Getting to Know You: Rebekah Kaufman, Steiff Enthusiast
Rebekah Kaufman has been part of the WorthPoint family for years. She is our resident expert on anything Steiff.
Rebekah Kaufman is a regular contributor to WorthPoint’s Insider and has been part of the WorthPoint family for years. She is our resident expert on anything Steiff. The Insider runs articles written by Rebekah quite frequently, and now we want our readers to get to know Rebekah herself.
First, a bit of “professional information” about Rebekah. Rebekah’s passion became her vocation when she became the Steiff Club Manager for the North American division of Margarete Steiff GmbH in 2003. A few years later, in 2008, she changed jobs and was appointed to the position she holds today – that of Steiff’s North American archivist. In this role, she leads collector’s events around the country, authors most of the vintage related articles in the biannual Steiff Club Magazine, and authenticates and values vintage Steiff treasures on behalf of the company. In 2014, at James D. Julia Auctioneers in Fairfield, ME, she appraised and cataloged the largest and most important vintage Steiff collection to come to market ever in North America; the sale realized over half a million dollars. Since 2015, she has consulted with Morphy Auctions of Denver, PA as a Fine Plush Expert where she identifies, values, and catalogs treasures for the company’s fine toy auction events on an as needed basis. Rebekah owns and merchandises Steiffgal’s Vintage Museum Marketplace, the largest online vintage Steiff shop worldwide. It can be found at www.rubylane.com/shop/steiffgal.
Rebekah is a regular contributor to national and international print publications. She is the North American Teddy bear and doll correspondent for the German media company Wellhausen & Marquardt. She was the only American expert invited to present a seminar at the 2000 Years of Childhood convention and exposition in London, England in November 2016, and was featured on a German primetime television program on the history and collectability of Steiff items which aired over 50 times, and has consulted for the BBC’s program The Repair Shop on very vintage Steiff items.
Here in the United States, Rebekah is an active member of United Federation of Doll Clubs, is the upcoming Recording Secretary for Doll Collectors of America, and upcoming Second Vice President of Doll Study Club of Boston. She has consulted for TV networks including HGTV, CBS (Inside Edition), History.com (Pawn Stars), and E! Entertainment (Clean House). Rebekah has been an invited guest on radio and video programs for the Antiques Auction Forum, Gemr, Ruby Lane, Auctionata, The Collector’s Show, and Harry Rinker’s Whatcha Got. She acts as a go-to resource for industry, auction houses, and the media; her engagements have included Teddy Dorado, Theriault’s Doll Auctions, Christies, James D. Julia, Morphy Auctions, F.A.O. Schwarz, The Boston Center for Adult Education, The Marin Country Mart, The Metropolitan Waterworks Museum, The Reading Society of Craftsmen, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg, Town and Country, and The Huffington Post, among others.
Here’s a picture of Rebekah outside the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal holding one of her favorite pals, a pocket sized Teddy Baby style bear named Bitty Bub.
Now for the more “personal” side of Rebekah.
1. How did you get your start in the Steiff world?
I am a third generation lifelong Steiff enthusiast. My personal collection of vintage Steiff treasures numbers north of 1,200. My German grandmother kindled my love for the brand over four decades ago, and today I am the proud steward of many of my Oma’s Steiff treasures.
2. How did you get involved even deeper than just a hobby into the antiques and collectibles industry?
My passion became my vocation when I became the Steiff Club Manager for the North American division of Margarete Steiff GmbH in 2003. A few years later, in 2008, I changed jobs and was appointed to the position I hold today – that of Steiff’s North American archivist.
3. How did you come to know WorthPoint?
About 10 years ago, I realized that I might be able to provide Steiff identification and valuation services through online companies specializing in antiques and collectibles. I did some research and found WorthPoint. I sent a letter of introduction to Will, the owner, and asked if he needed a specialist in my category. Within 5 minutes he wrote back and asked me to connect with Maggie, who was in charge of the WorthPoint Ask a Worthologist program. Interestingly, at that exact moment, Maggie was struggling with a challenging Steiff Worthologist report. She described the item to me over email, and I knew what it was immediately – an unusual and little known mohair snowman from the 1950’s that was made as an exclusive for a department store in the USA. From that moment onward, I have been providing expert services as well as writing articles for WorthPoint.
5. What is the one piece of advice you would give your younger self, just starting out in the a/c world?
Well, I think launching a career takes a lot of different efforts. I would suggest: Meet as many industry people as you can and learn from their experience. Be grateful for their time and advice, thank them, and keep in touch. Embrace opportunities, even though they may not appear in conventional ways. Join professional societies so you can keep current with all that is happening within your industry and specialty. Attend meetings and conventions. Blog, and establish a following and niche. Write for publications and speak at events to get your name out there and your reputation established.
6. What trends do you see looming in the a/c world?
People are interested in connecting again with their childhood, so items from the 1950’s onward, which aren’t terribly old, are becoming of interest. I spend a lot of time finding bears or animals from the 1950-1980 time period for customers. They either want to keep these treasures for themselves for nostaligia purposes, or to gift them to a child or grandchilid. I especially like this type of business!
7. On a personal note, what are some other things you enjoy that don’t involve our industry?
- Our two pug dogs
8. Is there something our readers would be surprised to know about you?
I travel a lot for work, and when I do, I ALWAYS take along a bear with me as a companion. Some people think that’s a little strange for an adult woman, but many of my friends and fellow collectors also travel with doll or bear friends as well. So here’s a picture of me outside the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal holding one of my favorite pals, a pocket sized Teddy Baby style bear named Bitty Bub.
9. What else would you like for our readers to know?
I put out a monthly e-newsletter about vintage Steiff which includes a summary of Steiff related auctions and events worldwide. If readers are interested in subscribing to this, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can add them to the mailing list. My blog, “My Steiff Life,” focuses on vintage Steiff finds, Steiff antiquing and travel adventures, international Steiff happenings, and the legacy and history of the Steiff company. It has been updated weekly since 2009 and can be found at http://mysteifflife.blogspot.com.
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