, while a 1998 menu signed by Tiger Woods brought in $2932.

However, one of the most unique auction items has been the 1997 Tiger Woods Masters Tournament-used golf bag. You are probably wondering how much that went for. Well, first keep in mind that 1997 was the first year that Tiger Woods won the Masters. Okay, how about $89,625. And the bag was not even signed. I don’t know who owns it, but I know I don’t. That is not your typical item. An item that is a little less expensive is a Woods-signed Masters flag. It went for $1248. A little more like it.

I wouldn’t mind adding a ticket to the Masters to my collection. Does anyone have an extra one?


One of the true annual highlights for many sports collectors is the National Sports Collectors Convention. This year the Convention will be held, for the first time, in Baltimore, from August 4-8, 2010.

As the Convention is on the East Coast, that may defer some collectors from coming if they are from too far away. But it is good to move the venue around.

The Convention is a great opportunity to see if any of your “wish list” items are available. It is also the perfect place to see old friends in the industry.

If you haven’t been to a National before you will see booths of large and small vendors from across the country. Do yourself a favor, and have a list of what you are specifically looking for. If you don’t, and if you don’t have a budget, trust me, you can easily be overwhelmed. A few years ago I had a “wish list” of four items, and wouldn’t you know it, I found three of them at the Convention. The other one took a couple more years to get.

At this National also there will be approximately 60-70 Hall of Famers and other stars from the major sports there to sign autographs. A few of this year’s signing stars include Cal Ripken, Jr., Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Tom Seaver, Bart Starr, and Joe Montana.

What started out in 1980, when a group of collectors got together in a small hotel ballroom at the Los Angeles International Airport Marriott, for what became the first National Sports Collectors Convention, has now become a full-fledged major convention.

And if you do go, try to come one of the early days in the Convention. If you wait too long, some of the vendors may be gone, as well as some of the items that you specifically wanted.

See you in Baltimore.

Antique Toys: A Basic Field Guide to Three Rare Species of Antique Teddy Bear

July 20th, 2010 by

When Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that had been pursed to exhaustion and tied to a tree, he inspired Morris Michtom, a candy store owner, to design and sell a stuffed bear in his honor. This happened in 1902, and the Michtom bear with its jointed arms and legs would become the grand ancestor of one of the most popular and iconic toys in America. A century later, of course, it would also become a sought-after item among collectors of antique toys. But the Michtom bear shares this distinction with another bear, the Steiff bear, a toy designed and launched independently by German toymaker Richard Steiff at approximately the same time. Steiff was allegedly inspired by the sight of bears performing in a circus and wanted to create a toy that was jointed, soft, and somewhat human-shaped, part toy bear and part doll.

As all bear collectors—arctophiles—know, both Michtom and Steiff bears were a huge success. And since their popularity began to surge in 1904, any bear created before that year is considered one of the very first teddy bears in America, a rare and valuable find in the world of antique toys.

A wide diversity in teddy bear styles and features began to proliferate in 1906, and during the century that followed, many famous bear manufacturers rose and fell on the same waves that shaped American and European history. German bears, for example, experienced a reduced distribution to America during World War I. Only one German bear maker, Bing, managed to continue production during the war. This allowed British and American toymakers a new foothold in the teddy bear market, and when a certain British bear created by J. K. Farnell and Co inspired A. A. Milne to write the immortal Winnie-the-Pooh books in 1926, their ensuing popularity led Farnell bears to take their place beside Steiff and Bing bears as one of the most collectable antique toys of the present era.

So what sets Steiff, Bing, and Farnell Bears apart from other bears and from one another? As far as early Bing and Steiff bears are concerned, not much. In fact, Bing fought legally with Steiff over many early similarities between the two bears, including the famous button-in-ear feature. Early Bing bears had a metal plate attached to the ear with the letters GBN imprinted in a triangle. But after Steiff’s legal challenges, this identifier was called a “mark”, no longer a “button”, and it was moved under the left arm.

Both early Steiff and Bing bears had boot button eyes, usually black. Early Farnell bears had button eyes too, but later Farnell versions were distinguished by eyes made of amber colored glass. All three companies made their first bears with long, curved arms, spoon-shaped paws, and seams running up the front of the bear rather than the back. They also made their bears out of mohair and gave them features meant to resemble real bears, such as humped backs and longish, realistic-looking noses. Farnell bears often had stitched “claws” on the backs of their paws.

Among antique toys, Farnell, Steiff and Bing teddy bears are considered relatively safe items to collect since they are difficult to counterfeit. But always check the tags on your antique bear and keep an eye out for certain features like real mohair (not synthetic), velvet paw pads (rather than cotton), hand stitching, and wooden rather than metal or plastic joints. Also keep an eye out for “wood wool” stuffing, a kind of soft wood shaving. Even when the era of wool stuffing began in the 1920’s, Steiff, Bing, and Farnell were still using wood wool to stuff their bears’ heads.

Is your Steiff, Farnell or Bing bear valuable? As with all antique toys, the answer depends on the prevailing market and the condition of the bear. But recent buying guides have placed a Steiff jointed bear with a blank ear button, circa 1905, at about $1,225. Farnell and Bing mohair bears made before 1917 may be offered at similar prices. If you own a bear made during this period, or any plush antique toy, keep it safe. If you need to clean it, do so gently with a damp cloth. Better, have it cleaned by a professional. It’s easy enough to explain the popularity of the teddy bear—teddy bears are huggable! But this also makes them rare and valuable among antique toys, because they don’t tend to last long.

- Erin Sweeney

Steiff’s very own cover girl!

June 15th, 2010 by

There are many great reasons to start a community site. Steiffgal created MySteiffLife so collectors from all over the world would have an online destination to learn and share information about vintage playthings from this remarkable toy company from Germany.

That being the case, Steiffgal wanted to share this brief note from a collector in Germany who sheds some light on a Steiff mystery (at least to those of us here in the USA) that’s at least a few dog years old. Awhile back, Steiffgal wrote a post about a darling and beloved Steiff Cocker Spaniel dog named Revue Susi. Susi is sitting, made from blond mohair, and head jointed. Her head is quite detailed and completely adorable; she has large plastic pupil eyes, airbrushed “eyebrows” and lips, pronounced doggy jowls, and floppy ears made of long, lush mohair. Revue Susi was produced in 4 sizes – 12, 17, 28, and 35 cm – from 1959 through 1977.
One of the things that is really unusual about Revue Susi is her name. For some reason, Revue Susi is the only Cocker Spaniel with a name other than Cockie.  Why is that?  Check out Claudia’s note to find out!  She writes…
“Hello Steiffgal,

Just found your wonderful blog on the internet. And I am happy that I can clarify the mystery over the name of Revue Susi for you.

Revue was a German people-magazine from 1946 to 1966. Its mascot dog was Susi. But I believe that Susi was a dachshund (as there was a prize winning game, where you could win a sibling of Susi and the dog to be won was a dachshund!).

In the attachment you can see a picture of Susi on the front cover of the magazine.”

Best collector wishes from Germany, Claudia”

Claudia, on behalf of all the Steifflife readers, many thanks for this wonderful information on Revue Susi and the delightful magazine cover showing her probable namesake!  What an interesting story!  Steiffgal is certain that everyone would agree that this photogenic pup certainly lives up to her the covergirl (Steiffgal means cover dog!) legacy.

Do you know any Steiff insights you would like to share? Send them to Steiffgal at so she can share them here with our wonderful growing community of Steiff collectors.

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

Steiff Bears

June 7th, 2010 by

Love at first sight. Have you ever “felt” that way about a potential Steiff addition to your collection?  Well, Steiffgal did recently, when she came across – and ended up buying – this remarkable turn of last century felt Steiff girl doll.  Check out Steiffgal’s latest button-in-ear find and the interesting history and details behind this rare and unusual piece!

Steiffgal saw this darling blue eyed beauty recently listed on eBay and knew right away this doll belonged in her collection. This tiny treasure is 22 cm, made from flesh colored felt, and is five ways jointed. She is firmly stuffed with excelsior.  Her feet are very simple, but her hands have distinctive fingers and thumbs.  Her belly has a seam down the middle which has been carefully sewn up by hand.  The doll’s face has the traditional center seam, peachy cheeks, a happy red mouth, and very detailed ears.  She has very short mohair hair and a tiny (4 mm) Steiff button in her left ear, pictured here on the left.  She sports a cheerful orange flannel dress; a thin cotton slip; a red, white, blue, black, and green apron; and a cream, pink, magenta, and green ribbon trimmed bonnet.

22 cm Steiff felt “child-like” dolls are a really unusual size and very few variations were made; the more typical size for this product line was 28 cm. The smallest felt dolls Steiff made pre-war were 20 cm, but these were character dolls and even rarer than the 22 cm dolls under discussion here.  From 1917 through 1919, Steiff made three models of 22 cm boys and ten models of 22 cm girls.  They were differentiated by their clothing and footwear styles.  Each of these dolls had charming, well constructed matching clothing made from high end materials, including felt, velvet, calicos, wool, and embroidered muslin.  Most of the 22 cm dolls all had hats, which exactly matched the fabric or theme of their outfits.  They were also detailed with stockings and hand-made felt or leather shoes.

This felt girl is a lovely doll but it is very hard to tell which exact catalog model doll she represents. Steiffgal is certain that she is not wearing “officially made” Steiff clothes.  Her outfit is extremely well constructed but it is a bit more “peasant looking” and not nearly as color and pattern coordinated enough as the those that appeared on these dolls as they left the factory over 90 years ago.  This outfit was most likely made for this doll by a talented seamstress using leftover fabrics and materials from another home sewing project.

Besides her great looks and charming personality, one of the things that makes this doll so special is that she has a documented provenance. She comes from the estate Wildred and Oma Mangold, who died 2008 at the age of 90+.  The Mangolds lived in Armstrong, Iowa. Oma was a school teacher.  She married Wildred in 1941 and together they ran the local grocery store in Armstrong for many years. The Mangolds did not have children but were instrumental in establishing the local library where Oma served as president of the board. Wilfred collected clocks and Oma collected dolls. Oma’s collection included many foreign “souvenir” type dolls but also a Lenci, Kathe Kruse, this charming Steiff doll, and other china and bisque dolls.  Steiffgal has decided to name her Oma (which means “Granny” in German) in honor of her original owner.  Coincidentally, Steiffgal also had a Grandmother named Oma.

Readers, as always, you are all dolls for reading this post to the end. Steiffgal hopes that you have found Oma’s story and history as charming as she is.

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