When someone says “Daddy Long Legs”, what immediately comes to mind? Perhaps an insect, or a novel, or a film, or even an animated Japanese TV series, depending where you are from. But what about a wonderful vintage Steiff Teddy? Take a long look at this absolutely amazing, gigantic pre-WW ll bear. Steiffgal is certain you will agree… this one terrific, and terrifically tall, Ted!
This bear belongs to Alexander, who is from Vienna, Austria. Alex posted pictures of his Teddy on the Steiff Facebook page. Seeing him there, Steiffgal contacted him for more information about the bruin, in order to share this remarkable find with the Steiff collecting world. Thankfully, Alex was happy to share him and his story. He writes:
Please find the requested pictures attached. I found the bear on the Vienna flea market and paid 1,000 euro for him. He has the button with the underlined “f” and a remainder of a yellow tag. He is 24 inches tall when seated, and 36 inches when standing. His eye color is brown and the fur is plush.
What an amazing find! Steiffgal can only imagine how excited Alex was to come across such an unusual sized Steiff bear in such great condition. She would have needed oxygen and a stretcher over this for sure!
Let’s take a look at Alex’s bear and talk a bit about him and his history.
First his dating. Teddy’s trailing “f” button and early yellow eartag combination date him approximately between 1934 and 1942. When Teddy was new, it is Steiffgal’s best guess that he measured in at 115 cm, the largest pre-war, five ways jointed size that Steiff made commercially. (Old Teds, like older men and women, tend to “compress” a little over time.) Steiff made these 115 cm bears in blond and also in white from around 1905 through 1933. Steiff also made the 115 cm size in brown, but only from 1906 through 1917.
If we overlay his button and ear tag identification dating, and manufacturing time line, it would appear that Alex’s Teddy was probably made approximately in the 1933/1934 time frame.
Now his design and history. Alex’s Teddy is the largest size of a very popular Steiff model produced from 1905 through 1933 in white, blond, and brown. Although the pattern evolved over time, the bears produced under this beloved, classic design were all mohair, five ways jointed with cardboard disks, had distinctive “spoon” shaped paws, and carefully hand embroidered noses and mouths. Later versions, like Alex’s, had higher-placed ears and glass pupil eyes. This pattern was produced in 10, 15, 18, 22, 25, 30, 32, 35, 40, 46, 50, 60, 70, and 115 cm.
The largest size, 115 cm – although a regular line item – was most likely produced as a special order display piece. Because of his impressive proportions, the 115 cm size was often photographed for advertising and commercial purposes; the photo on the left shows tall Teddy in the Steiff warehouse in New York in the early 1900’s. (This picture is from the wonderful Button In Ear The History of The Teddy Bear and His Friends by Jurgen and Marianne Cieslik.)
Alex’s Teddy is a rare – and valuable – bear indeed! These champion-sized cubs seldom come on the market. After a bit of research Steiffgal could only find two instances of a 115 cm Steiff Teddy at auction; both were sold at the world famous Christie’s auction house in London. The most recent, a blond 115 cm Teddy in very good condition from 1906, sold for $35,622 (a little over 25,000 euro) in 2006. Even though Alex’s bear is a little “younger” – based on this official hammer price – it is safe to say he got the bargain of a lifetime for 1,000 euro!
Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed this long look at Alex’s bear and what makes him so special.
Have a question about one of your special Steiff items, or just want to share it with Steiff collectors via this community site? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.