Saturday, July 23, 2016

Just When You Think You Have Seen Everything...

Have you ever said to yourself... there's no question about it, I have definitely seen it all? That's what Steiffgal thought in terms of Steiff, and now she has egg on her face. Apparently with Steiff, that's clearly impossible! Recently, Steiffgal was invited on a "housecall" to see a most unusual treasure.  And guess who was there to greet her? Check out this fantastic, fine feathered friend and see what makes him so interesting from the design and collector's perspectives.

Bird's the word when it comes to this enormous Steiff display ostrich. He is standing, unjointed, excelsior stuffed, and extremely lifelike! He stands at 220 cm, or about 7-1/2 feet tall. (He's so large that Steiffgal had to stand on a sofa to take a full body photo of him!) He has an internal metal "skeleton" for structure and stability. His head comes off for ease of packing and shipping. Starting from the top, his head and neck are made of white and tan dralon. His beak is made from yellow felt, and he has oversized brown and black pupil eyes and long eyelashes. (Steiffgal's studio zebra, from the same era, has these identical eyes and eyelash detailing.) Ostrich's face comes to life with black airbrushed highlights. His body and wings are made from very long, black, wavy mohair, while his tail feathers are made from the same style mohair in white. His muscular looking legs are totally fabulous, and made from short yellow mohair that has been highlighted and sculpted with black airbrushing. His feet have two "toes" on each, and have a metal support rod in them to help with standing and stability. At one time, he may have had a metal base to help with this as well.

This marvelous bird - clearly outstanding in so many ways - was produced by Steiff in 1960 and 1967 only, according to Steiff publications. 


Ostrich also has a great owner history. He was purchased in the very early 1970's as a "gag" birthday gift for his owner, who is indeed a Steiff collector. She had originally wanted a Steiff studio deer, but when her college sorority sisters went to try and purchase one at Kaufman's Department Store in Pennsylvania, the retailer did not have one in stock. However, they did have this ostrich available. It originally was priced at $350 - a lot of money at the time, and even more so when you are a college student - but was marked down to $50. The friends did not have enough money in their pockets at the time, so they went to other friends so they could contribute towards the ostrich. They quickly collected $5 from 10 friends, and purchased the ostrich for the owner. Of course, the gift was enormously successful, and today, almost 50 years later, the ostrich remains the star of the family's Steiff collection. 

Today, the ostrich "feathers the nest" of her daughter and son-in-law's family living room and makes for quite the focal point indeed.

Interest in these "big birds" has really taken flight recently. At the June, 2016 toy sale at Morphy Auctions in Denver, PA, five vintage Steiff display birds came under the hammer. There was enormous, global interest in this event's Steiff studio peacock, vulture, turkey, flamingo, and parrot. The turkey was the star of the day - which is pretty unusual for the species, except at Thanksgiving - realizing $5,185! It is Steiffgal's guess, given this recent sales history and having seen this ostrich firsthand, that this piece would probably sell at auction at this level as well. Now that's what Steiffgal would call a pretty good nest egg.

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on this rare Steiff ostrich has been a larger than life experience for you.  

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

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