FAO Schwarz Unveils “Gallery of Classic Steiff Collectibles”

Classic Steiff Bears and Animals

Classic Steiff Bears and Animals

Visitors Can View Both Vintage Classic Steiff Animals and Pop Culture Characters, as well as New Items Destined to Become Keepsakes; Serious Collectors Can Purchase Historic Bears

Descendants of FAO Schwarz and Steiff Founders To Meet Collectors as Official Steiff Appraiser Values Customer Keepsakes at Celebratory Event

July 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/

Since 1862, FAO Schwarz has been known for its legacy of importing the finest quality playthings from around the world for kids of all ages. Now celebrating its 150th Anniversary, the legendary toy emporium has unveiled a walk-around gallery dedicated to Steiff, one of the most renowned European brands, whose signature products have been offered at FAO Schwarz for more than 100 years. “A Gallery of Classic Steiff Collectibles,” is displayed prominently throughout the famed flagship location in New York City. The museum quality exhibit will run through early September and can be viewed online at FAO.com. Items from the show will be also featured on the company’s timeline at Facebook.com/FAO.

Celebrating A Shared Legacy: FAO Schwarz and Steiff
For generations of children, the Steiff boutique at FAO Schwarz has been a must-see destination when visiting the store. Now, FAO Schwarz is honoring the shared history and longevity of both brands with 25 display cases filled with vintage Steiff products. Starting with an 1898 Duck, visitors will see unique versions of Teddy Bears, horses and even Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse on display storewide.

“Frederick August Otto Schwarz created his store with a commitment to offering the best toys in the world, and for more than 100 years, the superior plush pieces produced by Steiff have been a cherished fixture at FAO Schwarz,” said Lisa Harnisch, Senior Vice President, General Merchandising Manager, Toys”R”Us, U.S. “FAO Schwarz and Steiff have a shared legacy of offering high-quality playthings, and we know kids, collectors and visitors to our store will marvel at the history of the Steiff pieces currently on display.”

“The Steiff name has become identified worldwide with all that is quality regarding the design and craftsmanship of plush animals,” said Jim Pitocco, President, Steiff North America. “The company motto, ‘Only the best is good enough for our children,’ assures that our signature items are among the most sought after by the discerning customers visiting FAO Schwarz. We are both privileged and proud that FAO has welcomed our gallery of vintage Steiff pieces to complement our dedicated boutique in their flagship store.”

Since Steiff was founded in 1880 by Margarete Steiff, children and adults have been delighted by the incredible details found in each Steiff plush product. From early pieces to the introduction of the first Teddy Bear in 1902, followed by nearly life-sized animals and stuffed versions of pop culture icons, Steiff products are as well known for being handcrafted as they are for the “button” placed in the ear of every Steiff animal, a feature added in 1904 to prevent counterfeits.

Vintage and Commemorative Steiff Products Available for Sale
A highlight of the exhibit is an exclusive sales opportunity from Steiff that offers two historic and commemorative bears for purchase from the early 1900s. Additionally, collectors can also purchase two products that commemorate the FAO Schwarz 150th Anniversary. Those interested in purchasing these items can inquire through the FAO Schwarz Personal Shopping Department at 212-644-9400.

  • PB 28 Rod Teddy Bear – one of only five known to exist in the word – features the early, “elephant” style Steiff button of the period. This item, along with an original chest tag and an x-ray showing its inner-workings is available at the close of the gallery for $32,000.
  • Center Seam Teddy Bear – has a distinctively shaped head that was created when two rolls of fabric were joined to sew every seventh bear. Packaged with a miniature portrait of the bear, interested collectors can purchase this item for $18,000.
  • FAO 150th Anniversary 30-Piece Edition Bear – a 24 inch commemorative bear honoring the 150th Anniversary of FAO Schwarz may be purchased for $750.
  • FAO 150th Anniversary Limited Edition Bear – a 12 inch commemorative bear comes with a drum featuring the FAO Schwarz logo and may be purchased for $250. Limited to 1,500 pieces.

Steiff Signing and Appraisal Event on August 23
In honor of “A Gallery of Classic Steiff Collectibles,” FAO Schwarz will host a special event with the descendants of Frederick August Otto Schwarz and Margarete Steiff, founders of their respective companies. On Thursday, August 23 at 4 pm, Caroline Schwarz-Schastny, the great-great granddaughter of F.A.O. Schwarz, and Claire Steiff Meisel, the granddaughter of Margarete Steiff’s nephew Richard, the inventor of the Teddy Bear, will visit the Steiff boutique at FAO Schwarz to meet with fans and sign product purchases.

Additionally, those interested in learning about the value of their own Steiff memorabilia can stop by the event to receive complimentary appraisals from Rebekah Kaufman, Consultant Archivist, Steiff North America.

Items displayed in “A Gallery of Classic Steiff Collectibles” at FAO Schwarz include:

Duck (1898)
This early, unjointed “Ente,” or duck, on metal wheels does not have the signature Steiff button, which debuted in 1904. “Ente” has a grey felt body and wings made from red, orange, yellow, green, black and white felt “feathers.” His feet and beak are orange felt, and his head is made from olive-colored velvet detailed with black shoe button eyes and a tan pom-pom. This pattern appeared in the line in four sizes from 1897 through 1924.

Cat (1902)
Steiff’s early white velvet, unjointed “Katze” is sitting patiently and was hand-painted with brown and tan stripes. Available in several colors from 1899 to 1927, her face features green glass pupil eyes, as well as a simple nose and mouth.

PB 28 Rod Bear (1904)
This rare item is one of only five in existence. PB 28 was only manufactured between 1904 and 1905 and proudly sports the highly coveted “elephant” style Steiff button of the period. This early bear design is jointed by three metal rods: a horizontal one for the legs, a horizontal one for the arms, and a vertical one for the head. Its distinctive design details include oversized shoe button eyes, simple embroidered mouths, and unique, hand-formed black “gutta percha” noses. (Available for purchase directly from Steiff via the store’s Personal Shopping Department at 212-644-9400).

Horse (1904)
“Pferd,” is designed to appear life-like. His body is made from brown mohair, with white mohair forefeet and forehead, and a black mohair tail and mane. Horse has brown felt ears, black shoe button eyes, and is detailed with a realistic brown leather halter and reins. This five-way jointed piece galloped into the marketplace from 1907 through 1916.

Pig with Dress Coat (1904)
“Schwein,” or pig, is made from white lamb’s wool with white felt ears, pink felt nose and small, black shoe button eyes. Dressed in a red felt topcoat and coordinating slippers, this smartly dressed pig was produced from 1904 to 1918.

Peter Rabbit Original Book from Beatrix Potter (1905)
Steiff created various “Peter Rabbit” dolls from 1904 through 1919 in celebration of Beatrix Potter’s 1902 book. This unjointed Peter from 1905 is made from velvet and posed in a humble, seemingly begging pose with the rabbit’s signature felt topcoat and slippers.

Barle (1905)
Steiff’s earliest five-way disc-jointed mohair bear’s legendary pattern was introduced in 1905 and appeared in the line through 1933. Originally known as “Barle,” he was later renamed, “Teddy Bear” from 1906 onward. He has black shoe button eyes and a distinctive back hump.

“Center Seam” Teddy Bear (1907)
In the early 1900s, every seventh Steiff bear had a seam down the center of its face to ensure mohair fabric wasn’t wasted. Due to rarity and distinctive head shape, these bears are among the most desirable Steiff collectibles. Made from thick blonde mohair, and five-way jointed, this bear is detailed with wooden shoe button eyes, a black hand-embroidered nose and mouth, four claws on each of his felt-lined paw pads and a long “trailing f” style Steiff button-in-ear.
(Available for purchase directly from Steiff via the store’s Personal Shopping Department at 212-644-9400).

Hot Water Bottle Teddy Bear (1908)
Produced in response to cold German winters, this bear features a hollow belly and contains a metal canister designed to hold hot water. Only 90 examples of this unique bear were produced from 1908 through 1914, and a similar hot water bottle bear sold for almost $30,000 at a recent Christie’s auction in London.

Somersault Teddy Bear (1909)
Better known as “Purzelbaer” to collectors, this sitting bear, originally produced from 1909 to 1916, is jointed with an internal clockwork mechanism that allows it to magically tumble head over heels when the arms are wound up. This pattern was produced in light brown, dark brown and white in 1909 through 1916. By popular demand, it was produced again from 1934 through 1939 using blonde mohair and in larger sizes.

Cat Lady (1911)
“Katzen-Dame,” or Cat Lady, has a head made from mohair and is detailed with tan airbrushed stripes, green and black slit pupil eyes, and a pink hand-embroidered nose and mouth. Cat Lady’s tail is also made of mohair, but her body and arms are made of grey felt and adorned by a cotton dress with coordinating apron and shawl. She can communicate through a “meow” squeaker in her belly.

Teddy Bear (1911)
This traditional bear features classic early Steiff proportions, including long arms with prominent spoon-shaped paws, a big back hump, very long and narrow feet, and a torso twice the length of his head. Teddy Bear is five-way jointed, made from darker blonde mohair and is detailed with black shoe button eyes, as well as a black hand-embroidered nose and mouth.

Rabbit Doll From Display (early 1920s)
Originally part of an in-store display, this rabbit, dressed in a purple felt smoking jacket with matching slippers, likely inspired Steiff’s “Jack Rabbit,” based on the 1922 children’s book, Little Jack Rabbit and Uncle John Hare by David Cory. Rabbit is made from brown tipped mohair with a white mohair nose and forehead. Additionally, his ears are lined in tan mohair and he has a simple hand-embroidered pink nose and large brown and black glass pupil eyes.

Airplane (1920s)
Richard Steiff was passionate about airplanes, creating several patterns for soft toy planes, although none were sold commercially. This prototype is made from a grey floral material and features a propeller and large top-wing with bells.

Teddy Bear White (1921)
Capturing the charm and glory of the Roaring ’20s, this bear expresses the awe and wonder of the era. Featuring white mohair, as well as brown and black pupil eyes, its familiar brown facial and claw stitching is typical of early white Steiff bears.

Galop – Google (1926)
Galop – Google was inspired by the then contemporary cartoon characters, Barney Google and his horse Spark Plug. Barney is made primarily from felt, while Spark Plug sports dark grey mohair. Barney holds what appears to be a large mohair turkey leg in his hand, while both ride upon a metal carriage with four red wooden wheels. Galop – Google was produced from 1926 through 1928.

Teddy Baby Girl (1930)
Teddy Baby Girl arrived dressed in pink Mary Jane shoes and a pinafore dress, accented with a white lace-trimmed bib or scarf. Made of maize-colored mohair, this bear was produced from 1929 through 1932.

Dicky Teddy Bear (1930)
Introduced in 1930, the five-way jointed Dicky was a less expensive Teddy Bear for challenging economic times. This design is famous for its insert muzzle, its impish, smiling expression and elaborately painted paw pads, which were made from velvet in earlier models and felt in later editions.

Orangu Mimocculo (1930)
Considered technically advanced for its time, this orangutan offered primitive, interactive entertainment. By pulling and turning his right ear, Mimocculo’s life-like glass pupil eyes move up and down and roll about. He is a five-way jointed orangutan featuring a head, body, and limbs made from long, shaggy orange mohair with felt hands, feet, ears and face.

Vintage Vignette (1930s)
Steiff designers and artists regularly created “scenes” with their smallest items, including tiny bears and woolen miniatures. These small figures would be placed on painted cardboard bases or mats, often with an area for handwritten messages included. The scene on display with a well-dressed boy and girl bear, may have been created for a wedding or engagement.

Bulliette (1930)
Intended as a novelty to hang from a rearview mirror, this doll features an exaggerated design based on the “Charleston” dance craze of the time. Bulliette’s long, unjointed blue velvet dangling arms and legs that lead to soft, mohair hands and paws represent the rapid and dramatic limb movements of the popular dance.

Prototype Elephant Red with Neck Mechanism (1931)
This “circus” style elephant with the “tail moves head” neck mechanism was designed by Hugo Steiff for his cousin Klara. Featuring jointed arms and snap-jointed mouth and legs, he sports white felt tusks, playful glass pupil eyes, and foot and hand pads that are stenciled with authentic paw prints.

Mickey Mouse (1931) and Minnie Mouse (1932)
The Mickey design on display is considered the “skinny” version of Mickey Mouse and features simple felt hands, expressive eyes, and velvet shorts and shoes. A similar “tail moves head” Mickey Mouse doll sold for almost $12,000 at a recent Christie’s auction in London. Produced from 1932 through 1936, Steiff’s intricate Minnie Mouse was made primarily from velvet, wearing a bright orange hat and shoes, a calico skirt, and yellow gloves. Her design and production proved more challenging than Mickey’s, resulting in significantly fewer available Minnie Mouse dolls.

FAO 150th Anniversary Limited Edition Bear (2012)
Hand-crafted in Giengen on the Brenz, Germany and limited to 1,500 pieces, this 12-inch bear honors the 150th Anniversary of FAO Schwarz. Hand airbrushing accents the hand-stitched nose, while a tin drum showcases the FAO Schwarz 150th Anniversary logo. (Now available for pre-order through the store’s Personal Shopping Department at 212-644-9400. Available in-store and online at FAO.com in late July).

FAO 150th Anniversary 30-Piece Edition Bear (2012)
This 24-inch bear honoring the 150th Anniversary of FAO Schwarz was hand-crafted in Giengen on the Brenz, Germany and is limited to 30 pieces. Hand airbrushing accents the hand-stitched nose, while a tin drum showcases the FAO Schwarz 150th Anniversary logo. (Now available for pre-order through the store’s Personal Shopping Department at 212-644-9400. Available in-store and online at FAO.com in late July).