A Ray of Steiff Sunshine in the Pandemic

I haven’t posted since Easter for several reasons. First, all of my favorite shows which I chronicle on here were cancelled! I was sad at first. One after another of the highlights of the season were denied. We were forced to leave the office and work from home. As someone who does social media for a community bank, we were BUSY! Our CEO was interviewed by the news media. Our bankers were busy round the clock handling the Payroll Protection Plan loans. Our customers needed reassuring and we needed to adapt to our lobbies being closed to the public for a couple of months. My social media content calendar was full and subject to sudden changes consistent with the times.  I didn’t have much chance to think about bears or Santas or making things.

My garden became my focus away from my computer. I did, however, manage to find a little mascot to add to my collection.

Steiff mini bear on a chairMiniature Steiff Bear

This is a Steiff miniature with the best face! He was probably 1950s vintage and retains his button in the ear. I have a lot of these little fellows, but this guy’s face won my heart and he has kept me company by my computer while I have been working from home. You can still see the thread where his chest tag was attached. I would say he has pretty much all of his fur, so maybe wasn’t a child’s pocket companion! My friend Marijke sent me a package of goodies with this little chair included., so he sits here like someone’s toy waiting for the owner to come home and hug him.

If you position him carefully, he can stand by himself.

A lot of times, these little fellows have lost their fur, had their noses kissed off, had their buttons removed by protective parents, or have been squished into an odd pose from being stored away in a box or drawer. While this gives them a lot of charm, this guy is perfect. He was a lucky find and brought me a lot of joy in a dark time.

He won’t be relegated to a group display any time soon!

A Steiff Puppet Surprise

My husband often has trouble with birthday or Christmas gifts for me – or for anyone, really unless we are talking about our son who shares many of his interests. I should have realized this early on when his mother would show me strange and confounding gifts she had received from him.

That’s not to say he never gives me gifts. He often comes in with a treasure he has found for me at some estate or tag sale. Sometimes it’s wonderful, sometimes hideous. You would think after 40 years, he would understand what I like, wouldn’t you?

Some years, he really does well.

Steiff Foxy
This year he scored a home run! He spotted this Steiff Foxy dog puppet at a local antique mall, recognized that it was in perfect condition and a good price and he waited until my birthday to give it to me!

I love him!  I have a few Steiff puppets – bunny, cat and bear – that are in acceptable played-with condition and without their IDs. I really wanted a Foxy to go with them. He has his chest tag, button and ear tag, so he is the king of my Steiff puppets. He looks so cute peeking out of my bag like a real puppy!

When Were Steiff Puppets Made?

Steiff made hand puppets from the late 1800s through the 1960s. I figure most of the ones in my collection are about the same vintage as me – “mid-century modern”. In the late 1800s, puppet shows or “Punch and Judy” shows were popular across Europe and no doubt inspired Steiff to take advantage of the trend. In fact, according to industry expert Steiff Gal, Rebekah Kaufman, early hand puppets were labelled “Punch” in the catalogs of the day.  Refer to Rebekah’s blog post for more information.

How Do  You Display Steiff Puppets?

I have some tricks to displaying my Steiff puppets. All they really need is something to support them. I often use clean glass bottles inside them. They are usually heavy enough to keep them standing nicely as long as they are tall enough. A wine, water, or soda bottle with a slender neck that will fit up into the finger space in the puppet’s neck will do the trick. You can even fill the bottle with some sand or gravel in the bottom for added stability.

I also like to use antique industrial spools that I collect and use for my make-do Santas. I look for one that has one end that is wide to provide stability at the base and the other end should be no bigger than the shoulders of the puppet so it fills that space nicely, but doesn’t let the neck flop. You can fill out the shoulders with a little polyester fiberfil to help stabilize the head.