Sunday, November 10, 2013

This Well Dressed Steiff Rabbit Doll Deserves A Standing Ovation

Steiffgal certainly finds most Steiff items appealing, but there are some that are truly outstanding - literally!  Most recently, she has had the pleasure of welcoming a somewhat rare standing rabbit into her collection.  And with his stylish apparel, it is fair to say he has a leg up in the fashion department as well!  Take a look at this handsome hare and see what makes him so interesting from the design and historical perspectives.

It's so hard not to break into a big smile when it comes to this happy go lucky fellow.  Here we have Ossili.  He is 30 cm and made from mohair.  His arms are on wires and are poseable and he is head jointed.  He has a very dear little tail;  large, flat cardboard lined feet that are covered with synthetic leather paws; and sweet hand-paws that are stitched with little fingers.  His darling face is detailed with a peach colored felt lined open mouth, a pink hand embroidered nose, clear mono-filament whiskers, and large oversized black and brown pupil eyes.  He wears a red felt necktie and a green felt apron decorated with a yellow felt pocket. Ossili was produced in this size only from 1962 through 1974.

So what's in a name, especially Ossili?  It is Steiffgals' best guess that Ossili's name may be a nod to the German word Ostern, which translates to the delightful, and bunny-centric holiday of Easter!

Face it, sweet Ossili really resembles another well known and beloved standing dressed rabbit design called Nikili.  Nikili was produced as a bub, or boy, and a maedel, or girl, in two versions.  The earlier version was in  production from 1951 through 1957; the boys wore Dutch style green felt overalls and the girls wore calico skirts and matching green tops.  This set was produced in 25 and 35 cm.  The later version was in production from 1958 through 1963; the boys wore dark felt shorts and red vests and the girls work red polka-dotted skirts and white felt tops.  This second set was produced in 26 and 36 cm.    In all cases, Nikili was head and arm jointed and had the head of the very famous and beloved Niki rabbit, who is pictured here on the left.

It seems logical that Ossili is the next "generation" of the pupp-hase (doll rabbit) Nikili based on his timeline and design.  In terms of timeline, Nikili stopped production in 1963 and Ossili was introduced n 1962. So this aligns just right. In terms of design, the changes that occur between Nikili and Ossili are quite typical in the way that Steiff updated items in the product line over time - for cost and manufacturing efficiencies.  These core elements included:

  • Jointing:  Nikili was three ways jointed and Ossili was head jointed only, with unjointed arms that were posable on metal wires.  Jointing is very expensive, and by reducing the number of joints, the company could save on material and manufacturing expenses.
  • Clothing:  Nikili was fully dressed head to toe, including shoes.  Ossili wore only a simple felt necktie and felt apron, and did not have shoes.
  • Materials:  Ossili's footpads were made from synthetic leather, not felt.  This same treatment (going from felt footpads to faux leather over time) is also noted on the company's beloved panda bears and Teddy Baby patterns.
  • Handiwork details:  Nikili's nose was hand embroidered in pink with a black outline; Ossili's nose was quite similar without the extra step of a black outline.  
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Steiff's charming and delightful Ossili rabbit is worthy of a standing ovation!

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