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Over the years, I've gathered quite a few bears. Most of them have been as gifts, each coming with a great deal of sentimental value for one reason or another. A few of the ones that have the most meaning for me however, happen to be the few Steiff ones I have. I got my first Steiff a few years back and since, I've really taken to them, even purchasing a few (new ones) myself.
I'd like to get into collecting bears, more specifically Steiff bears. The issue is, I don't know much about them, or about collecting items of this nature in general. I'd like to learn enough to be able to see one for sale, have a general idea of it's value, it's authenticity, and know that I'm making the right decision.
Are there any good places to start learning? I've tried doing some searches online, and found a few good sites describing the change in ear buttons over the years, etc, but not much else beyond that. I still, for example, don't know why some of my bears have a yellow tag in their ear and some have a white one, or how the hump in the back came to be. I'm not sure about any good places to look for bears (at less then premium prices), or what to look for when determining condition. Any direction, be it in the form of books, websites, or just general advice that you could provide would be helpful and greatly appreciated. Thanks.
I have the Steiff Sortiment books.
I have the 1892-1943 and 1947-2003 books. The last is the most current one produced. The first book covers all Steiff from the very first production of them and of course no bears were made during WW2 so that is why the gap from 1943 to 1947. These books are NOT cheap by any means but I have not found any book or site for that matter that is more complete.
The books have wonderful pictures and cover everything a collector needs to know.
Here's a link to get you started. I bough mine on eBay but if you really search around you will fine a few copies but unfortunately the cheapest I have found was $75.00 for each book.
Good luck on your collecting.
For the best reference on the various buttons and tags, as well as a very interesting historical perspective, I recommend "125 Years Steiff Company History" by Gunther Pfeiffer, the author of the Sortiment books (from $26 right now at Amazon US).
Learning about values is mostly a process of experience, and watching eBay is a good place for that. You can also refer to the online Steiff database, but be aware that values there are very optimistic, especially in this economy: http://www.collectorvalues.com/steiffse … dy%20bears (If you're interested in the limited editions and special country editions, get to know www.bearattack.com where you'll find real photos and the original retail prices.)
Finally, you might want to join the Steiff club. It's $65 per year, I believe, which gets you a quarterly magazine, the annual catalogs, information on special releases, and a small gift bear.
I have another book by Gunther Pfeiffer called "The Story of the Steiff Teddy Bear, an illustrated history from 1902".
It gives you all the basic information you need about types of buttons, how the bears were marked and stuff.