Origin: German Period: Early 20thC Provenance: Unknown Date: c.1905-09 Height: 30” Width: 12” Depth: 9”
The early and very large golden mohair Steiff bear being straw stuffed with black boot button eyes, black stitched nose and mouth, swivel head and jointed at shoulders and hips with elongated arms, large feet and felt paw-pads and stitched claws with a working weighted growler, and surviving from the first decade of the twentieth century.
In fair overall original condition, the bear has some balding as photographed and the pads have been re-covered we think at some stage with the jewel coloured fabric, though they in themselves are very old indeed. There is an area of damage to the lower left leg as photographed, exposing the straw filling. The internal growler still works, somewhat miraculously, but is less loud than it would have once been. If there was a button to his left ear it is now lacking. The former owner believes the bear was brought back after the Boer war.
Europe’s most celebrated soft toys, the teddy bears with buttons in their ears (‘Knopf im Ohr’) are manufactured in an architecturally revolutionary factory building in this small town 32 km north-east of Ulm. Margarete Steiff (1847-1909), a native of Giengen was partially-paralysed at the age of 18 months, but from a dressmaking studio in her father’s house established a company making felt toys, moving in 1888 to a building designed by her brother. Her nephew Richard Steiff was largely responsible for the company subsequent growth.
For bears this size, the typical nose from 1905 and 1906 is stitched like a bar, with a few stitches in the middle reaching down to join his simple "V" shaped mouth with the deeply set black button wooden eyes also a clear indictor of his age. Bears in this period went up to 115cms/42”, so this example is near the top end in size.
A rare and early Steiff bear, clearly cherished and one that tells a beautiful story.