Celebrating Halloween with Steiff’s Creatures of the Night
Whoooo’s your favorite Steiff evening watchman? Uhu Wittie, or Wittie Owl, was produced from 1954 through 1977 in four sizes: 10, 14, 22 and 35 centimeters.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… if you like ghosts and goblins and candy, for sure!
The word “Halloween” literally means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening,” and is derived from a Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve, which is the evening before All Hallows’ Day. The origins for Halloween, as we know it, started many centuries ago in Celtic-speaking countries, as well as in early Christian tradition. However, it wasn’t until the first decade of the 20th century that the holiday was embraced and celebrated across the United States by people of all backgrounds. Today the holiday is a big deal—a very big deal. According to a recent poll by the National Retail Federation, 158 million people celebrate the annual event in one form or another, with 72 percent planning to hand out candy, almost 48 percent decorating their home and yard, and 44 percent carving a pumpkin.
It’s also easy to get into the Halloween spirit with Steiff’s wonderful critters, many that seem to be created just for this spooky time of year. Let’s take a look at some of the company’s more ominous vintage beasts and see why they are both tricks and treats of this haunted holiday.
Whoooo’s your favorite Steiff evening watchman? Most night owls and others agree it is the company’s beloved Uhu Wittie, or Wittie Owl. Wittie was produced from 1954 through 1977 in four sizes: 10, 14, 22 and 35 centimeters.
Wittie is head jointed; his body and wings are mohair and his feathers are designed from carefully cut and detailed felt. Standard line Wittie owls have marvelous airbrushed detailing on their bodies, green pupil eyes and charming tufts of black hair on their forehead. Depending on their size and year of production, their faces are detailed with a tan felt or rubber beak. All Witties have enormously large feet, as is typical in most Steiff bird designs.
Today, standard line Steiff Wittie owls in very good to excellent condition with all IDs can value in the $100-$250 range.
Despite Eric Fledermaus’—or Eric the Bat’s—diminutive size—his body composition is among the most varied and intricate of any Steiff creation, ever!
Eric the Bat
It’s easy to go batty over this next Steiff Halloween favorite. Here we have Eric Fledermaus, or Eric the Bat. Despite his diminutive size—he was produced in 10 and 17 centimeters—Eric’s body composition is among the most varied and intricate of any Steiff creation, ever!
His tiny, mouse-like body is constructed from gray-brown mohair. His thin wings are made from plastic-like sheeting. His arms and legs are gray pipe cleaners, while his ears are felt. Needless to say, Eric was very labor-intensive to manufacturer, which may explain why he only appeared in the catalog from 1960 through 1962. That, in conjunction with his relative fragility, is one of the reasons that an Eric in good condition is considered such a treasure for most vintage Steiff collectors. Due to Eric’s popularity and scarcity, Steiff created a 4,000-piece limited edition Eric replica set in 1990, consisting of a large and small size bat. This remains one of the most popular Steiff limited editions, even to this day.
Today, Steiff’s Eric the Bats in very good to excellent condition with all IDs can value in the $250-$400 range. The replica sets can value in the $125-$250 range.
Steiff’s black Tom or Scary Cat is one of the most beloved designs of all times, debuting in 1904 and ever since, a black cat has appeared almost continuously in the catalog.
Tom or Scary Cat
Superstitions aside, Steiff’s black Tom or Scary Cat are one of the most beloved designs of all times. This pattern debuted in 1904 and was actually featured in a photograph from the 1903-04 Steiff catalog… the same photograph that debuted the fully jointed Teddy bear as we know him today! A black cat has appeared almost continuously in the line since then.
The pattern has evolved over time, but a few features have not changed: the cat’s arched back, wide-open eyes and prominent, expressive tail. The models most collectors are familiar with are probably those which were produced from 1950 through 1976 in 8, 10, 14, 17 and 22 centimeters. These post-war models were all but identical to those produced prewar. The 8- and 10-cm “kittens” are made from black velvet while the larger “cats” are made from black mohair. All sizes are standing with arched backs and tails reaching to the sky. Their faces are detailed with pink or red stitched noses, clear monofilament whiskers and intense green and black-pupil eyes.
Today, Steiff’s post-war black Tom Cats in very good to excellent condition with all IDs can value in the $125-$350 range.
Steiff’s Hucky ravens, both scary and silly at the same time, would have been a favorite of Edgar Allen Poe’s. They were manufactured in 12 and 17 centimeters from 1952 through 1976.
Many collectors can’t help but rant and raven—I mean rave—about Steiff’s big black birds. Steiff’s Hucky ravens are both scary and silly at the same time. This Edgar Allen Poe favorite was manufactured in 12 and 17 centimeters from 1952 through 1976. Hucky ravens are head-jointed and made of lovely jet-black mohair. They sport an oversized red felt beak and black eyes, which are backed in red felt. Their wings and tail feathers are made from black felt and their feet are red-enameled metal. The top of their heads are detailed with many strands of clear monofilament thread.
Hucky raven was also produced as a tiny woolen miniature model from 1949 through 1984 in 8 centimeters. This petite pattern is standing, head jointed, and made from black woolen yarn. He has a red felt beak, black felt tail feathers, and adorable black and white google eyes. And like his big siblings, his feet are made from metal that has been painted red.
Today, Steiff’s black mohair Hucky Ravens in very good to excellent condition with all IDs can value in the $100-$200 range, while the woolen miniature versions in very good to excellent condition with all IDs can value in the $25-$50 range.
Loopy Wolf only appeared in the line in 1964 and was made in 25- and 30-centimeter versions, but was also brought back as a popular 17-cm hand puppet from 1956 through 1978.
Halloween would not be complete of course without a werewolf or two and, although Steiff has not made this hairy and fanged creature—at least yet—the company can howl about a very collectible wolf pattern in its archives of collector’s favorites. Steiff’s Loopy Wolf only appeared in the line in 1964 and was made in 25- and 30-centimeter versions. Loopy is standing, unjointed and made from lovely long grey mohair. His muzzle is made from shorter mohair. The larger Loopy has an open, peach-colored felt lined mouth with white plastic fangs, while the smaller one has a closed mouth. Both sizes have brown and black-pupil eyes and a black, hand-embroidered black nose. Loopy was also produced as a popular 17-cm hand puppet from 1956 through 1978.
Today, Steiff’s Loopy Wolves in very good to excellent condition with all IDs can value in the $250-$600 range, while the Loopy Wolf puppets in very good to excellent condition with all IDs can value in the $100-$150 range.
Steiff’s King Kong was paired with a Fay Wray doll from Madame Alexander and marketed as a limited edition set for the upscale toy store FAO Schwarz in 1998 and 1999.
It’s time to end this review of Steiff’s Halloween-themed collectibles with a real monster! Here we have Steiff’s King Kong—yes, the big baddy from the silver screen! King Kong is 42 centimeters and made from jet-black long mohair. His feet, hands, chest patch and facial mask are made from shorter black mohair. He has teeny, tiny black ears. His face is detailed with large brown and black-pupil eyes and a mohair nose. His spectacular mouth is wide open and features large white plastic teeth and a red velvet tongue.
King Kong was originally intended to be a limited edition of 1,500 in 1999. He was also paired with a Fay Wray doll from Madame Alexander and marketed as a limited edition set for the upscale toy store FAO Schwarz in 1998 and 1999. Although 500 King Kong/Fay Wray sets were planned, there were some licensing issues so far fewer were actually made available for purchase.
Today, Steiff’s King Kong in very good to excellent condition with all IDs can value in the $250-$400 range, while the King Kong and Fay Wray sets in very good to excellent condition with all IDs can value in the $350-$550 range.
Rebekah Kaufman is a Worthologist who specializes in vintage Steiff and other European plush collectibles.
WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth