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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Marguerite Steiff and Steiff Animals-More of the 19th Century

The 19th C. is truly the golden age of dolls and toys, for sheer variety if nothing else. The story of Marguerite Steiff is so inspirational that everyone should know it. confined to a wheelchair because of polio, she channeled her creative energies towards creating charming toys with the goal of supporting herself. She, along with Morris Michtom, and certain Russian toymakers, are given credit for inventing the Teddy Bear in concjunction with the legend associated with Teddy Roosevelt. Tonight, I was watching Antiques Roadshow from San Diego, and SD is known for having doll collections, museums, and collectors. Eleanor St. George often spoke of famous collections of the 1950s from this area. Marshal Martin was featuring Steiff animals, including a reissue of the famous felt elephant that started it all. He mentioned an original would cost around $2500. I had read no originals of the little elephant existed, but perhaps we only don't have public knowledge that it exists. To paraphrase Carl Fox of The Doll, we don't know what lurks in the private collectors' cabinets around the world. YouTube is givingus an idea, but his point is well taken. Mr. Martin also showed some Steiff cats, with the grey resissue which could have been our dear, late Emma as a kitten, and a smaller original golden version done in velvet. The velvet original is valued at $500, while the grey kitten reissue, about 7 years old, holds its original value of $150 but has not increased. The same was true of the reissue of the elephant, which was reissued for Steiff's 125th anniversary at $150. Experience tells me, as well as trip through eBay, that "deliberate collectibles" and reissues hold their value, or are worth their purchase price, but often, not more. Then again, I note that in our area, antique dolls, while pricey, many "high end," have not increased in value much either. We are not known for our doll auctions in our Midwestern community, though we do have auctions of various types, including some involving dolls. Steiff bears seem to be the pricey tickets, especially vintage ones, but I love the other animals and the dolls as well. I looked for years for a good set of Hedgehogs, and I am very fond of my minis, the bunnies, chicks, mice, teddies, and one 9 in Lobster. I have found Steiff animals for ten cents, minus button, at yard sales, and a lovely Afghan hound for fifty cents. I've seen dog at other sales for $95.00, a fair price though a lot for a garage sale, but the seller removed it before I could ask about it. Bargains are still out there. I also bought a newer Steiff panda, about 12 in, for 5.00, and a letter, framed, by Marguerite Steiff herself for around 25.00 at an estate sale. Teddies and stuffed animals are especially beloved this time of year, and Steiff animals and toys are no exception.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym: Barbara Pym Doll by Debbie Ritter

Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym: Barbara Pym Doll by Debbie Ritter: From our friend Debbie Ritter of Uneek Doll Designs comes this wonderful portrait doll of Barbara Pym. We love her creations, and own seve...

About Dr. E's

See below, written by Annetta Miller, a freelance writer who also wrote for Newsweek wrote a very nice feature about us: When Dr. Ellen Tsagaris was a child in Greece, her mother presented her with a rubber yellow bunny doll that squeaked. “I liked it very much,” she recalled. Two Greek dolls dressed in national costumes followed that present. “By then, I was hooked. I remember saying, ‘I’m going to collect dolls.’” And collect she did. Today, some 50 years later, Ellen is not only the chair of multiple academic departments, but also one of the nation’s foremost collectors of and authorities on antique dolls. “When I was young, I loved portrait painting and I was interested in photography, costumes, and textiles, too,” she said. “I found that doll collecting encompassed all those interests. I’ve always loved having dolls, collecting dolls and reading about dolls.” Wooden dolls, porcelain dolls, dolls made of china and wax, Ellen has them all. And this year, she authored the first definitive book on dolls made from metal. Entitled With Love from Tin Lizzie, A History of Metal Heads, Metal Dolls, Mechanical Dolls, and Automatons, the book addresses the way dolls reflect cultures and civilizations, and how they have given rise to an international “doll economy.” Reviewers have described the book as an “academic text, a photo album, and book of memories all in one.” Ellen’s dolls hail from 50 U.S. states and most of the countries in Europe, Asia and South America. Her family–world travelers–have continued to bring Ellen antique dolls, folk dolls, costume dolls and souvenir dolls from all parts of the globe. One of her favorites is her ‘Vogue Baby Dear,” the type of doll that Communist Party Secretary Nikita Khrushchev took back to his grandchildren in Russia after his iconic “shoe-banging” speech to the United Nations in 1960. She received a Japanese Ningyo doll made of papier mache and covered in white oyster shell enamel when her Uncle Tom visited Japan as a U.S. Serviceman in the Korean War. At Knott’s Berry Farm in California, her father presented her with a strawberry blonde doll designed by celebrated ballet dancer and artist Suzanne Gibson. When she’s not collecting dolls, Ellen is something of an academic renaissance woman. She holds a law degree, a doctorate in Modern British Literature, a Master’s Degree in English, and a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Spanish. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honorary society. A member of the Kaplan family for 15 years, Ellen chairs three academic departments, including Legal Studies/Paralegal Studies, Public Safety, and Humanities/Composition. Her interest in dolls has dovetailed seamlessly with her academic interests. She has researched and written about dolls in literature and about Anne Rice, who was an avid doll collector. Ellen’s next frontier: When she retires, she hopes to establish a non-profit doll museum similar to the one Rice established at the former St. Elizabeth’s orphanage in New Orleans. The museum will tell the story of human history through dolls, dollhouses, and related objects.