Size Defies With These Tiny And Extremely Collectible Steiff Miniature Mascots
Although most people associate Steiff button-in-ear collectibles with Teddy bears and animals, the company has also produced a number of very unusual character specialties over time. These usually represent a well-known advertising or entertainment mascot. These are so atypical for Steiff that it is easy to overlook them if you were to come across one for sale at an auction, antique show, or garage sale. Don’t make that mistake! Here are three little known Steiff characters you need to know about… they truly are worth their weight in gold!
This petite treat is Steiff’s version of the cartoon character Barney Google, a very popular character who debuted in the Hearst Newspapers in 1919.
There’s no need to google this first petite treat. Here we have Steiff’s version of the cartoon character Barney Google. Barney is 5 inches, standing, and unjointed. His body is made from linen. His pants are made from checkered cloth, while his hat, scarf, jacket, shirt, vest, belt, and shoes are made from felt. His face comes to life with black button eyes backed in big white felt circles, an upturned nose, a black thread mustache, and gentle pink shading. His tiny Steiff button is located in the tail of his coat. Barney was made in this size from 1925 to 1926 only. Around the same time, Steiff also produced a 7 inch version of Barney’s racehorse friend Sparkplug in mohair and cloth. According to Steiff records, only 615 Barney/Sparkplug sets were sold.
Barney Google was a very popular cartoon character who debuted in the Hearst Newspapers in 1919. He was penned by artist Billy DeBeck. Barney was a silly, bumbling little man who seemed to find even the simplest things complicated. Barney Google was so popular that he inspired the 1923 hit tune “Barney Google (with the Goo-Goo-Googly Eyes),” as well as the 1923 record, “Come On, Spark Plug!”
Barney’s face comes to life with black button eyes backed in big white felt circles, an upturned nose, a black thread mustache, and gentle pink shading.
It’s no laughing matter when it comes to this character’s value. Given his rarity, limited production, and ephemeral construction, Steiff’s Barney Google dolls in good to very good condition with ID may sell in the $1,000-2,000 range today.
Let’s hop on over to our next Steiff mascot rarity. Here below we have grasshopper Kalle Stropp. He 7 inches and head jointed. His head is made from green velvet and is decorated with black nostrils, a smiling mouth, and antennae made from clear plastic rods that are topped with red balls. His eyes are made from tiny black buttons and backed in white material. They are highlighted with painted pink shadows and black eyebrows. Kalle’s body is made from heavy metal wire. His five fingered hands are made from light green felt. He is wearing a white felt collared shirt, striped fabric bow tie, black felt pants, and a light green felt cutaway style topcoat. His jacket is detailed with darker green lapels, white felt cuffs, and red bead buttons. Black felt shoes with red felt soles complete his handsome outfit. Like Barney, his button is also located in the tail of his dramatic coat.
Here we have grasshopper Kalle Stropp. Kalle is a popular Swedish fairy tale character invented by Swedish author Thomas Funck.
Kalle Stropp appeared in the Steiff line for only one year in 1956. Kalle is a popular Swedish fairy tale character invented by Swedish author Thomas Funck. Funck’s stories about Kalle were broadcast on the radio, produced as movies, and appeared in print in cartoons and books starting in 1954. Kalle’s sidekick was a frog named Grodan Boll; Grodan was also produced by Steiff as a puppet and a figure. Kalle Stropp was portrayed as “a strict but distracted and nervous gentleman” while Grodan Boll was “hyperactive, clumsy, and outspoken.”
Kalle’s head is made from green velvet and is decorated with black nostrils, a smiling mouth, and antennae made from clear plastic rods that are topped with red balls.
It might bug you to know that Steiff’s Kalle Stropp examples in good to very good condition with ID may sell in the $750-1,500 range today.
Steiff’s Maggi Fridolin, is the mascot of the German food company Maggi. He is 5 inches, standing, and made from rubber.
I’m certain that you’ve worked up an appetite for Steiff’s unusual figurines by this point. So it’s a great time to introduce you to our final character today, Steiff’s Maggi Fridolin. He is 5 inches, standing, and made from rubber. He wears a traditional chef’s uniform including a toque blanche, scarf, white jacket, and checkered pants. His shoes are black and white felt. Maggi Fridolin was made in this size only in 1958.
Maggi’s yellow Steiff tag reads “713” which translates to 7= “in caricature” and 13= “13 cm” tall.
This kitchen-keeper is the mascot of the German food company Maggi. Maggi is famous for its production of seasonings, soups, and noodles, which are distributed and enjoyed globally. Its condiment sauce, referred to as “Maggi” is similar to soy sauce and is extremely popular in Europe, Asia, and South America. The company had its origins in Switzerland but set up shop in Singen, Germany in 1897 – where it is still located today. It was purchased by Nestle in 1947.
There’s no need to cook the books when it comes to valuing Maggi Fridolin. Steiff made a number of character dolls in the 1950’s. This manufacturing technique was efficient and relatively low cost; however, over time, the rubber usually dried out and crumbled to pieces. This explains why so few of these interesting examples are in existence now. As such, Steiff’s Maggi Fridolin dolls in good to very good condition with ID may sell in the $500-$1,000 range today.
Rebekah Kaufman is a Worthologist who specializes in vintage Steiff and other European plush collectibles.
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