What a pleasure it is to offer this magnificent beast to you! He joins his baby brother in my shop. This gorgeous (and not at all ferocious-looking) guy is the middle size of the three sitting tigers that Steiff made in this style, and he is very rare, having been born sometime in the short span of years from 1959 to 1961. This gorgeous guy has a not-as-nice same-size brother living in one of my vitrines, and I will probably kick myself for letting him go!
Given his wonderful condition, his span of production dates is really amazing to consider. Bengal tiger (“BT”) has both his button and flag, which shows the totally legible article number 3322,00 (where the “22” denotes his height in centimeters). Even if he did not have his flag, that is the only number with which he was produced. BT is a little taller than his catalogued size, measuring about 23.4 centimeters tall to the top of his head, about 9 1/4 inches.
BT is in excellent condition, and I DON’T MEAN “for his age!” I rate all my critters on the same absolute scale, whether they were born more than half a century ago, as this guy was, or they were born 10 years ago. We have all seen fantastically preserved antique Steiff animals as well as those only a decade or so old who are ready for the trash.
I guess I should say “excellent-minus” to be a bit conservative, although I am sure there are others who would go in the other direction and call him “mint.” BT’s upper right (plastic) tooth (left as he faces you) is a little bit looser than the others (all of which can wiggle a little bit). I don’t think that tooth is in any danger of falling out, especially since I believe BT will join an adult’s collection and will be displayed safely out of the reach of a prying child’s hands. For all I know, this is the way he left Giengen, and, in any case, I believe it is no big deal.
Another, extremely minor failing is BT’s inoperative squeaker. You can feel it depress when you press his belly, but the only sound you hear is the crunch of excelsior. As I always say, I believe that this condition “issue” is inconsequential because when BT sits on display and you admire him from a distance, you would not know whether he made a sound or not.
I have one other thing to mention; it is about BT’s tail. Since he is so rare, you may not have seen him before, and you would, therefore, have nothing to compare him to. But I believe there is a design flaw in this tiger, as well as in other animals that are seated on their haunches who have long extended tails—Leo and Lea come to mind—causing a conflict between his seated pose and the place on his back where his tail starts, such that his tail does not lay absolutely flat. Sometimes, in fact quite often, this stress on the tail causes a severe separation of the stuffing where the Bengal’s tail and body join, and his tail flops down limply and almost vertically when you hold him up (which BT’s tail DOES NOT).
Although BT suffers a bit from that same design defect, his tail is one of the nicest I have seen. I considered opening it up at the base to give it a fresh infusion of excelsior, but I decided that was silly, since he looks fabulous just the way he is, and, even with re-stuffing, his tail would have the same strain on it due to his posture and would eventually look as it does now. I am willing to open up animals to repair them when my repair would make a tremendous difference in their appearance, such that the invasiveness of the procedure would warrant the risk of doing more damage with the attempted repair. This is certainly NOT the case with BT. Therefore, I decided against doing anything.
Well, that’s it for BT’s detractions, and everything else about him is wonderful! His mohair is full for the most part, with some tiny areas of wear along some of his seams. His coloring is vibrant—both the orange background and the (un-faded) black stripes. BT’s white areas may be just a tiny bit closer to ecru now than they were when he left Giengen, but they are still very bright and much closer to pure white than to the tan (described as such by some sellers who don’t make a distinction between what they see and what the animal once looked like) you often see in animals of this age.
BT’s cantaloupe-colored felt palate retains lots of rose-colored airbrushing, and the black airbrushed nostrils on his lustrous coral floss nose are still strong. Speaking of floss, BT retains the three black floss toe separations on each foot, and finally, he retains all twelve of his original whiskers, a bit disorderly but otherwise fine.
I can’t think of anything else to tell you, but please write if you have a question. BT’s short production and his wonderful condition—with most of his IDs!—make him something an advanced collector should covet. If you are one of the lucky ones who own this beast already, consider him as a gift for the Steiff tiger lover in your life.
WHATEVER YOU DECIDE TO DO ABOUT BT OR ANY OF MY OTHER STEIFF ITEMS, PLEASE BE SURE TO SEE THE ARTICLE I HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT STEIFF ID FRAUD—INCLUDING COUNTERFEIT CHEST TAGS—(AND OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR COLLECTORS). YOU WILL FIND THE LINK ON MY SHOP HOME PAGE UNDER “FAVORITE LINKS.” IF YOU HAVE NOT LOOKED AT IT RECENTLY IF YOU HAVE NOT LOOKED AT IT RECENTLY, I UPDATED AND EXPANDED IT IN OCTOBER, 2020.
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Middle Brother Rare Steiff Seated Bengal Tiger Wild Cat with Teeth 2 IDs 1959-1961 Only
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