Titanic ‘Mourning Bear’ could stitch up $40,000

FAIRFIELD, Maine — James D. Julia Auctioneers is offering an outstanding collection of Steiff creations, including a number of bears, during its June 13, 2014, Toy, Doll & Advertising auction. The collection, curated over decades by Chuck and the late Cathy

Titanic Mourning Bear

Black Steiff Titanic “Mourning Bear,” made to honor those lives lost in the infamous tragedy, features distinctive red felt backed shoebutton eyes to represent tears and sadness ($25,000-$40,000). (Photo courtesy James D. Julia)

Steffes of Galax, Virginia, is the finest collection (and one of the largest) of its type in quality, condition and rarity to hit the market in many years. Starting promptly at 10 a.m., the sale is taking place at Julia’s auction facility on Route 201 in Fairfield, Maine.

Enthusiasts like no other, Chuck Steffes, along with his now dearly departed wife Cathy, traveled the globe for approximately three decades forging friendships and hunting Steiff treasures to add to their collection. The pair assembled a singular collection that may be the envy of collectors the world over. According to Rebekah Kaufman, consultant Steiff archivist for Steiff North America who cataloged the collection, “It is amazingly comprehensive and impeccably curated and reflects the finest examples of Steiff design, quality and craftsmanship from the first third of the 20th century.”

Of the approximately 120 stellar examples from the Steffes collection, which consists predominantly of bears, rabbits and cats in a variety of patterns and styles, it is difficult to choose only a few highlights to mention. One of the standouts of the grouping is a rare and historically important black Steiff Titanic “Mourning Bear.” Made to honor those lives lost in the infamous tragedy, it is one of the most sought after vintage bears known. Only 665 were ever produced and only 78 were ever made in this 20-inch size and configuration. It features highly distinctive red felt backed shoebutton eyes to represent tears and sadness. It comes complete with its original ear button and is estimated for $25,000 to $40,000.

Also of historical significance is one of the earliest bears Steiff ever produced, the rare “Rod” bear. This blond fellow that essentially “started it all” is constructed with rod joints, long arms, humped back, felt paws, black shoebutton eyes and black hand-formed gutta percha nose. Designed by Richard Steiff after viewing bears at the Stuttgart Zoo, it seems perhaps more true to life than their subsequent creations that eventually established the traditional “teddy bear” look. And the “piéce de resistance” is his original elephant button, the earliest and most desirable Steiff ID in the world. Seldom found in even the most advanced collections, this bear carries an estimate of $15,000 to $22,000.

Kellogs Corn Flakes ad

This oil on canvas painting, for a Kellogg’s corn flakes ad by James Alexander Bayne, a U.S. fighter pilot struck down during WWI. The piece is accompanied by photos of the artist along with a Ladies Home Journal from March 1915 in which the ad appears, and is expected to command between $2,500 and $5,000. (Photo courtesy James D. Julia)

Somewhat later, a 1925 yellow teddy bear that was produced because Richard Steiff, in a letter from America, posited that Steiff had not changed significantly in design since their introduction. He insisted that the firm create a line that was warmer, more cuddly and more colorful and inviting. The result was a bear known as “Happy” with almost feminine features including long, soft curly mohair and deep brown and black glass pupil eyes. This example, complete with its trailing “F” button, comes estimated for $12,000 to $18,000.

These bears are complemented by scores of other fine examples including rare “center seam” bears as well as a variety of mohair, felt and velvet cats and rabbits. Highlights include many freestanding six-way jointed cats as well as frisky felines playing with toys and those affixed to pillows.

The sale also includes the fine antiques James D. Julia sales have come to be known for: salesman samples; fine antique dolls; clockwork, tin and cast toys; skittles; advertising items; music machines; mechanical and still banks; coin-ops; and other desirable collectibles.

This auction will be preceded by Julia’s summer Fine Glass & Lamp auction taking place June 11-12 which will feature Tiffany, Handel, Gallé, art pottery and more desirable decorative arts items.

For more information, visit www.jamesdjulia.com or contact 207-453-7125 or info@jamesdjulia.com. Free full-color brochures are available, as are full-color, detailed and illustrated catalogs for $39. Previews for the auctions will be Tuesday, June 10 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday through Friday from 8-10 a.m. before each auction session at Julia’s auction facilities on Route 201 in Fairfield, Maine.

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