What is the current value of my Steiff lion? It is about 3.5 inches tall and 4. 5 inches wide, with a beige/brown body and thick mixed-brown-colored mane. It was purchased in Trier, Germany, about 1984 and is in excellent condition with its original Steiff tag still on it.
We know that it has been 25 years since this piece was purchased, but that is a little soon for this cute stuffed lion to have gained much value. Even though Steiff animals are highly desired, collectors are much more interested in the examples that have more than a few short years on them.
Appolonia Margarete Steiff was born in 1847 in Giengen, Germany. As a toddler, Margarete was stricken with polio and was subsequently confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
Margarete — or "Gretle," as she was known to the family — did, however, attend grade school and she began taking sewing lessons.. She learned to operate a sewing machine backward because one of her arms was stronger than the other.
Margarete became a proficient seamstress, and she and her sister, Pauline, began a home-based enterprise making women's clothing. In 1879, Margarete made elephant-shaped pincushions and these became the basis of her later toy business.
In 1889, she moved her operation to a toy factory, and in 1893 the company was registered as Margarete Steiff GmbH. This was a family business with Margarete's brother, Fritz, joining the firm and Fritz's children joined the company later.
They included Richard Steiff, who introduced Steiff products to the international market at the prestigious Leipzig Fair.
Steiff is still in business, but their animals from the 1950s and before are the most collectible. This example here needs to be in pristine condition to have retained its monetary value, and it should still have its metal ear tag with yellow cloth tag underneath that indicated the stock number and size. It should also have a circular paper chest tag attached with string.
On its Web site, Steiff still sells a lion similar to the one in today's question for $68, and on eBay, a version from the 1950s sells for around $65. These animals are dubbed "Leo," as one might expect, but a large Steiff Studio Lion that measures an impressive 43 inches tall sells for $4,400.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of "Price It Yourself" (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, PO Box 27540, Knoxville, TN 37927. E-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.