Ok - so how to begin here? The Steiffteam had just parked their car in one of the fields adjacent to Route 20, where the event is held. The plan was to first cover the area where they had struck gold last year, about a quarter of a mile down the field. As they were walking past the very first booth of the show, there he was. A magnificent lifesized Steiff studio baby okapi, majestically displayed among vintage cloth dolls and a few old paintings. Steiffgal's heart skipped a beat or two in disbelief. After a quick inspection, Steiffgal's fondest dreams were realized. Yes, indeed it was a superb example of one of Steiff's most unusual studio items from the 1960's. After a few minutes of light negotiations, the treasure was hers! Here on the left you can see Steiffguy excitedly getting ready to carry this breathtaking find back to the Steiffcar. Imagine the looks he got in transit as the porter?
So who exactly is this jungle gem? An okapi is a little bit like a cross between a giraffe and a zebra. This elegant and distinctive animal somewhat resembles a giraffe from the torso up - with his long and graceful neck and pert ears - and a zebra from the legs down, with his striped legs and lower back torso. Steiff's studio version is standing, mohair, and gorgeously detailed with hand airbrushing in black and many shades of browns and tans. He has a peach colored felt lined open mouth and huge brown and black pupil eyes. The soles of his hooves are covered in a very durable leather like material. This design was produced in 120 and 200 cm in 1960 and 1967 only. Steiffgal's version is the 120 cm baby sized model.
Okapis are as rare in the Steiff catalog as they are in real life, and have only appeared for a handful of times in the line. In addition to the studio versions mentioned above, Steiff also produced a series of smaller okapis in 14, 28, and 43 cm from 1958 through 1970. These are pictured here on the left. The 14 and 28 cm versions are made from velvet while the 43 cm version is made from mohair. All are standing and have amazing brown, black, tan, and grey airbrushed details and black mohair manes. The larger sizes have mohair tipped tails and ears; the smallest version has a little rope tail and felt ears. The next Steiff okapi made his very brief appearance in the line for one year only, in 1995. His name was Kiwu; he was 35 cm, standing, and made from woven fur. Given his limited production and distribution, it is no surprise that Steiffgal has never actually seen Kiwu in person.
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on special finds and Steiff okapis has been an exotic adventure for you as well!
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