Steiff I Love: Vintage Panda Bears

By Special Guest Blogger

January 6th, 2011

Today’s guest blogger is Rebekah Kaufman, also known as Steiffgal, who runs a terrific blog called My Steiff Life.

Steiff pandas are “rare bears” indeed. Here are five examples that cover a manufacturing timeframe of almost three decades. The photo of the panda threesome includes 15-cm examples ranging from the 1930s through the 1950s. The pandas on the right and in the middle of this shot are from the 1950s, while the one on the left is from the 1930s. The photo of the panda duo shows a 15-cm cub with her 22-cm mom; both are from the late 1950s. All of these black-and-white beauties are five-ways jointed, made from mohair, have open peach felt mouths, and are detailed with embroidered black noses. Each Ted also has black airbrushed circles around its brown, black-pupil eyes, giving them their distinct “wide eyed” look.

Their history
Since their introduction in the Steiff line in the late 1930s, Steiff pandas have been universally beloved by collectors. The first Panda Baer or Panda Bear made his Steiff debut in 1938 and very closely resembled the panda on the far left of the panda threesome photo. It is interesting to note that unlike most other Steiff bear designs, Steiff pandas have flat, broad feet. These very closely resemble the “toddler feet” of Teddy Baby, another popular Steiff design introduced in late 1920s. This foot design allows the panda to stand up on his own. These pandas were produced in 15- and 30-cm sizes through 1942.

The success of its first early panda inspired Steiff to produce more pandas in the line as soon as the factory reopened for business in the late 1940s. Steiff started making the prewar Panda design again, but only in 30 cm through 1950. Then, in 1951, Steiff updated its original panda design slightly and started producing it in 15, 22, 28, 35, 43, and 50 cm. The company used a suede-like grey rubber material instead of felt on this panda’s paws and soles from 1956 onward. This newer panda pattern, also a collector’s favorite, was in the line until 1961.

Where I got them
Steiff pandas from the 1930-through-1960 timeframe are quite hard to come by on the market, probably because relatively few were made. Those collectors who do have them are hesitant to move them along, given their appeal. The panda on the far left of the threesome-photo was discovered via a classified listing. For some reason, he had been on the market for several months at a competitive price but no one had purchased him. I felt that I had hit the jackpot when I found out he was still available, and adopted him immediately. The panda in the center came as a “bonus” in a large lot of assorted Steiff animals I purchased sight unseen at auction; I almost had a heart attack when I discovered him among many other Steiff treasures in the shipment from the auctioneer. The panda on the right, as well as the panda duo, were purchased through online auctions for a song; for some reason these tiny treasures escaped the radar of other collectors.

If you are looking to add a little panda-monium to your Steiff collection, these terrific Teds might just be the trick—they certainly do it for me!

9 comments so far

  1. barb hulett Says:

    I have a Steiff Panda Bear #671227 and I’m trying to find information and value and was wondering if you could help me out.
    Much Appreciated,
    Barb

  2. Steiffgal Says:

    Hi Barb, your panda is Manschli panda in black and white plush. He is 30 cm and was made just for the US market in 2008. He retailed for $35 then and is probably valued about that now. Cheers, Steiffgal

  3. Christine Stearns Says:

    I’ve had a Panda bear that has a rubbery-plastic nose and mouth.Is there anything I can use to clean Teddie’s white areas w/o hurting the painted plastic. Like a white powder? The poor guy is 60+yo and I don’t want to harm his value.

  4. Steiffgal Says:

    @Christine: what material is the panda made from?

  5. peter farrell Says:

    i have a panda that was my sisters some 57yrs ago he is about 40cm he has red woollen lke buttons on his belly.his eyes are white with a black plastic moveable coinlike,his paws and feet are white iwould love to now if he is collectable,thanks

  6. Steiffgal Says:

    @Peter: can you send a picture of him to Steifflife@gmail.com?

  7. Bryce S. Says:

    I have a panda i got as a child secondhand. It is I believe 22cm. has jointed arms legs, head and tail. it looks quite abit like the ones shown on the site however it has a closed mouth. I believe it is mohair. the paws and feet have a tan felt like fabric.I have had it 40 yrs but it looked old when I got it, and I never played with it. I have yet to see the same one on a site but am trying to identify it.

  8. pat fuhr Says:

    I HAVE A PANDA BEAR FROM THE 1950 ERA. IT WAS MINE AND I PLAYED WITH THE BEAR SO THERE IS NO BUTTON. HE IS VERY LARGE OVER 20″. HE IS IN GREAT SHAPE AND HIS FUR IS VERY NICE. HE DOES HAS THE TAG US ZONE. THE ONLY THING DONE TO HIM IS HIS FEET PADS NEEDED TO BE REPAIRED SO I TOOK HIM TO A DOLL HOSPITAL FOR REPAIR. HE REALLY IS NICE BUT I DO NOT KNOW HIS VALUE AND COULD USE SOME HELP. THANK YOU SO MUCH. PAT I HAVE OTHER PANDAS TOO BUT THIS IS THE LARGEST.

  9. Jacque Compton Says:

    I have a panda in a setting position. He has the steiff tag that calls him Tanky. He has the no. 6426/18. Could you tell me when he was born? He is so cute. I’d just like to no more about him—thanks


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