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Meet Steiffgal of My Steiff Life Blog and the Steiff Vintage Museum MarketplaceRead our December/January Interview : Steiffgal of My Steiff Life Blog and the Steiff Vintage Museum Marketplace. Every other month, we'll bring you an interview with someone in the bear world. Enjoy!
Describe yourself (are you a collector, dealer, historian, writer etc?).
I am a little bit of all the above. I started out as a collector - almost 40 years ago when my German Grandmother got me really interested in the brand. I had the pleasure of working for Steiff here in the USA, an experience I sincerely enjoyed. I guess I just morphed into a writer and historian; I started my vintage Steiff blog (http://mysteifflife.blogspot.com/) in early 2009 and have been very fortunate to have discovered a global community of on-line Steiff collectors who have been so supportive of my efforts.
Most recently I have become a dealer as well; many people with treasures to buy and sell have found me through the blog. I take great pleasure in both helping people find new homes for their collectibles as well as locating wish list items for collectors.
How did you become interested in bears, especially Steiff?
My father's mother, Erica Blum Adler, was German and had a lifelong love of Steiff. She introduced me to her collection of bears, monkeys, and dressed hedgehogs when I was about 4 or 5. So perhaps the love of Steiff is genetic? I have many of these family heirlooms in my hug now. As a matter of fact, my grandmother's Ted was the model for the 2010 North American Limited Edition Family Heirloom Bear, Teddy Blum. As a Steiff enthusiast, this is equivalent to winning a Nobel Prize!
Where do you live and where are you originally from?
I live in Cambridge, MA, a city with perhaps the most number of universities, geniuses, and dogs per square mile than any other place I can think of. I was born in Winter Park, FL, and spent most of my growing up years in the Boston, MA area. However, I must say, that when I am in Germany, for some reason, it also very much feels like home.
What do you collect? Do you have any favorites?
I have a growing collection of about 500+ mostly vintage items. My favorites are those items that were produced both before and immediately after WWll. I love these transitional items - things like Teddy Babies, Siamy the Siamese cat, Jockos, "traditional" looking rabbits, and some of the dressed animal dolls.
I also love the dogs that were introduced or updated in the 1950's and 1960's - pups like Peky, Dally, Arco, and Bully are blue ribbon for me!
Finally, I really like Steiff's oddballs - those out of the ordinary items that make you think - what were THEY THINKING when designing these items. These would include things like Steiff's goofy kiwi, fly, sand crabs, and lobsters. Come on now, who's gonna cuddle with those types of creatures?!
Do you have any other hobbies besides bears?
I walk 60 minutes a day, if that is considered a hobby, and also spend a lot of time in my garden. I always have classical music on in the background; I feel it makes me a better, smarter writer and researcher.
Do you have any children and/or pets?
I have three dogs: a 15-year-old English lab, a 7-year-old black pug, and a 5-year-old black pug. The pugs are mother/daughter and my constant companions. They are my co-authors on anything I write; they are fixtures on my lap as I type away. The lab is quite old and really enjoys sleeping next to our warm fireplace mantle.
Where do you sell your bears/animals?
I do a lot of one-on-one selling between clients when helping to broker a special deal or project, so that is mostly done by phone or email. I also run the Vintage Museum Marketplace on Ruby Lane (http://www.rubylane.com/shop/steiffgal), which is an online shop dedicated to the finest vintage, collectible, and hard-to-find Steiff treasures. I try and merchandise this store with really unconventional finds - things that would be most interesting to a vintage Steiff collector. Stop on by if you can, even to look. I am sure you will learn something!
Do you have any advice for collectors?
Buy only what you love, never for projected or assumed resale value! And it's ok if you find your tastes changing or evolving, that's perfectly normal. Things can lose – and gain – appeal over time. And I have recently learned that it is ok to sell, or move along, things from your collection. You have to make room for your new favorites, after all!
What are your thoughts on the current collectible market?
Thankfully, for both buyers and sellers, I am seeing an up tick in interest and prices for vintage Steiff collectibles. They are not back where they were maybe 10 years ago, but that was a high point that may not ever return! I think the recent Christie's Steiff auction in London, plus all the excitement and community generated through social media outlets (Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, blogs, etc.) has also contributed to this positive momentum.
You recently attended the Once in a Lifetime Christie's auction of the largest Steiff collection in the world. What are your thoughts?
Well, this certainly was the trip of a lifetime. The collectibles were just breathtaking - to the point of being overwhelming. Any of the 1,200+ pieces on display, and then up for sale, would be the crown jewel in just about every collector's hug. The auction itself was just amazing, almost surreal. I tweeted the nine-hour event live in the hopes of sharing some of this excitement to the outside world. But perhaps the most meaningful experience was meeting dozens of people who shared my interest and passion for the brand. Like me, many had traveled long distances and invested a lot of time and money in the trip. Many of us "knew" each other from conversations on Facebook and other online communities. But there is nothing like giving a "teddy hug" to a new friend in person!
My Steiff Life
My Steiff Life
Steiff Vintage Museum Marketplace
Steiff Vintage Museum Marketplace