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Home > News, Articles & Multimedia > Blog Entry > It’s all Good News when it Comes to Steiff’s Storks; Especially the Life-Sized Ones

It’s all Good News when it Comes to Steiff’s Storks; Especially the Life-Sized Ones

by Rebekah Kaufman (04/11/12).

Steiff’s storch or stork is 50 centimeters tall, unjointed, standing and made from short, white-woven fur and long, white-tufted plush. He has very subtle light blue airbrushing on his forehead his face is detailed with brown and black pupil eyes and a red trivera velvet beak. This particular stork was manufactured from 1980 through 1984.

Every enthusiast has extra-special items in their collections—a certain piece that just take a Gold Medal for its rarity, design or simply the story behind the piece. Here is one of those treasures from my hug of more than 700 vintage Steiff collectibles.

The item:
This Steiff “studio” (or life-sized) stork would be a most welcome new addition to just about any collection of vintage Steiff!

What we have here Steiff’s storch or stork. This traditional bundle-of-joy-bearer is 50 centimeters tall, unjointed, standing and made from short, white-woven fur and long, white-tufted plush. He has very subtle light blue airbrushing on his forehead and wings and sports black trivera velvet feathers on the tips of his white wings. He has delightful, posable red trivera velvet legs with prominent, distinct knees. His face is detailed with brown and black pupil eyes and a red trivera velvet beak. This particular stork was manufactured from 1980 through 1984.

His history and design legacy:
Legends and traditions about storks appear throughout German history and literature, so it is no surprise that these bold birds were represented in Steiff’s debut catalog of 1892. For example, in Germany, there was the belief that if a stork built its nest on a house . . . that dwelling would be protected against a fire. In addition, the presence of a stork tenant would insure good luck to all the people who lived in that home. Another tradition suggested that storks found babies in caves or marshes and brought them to households in a basket on their backs or held in their beaks. The babies would be delivered to new mothers directly, or dropped down the chimney! Tradition suggests that couples that wanted children would put treats on their windowsills to attract storks.

Like most of Steiff’s earliest items, turn-of-the-20th-century storks were made from felt. The first Steiff storks were produced in 14-, 22-, 28-, 43-, 60-, 80- and a whopping 100-cm from 1892 through 1918. Although the materials and manufacturing methods clearly are worlds apart, Steiff storks haven’t changed all that much in their overall appearance over the years. Interestingly, these earliest storks had metal legs that were wrapped tightly in waxed orange cord, a common design treatment for all Steiff birds through the 1920s or so. Early Steiff stork novelties included a stork ink wipe, produced from 1892 through 1894, and a stork hanging pram toy, produced in 1916. In 1925, Steiff updated its traditional stork pattern by changing the body shape slightly, wrapping the legs in felt instead of cord, and producing the birds with an open mouth. This model was produced in 43, 60 and 100 cm through 1939.

This particular stork is a “studio” or life-sized stuffed animal.

The 1980s version of the stork had felt-wrapped legs.

As always, at least one form of Steiff identification increases value.

Following the Second World War, Steiff began producing storks again in the early 1950s. The pattern was again updated and simplified, with less handwork and details on the feathered wings. He was finally given a name—Adebar—which roughly translates to “stork” in German. He was made in 17, 35 and 60 cm from 1953 through 1969. In 1991, he was produced in trivera velvet with plastic legs in 18-cm through 1993. Most recently, Steiff produced a little felt standing stork holding what appears to be a little “bundle of joy,” clearly touching back to the universal reputation and legacy of this bird throughout the world.

Why she’s so special to me:
I’m not terribly superstitious, but I have always felt protected since this big bird entered my life!

A few years ago, my husband and I were considering adopting a new puppy. We had been talking about it for a very long time, and I suspect our friends and neighbors felt it was time to pull the trigger—or be quiet! Finally, we made the move and committed to bringing a little black pug into our family. We identified a quality breeder and got on her short list for one of her pups. About three months later, we got the call we were waiting for—our little girl had arrived and was healthy and adoptable!

Fast-forward a very slow, two-month waiting period, we were finally able to bring our new love home. The morning that I was to go pick her up and bring her to her forever home, I found this Steiff stork on my desk at work. It was from a dear and beloved colleague. The attached note read, “Finally, the stork has arrived at the Kaufman house. Love and best of luck!” I was tickled beyond belief—not only that day did I fulfill a longstanding wish to adopt a pug, but was celebrated in my decision to do so with a magnificent Steiff gift.

His value:
This particular item is somewhat unusual and was not produced for a long period of time, which does add to her value and appeal. The fact that is called a “studio” animal in standard reference books gives it a bit more cache than standard line items. And, unlike other “studio” animals that take up a tremendous amount of room, this one primarily occupies vertical space. I have not actually seen another one available on the secondary market, so it is somewhat difficult to firmly establish pricing without comparative benchmarks. As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it, and Steiff rarities will always generate interest and will without a doubt appreciate over time. It is my best guestimate that this Steiff studio stork in the United States today, in very good to excellent condition with at least one form of ID, values in the $250 to $500 range.

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

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