February 5, 2012

The Poodle-Pup-In-Pink Mystery

As mentioned a few days ago, I have a penchant (a nice way of saying crazy obsession) for collecting small vintage cats and dogs. Among my favorites are several Steiff miniature animals from the 1950s. These mohair cuties are each 4-5 " long with movable heads and glass eyes and I adore them.

They are keepers.

So last summer, when I got to tag along with the menfolk and go to The Great Oregon Steam-up (a country fair devoted to steam-powered antique machinery!), I was thrilled to find this darling little poodle at the flea market there:

I knew by her detailed features that she was a Steiff poodle from the 50's or 60's and I was amused that someone had taken such care to dress her in a pink taffeta and lace skirt with a bejeweled ribbon around her neck.

When I peeked under the skirt, I found a very professional tag that said "Helen Ratkai is my Couturiere". Who was Helen Ratkai? Was she somebody's funny grandmother? Was she a ditzy doggy dame? Was she a famous designer? Was it time to call the History Detectives?

No, it was time to do a little Googling. After a bit of research I discovered that Ms. Ratkai was a fine art artist in New York who also dressed hundreds of different Steiff animals back in the 50's and 60's and they were sold through Lord & Taylor and FAO Schwarz. And apparently these little creations are now highly collectible! A very informative article can be found at The Teddy Bear & Friends website:
Helen Ratkai Is My Couturiere...But Who is Helen Ratkai?

Now we all know that due to space limitations I can no longer keep all of my keepers and I am thinning out the menagerie. So I have put this little cutie up for auction on Ebay, and the auction ends tonight at around 9:30 PST. Click here if you would like to check out what the bid is currently at. Will it go sky high or will somebody get a real deal? I'm on pins and needles and can't wait to see what happens!

(And if you happen to find this little poodle-pup-in-pink completely irresistible, you are certainly welcome to throw in your own bid!

Thanks for visiting!


zuzu53 said...

I placed a bid but now I will have to find out if she ever dressed any Steiff kitties. Good Luck! She is a cutie!

Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

what a great story! and what an adorable collection :-)

Susan Faye said...

Thanks for your bid, zuzu53! I've seen examples of mostly dressed monkeys, and a lamb--but no kitties yet... Good luck with your quest-- hope you find one!