In the 50s the Los Angeles company Zoo-Line distributed a collection of animals that were made in Japan of teak and assorted woods. The line was primarily sold through parks and zoos, and ranged from miniatures packaged in matchbooks to larger functional figures. The hippo’s mouth, for instance, opens to reveal a space for storing jewelry. The pelican is a desk accessory. Inside the beak is a well for paperclips, and a single magnetic tooth attracts the clips.
The animals are collected today because of their quirky humor. A fallacy floating around on the web is that they are connected to the renown Danish designer, Kay Bojesen (1886-1958). In the early 50s Bojesen created several teak toys for Rosendahl and the company is still producing his monkey, bear and elephant. As the vintage examples can sell for hundreds of dollars, a few years ago some uninformed – or enterprising – Ebay seller referenced the Zoo-Line animals to Bojesen. Another seller adopted the info and the myth spread like weeds.
There is a lot of misinformation on Ebay (and the world in general) so take the time to do your own research. You’ll appreciate an object more if you understand its history. We own many things that were made by unknown craftsmen. While we don’t cherish them any less, we’ll always wonder about their stories and the hands that made them. – Terri