|A Ratkai Steiff Elephant|
Helen's Steiff creations were gorgeous, one of a kind treasures. Although each one was distinct, most were based on standard line 1950's era small or medium sized Steiff animals, including dogs, cats, horses, zebras, monkeys, lambs, and other familiar farm, forest, and jungle friends. Ratkai hand dressed each Steiff treasure to the nines in elegant and designer-quality skirts, dresses, blouses, or other clothing; all were made from the finest silk, velvets, laces, and fabric ribbons. Many had hats, handbags, jewelry, and other fashionable accessories, often detailed with flowers, sequins, and beading. Perhaps the only commonality between Helen's items were their identification: each bore a tag reading "Helen Ratkai is my couturiere" stitched somewhere unobtrusively on the item's outfit; a sample of this tag is pictured here on the left.
An article published December 20, 1957 in the Sarasota (FL.) Herald Tribune featured a profile of Ratkai and her elegant animal creations. It read in part...
|A Ratkai Steiff Lamb|
|A Ratkai Steiff Dog|
Ratkai's animal fashion plates are "cover girls" to many Steiff collectors, even today. Some even specialize in Helen's unique treasures. One such collector is Cathleen Smith Bresciani, designer, philanthropist, and author of the children's book Sassafrass Jones and the Search for a Forever Home, which features vintage Steiff items in its cast of characters. Steiffgal had the pleasure of sharing her story with readers awhile back.
|A Smith Bresciani Ratkai Inspired Wild Boar|
Steiffgal hopes this discussion on Helen Ratkai's dressed Steiff animals has been a black tie affair for you.
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, family or otherwise? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.