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In the Good Old Days Antiques Corner This Week in History
Antiques Corner

A "Wittie" Question

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Question: What can you tell me about the age and provenance of this Steiff owl, which is about 5 inches high? How collectible is it and other non-bear stuffed animals in relation to the bears produced by the same company?

Answer: German seamstress Margarete Steiff got into the toy business by accident, having made a novelty pincushion in the shape of an elephant. From there, she began creating other soft plush animals. She is famous for inventing a small bear with movable head and joints. The success of her teddy bear, which first appeared in a 1903 catalog, made Steiff's company internationally known. Starting in 1905, a trademark metal button was attached to every Steiff toy. Steiff produced owls in the 1950s. Those having a shiny button with the script Steiff logo date to before 1980, after which brass buttons were used. All Steiff toys are collectible. The smaller owl named "Wittie," in excellent condition sells for about $50. This owl, which is missing its paper name tag and cloth label is worth something less.

-- By Tom Hoepf, associate editor of Auction Central News