Assuring Success with Steiff’s Good Luck Charms

Good luck! Viel glueck! Buena suerte! Bonne chance! Whatever language you say it in, the heartfelt sentiment runs true. The exciting news that WorthPoint launched a new sister website in the United Kingdom and antique- and vintage-collectibles-loving enthusiasts across the pond now have the same access to information and fun we have here in the United States when it comes to learning about our finds and collections.

Although it hardly needs it, I thought it would be fun to investigate some global animals that are known as symbols of good luck—those traditionally associated with success, health, wealth and happiness—as a way to help our new friends and colleagues the most auspicious way possible as they are now open for business. And who does animals better than anyone else? Steiff, of course! Let’s take a look at some of the world’s favorite good luck charms as interpreted by Steiff.

Pigs

Steiff's 10-centimeter Jolanthe Schewin or Jolanthe Pig.

Although pigs are considered lucky in Chinese and Irish traditions, they really “bring home the bacon” (literally) in Germany. There is a popular German expression, “Ich Habe Schwein Gehabt,” which roughly translates to “I have had pig,” that people say after personally experiencing something lucky or fortunate. This Germanic tradition dates back many centuries of hard times and refers to having enough food to feed your family. If a family had a pig, they were able to eat for a week or more!

Speaking of good luck, take a look at this “double dose” of auspicious fortune. Here we have Steiff’s 10-centimeter Jolanthe Schewin or Jolanthe Pig. This exact pattern was only produced in this size and only in 1978. Jolanthe is standing on all fours and not jointed. His body is made from pink trivera velvet; his matching ears are velvet-like on the outside and smooth and leathery on the inside. He has fabulous blue and black-pupil eyes, a little rope tail and has airbrushed details on his snout, mouth and feet. And to make sure only good things happen when he’s around, Jolanthe is detailed with a green-felt four-leaf clover held in his mouth, designating him as a permanent good luck charm!

Frogs

Steiff's Froggy Frog. He measures 20 cm.

Everyone wants to be the “rainmaker,” that person that gets things done and makes opportunities happens. In many ancient cultures, especially those dependent on agriculture for survival, frogs were the original “rainmakers,” as their presence indicated that there would be enough rain for successful farming. And in China, traditional jacket fasteners are called “frogs,” in part because the frog represents good luck and fortune in Chinese culture. By having them as part of your everyday clothing, you only increase your chances of success in business and home life.

Many Steiff collectors consider it very good fortune to welcome this fantastic, larger-than-life frog into their collections. Here we have Steiff’s Froggy Frog. He is 20 cm, standing on all fours, and made from tan mohair that has been gloriously hand-airbrushed in every shade of green, brown and tan, and even sports a tiny touch of purple! He has very, very large brown and black-pupil eyes that are framed by heavy eyelids and very realistic webbed-style hands and feet. Froggy was produced in 20 and 28 cm from 1959 through 1973.

Elephants

Steiff's Elephant is jumbo in spirit yet tiny in size, standing just 10 cm tall.

Elephants are a big deal—a very big deal—in India, where they are a national symbol of good luck, fortune and wealth. This may have its origins in part in the Hindu religion, with the elephant-headed god Ganesha. This widely worshiped deity is known as the “Remover of Obstacles” and the “Lord of Beginnings,” among many other positive associations. Superstition suggests the luckiest elephants are the ones with upright trunks.

Elephants are also considered lucky for Steiff, as the very first animal the company designed, produced and sold in the late 1800s was a little felt elephant. Here we have a distant cousin of that original pachyderm, who is both jumbo in spirit yet tiny in size. Elephant is standing, 10 cm, unjointed and made from lovely grey mohair. He has grey felt ears, little, white wooden tusks, black-and-white google eyes, a grey cord tail and a red felt blanket. His paw pads are grey felt with tiny nails airbrushed on them for detail. This classic style of Steiff elephant was manufactured in 7, 10, 17, 22 and 35 cm from 1950 through 1978. This particular elephant, given his article number of 631,000 was made in the 1959 through 1967 timeframe.

Bears

This post-Second World War Original Teddy is five-ways jointed and made from caramel-colored mohair.

Finally, no discussion of Steiff would be complete without mentioning bears, and it just so happens that the bear is a symbol of good luck in several cultures with long and harsh, extreme, dark winters. Bears were considered auspicious creatures by some northern Native American tribes, ancient Siberian clans and the original peoples of Alaska because one bear could feed an entire village. In addition, bears were thought to have god-like powers because of their ability to survive long, cold brutal winters and give birth during times of extreme food and light shortages.

Finding a classic Steiff Teddy bear on an antiquing adventure is for many the ultimate sign of good luck! A perfect candidate to fit that bill is this early post-Second World War Original Teddy. Teddy is five-ways jointed and made from caramel-colored mohair. He measures 28 cm standing and 22 cm sitting. His paws are made from peach-colored felt and are original and in perfect condition. His face is detailed with brown and black-pupil eyes and a brown hand-embroidered nose and mouth. He has a rather serious and pensive look about him; perhaps he is thinking about all the new friends he will meet when he moves to your hug. This wonderful design was produced in caramel from 1950 through 1966 in 10, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 28, 35, 40, 43, 50, 65, 75 and 100 cm. He was also produced in blond, brown and white in many sizes during the same time frame.

You can never have enough success and happiness in your life, and these sweet Steiff treasures just might be the good luck charms you seek. The good news associated with them is that they are not terribly expensive and you don’t need the luck of a winning lottery ticket to welcome a few into your home—and heart.

Assuming very good to excellent condition, with at least one form of Steiff ID, the items identified, discussed and pictured above value as follows:

• Jolanthe Pig can value in the $75 to $125 range;
• Froggy Frog can value in the $125 to $225 range;
• Elephant can value in the $50 to $150 range;
• Original Teddy can value in the $250 to $350 range.

Rebekah Kaufman is a Worthologist who specializes in vintage Steiff and other European plush collectibles.

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