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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.

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