February 6, 2008

High-End Auction Therapy, Maybe: Renate Mueller's Therapeutic Toys


Around 1969 and into the 70's Renate Mueller [that Müller, with an umlaut, btw] designed a collection of therapeutic toys with a former instructor, Helene Haeusler, for the venerable German teddy bear manufacturer, H. Josef Leven. Based in the eastern town of Sonneberg, Leven and the other companies in the famous toymaking town had all been nationalized in the 50's by the communist government.

German reunification meant that the Leven heirs got their company back in the 1990's [the owner's daughter, Dorle Engel, had married the son of another teddy bear maker, Max Hermann. That's what life in a small toy town'll do to you. Leven bears are now a subsidiary brand of Hermann.] And since the old school bear heirs had no interest in commie burlap elephants, Mueller got the rights to her designs, too.

The stuffed jute & leather toys are big, maybe 11-12 inches tall, and have handles and tabs on them for tugging, wrestling, hugging, and riding. Not that you'd ever let a kid play with the originals. I saw one rhino priced at $2200 somewhere, and R 20th Century has an elephant [above] for "price on request." The big animals are the trophy, but a hippo that sold last fall at German auction also included a little stuffed camel and a soft block. Total price, EUR800, or roughly $195,000 US.


According to Andy, who was way ahead of the Mueller game--and who posted some nice product shots of the menagerie--Mueller's running a B&B somewhere and making her animals to order, a veritable Marilyn Neuhart for the Ostalgie crowd.

Renate Mueller Animals [reflib]
Therapeutisches Kinderspielzeug, Artist: Müller, Renate; Haeusler, Helene [quittenbaum.de]

1 Comment

man that block is cool

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