Tuesday - 29 July 2014

Steiff ‘Titanic’ teddy tops latest sales in a bear market

04 July 2014Written by Roland Arkell

The story goes that Steiff black mohair bears were produced as mourning bears after the Titanic disaster in April 1912.

Around 600 were made in five sizes, with the example measuring 20in (50cm) high, pictured here, one of only 82 made.

Back in December 2000, when the teddy market was closer to its zenith, another example of this size, in exceptional condition, was bought by the Puppenhaus Museum in Basel, Switzerland, at Christie's South Kensington for £80,000.

This one, offered on June 12 by Special Auctions Services (15% buyer's premium) of Reading - who now count former CSK teddy bear specialist Daniel Agnew among their number - sold for £16,000 (estimate £8000-12,000).

Also in this sale was a Steiff 'blank button' bear c.1904-05 - made just a couple of years after Richard Steiff launched the world's first jointed plush bear at the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903 and the year the button trademark was introduced in response to what Steiff considered to be inferior copies. 

This came with an original photograph depicting the bear and its owner Agnes Sherwood Andersen who, born on November 5, 1905, grew up as an only child in the Lasswade area of Edinburgh. Her teddy, the catalogue description pointed out, would often take a place at the table if ever there were 13 people sitting down to dinner.

Estimated at £700-1000 on account if its 'playworn' condition, it sold for £2200.

Bear spotted in Chiswick

A well-loved but rare Steiff bruin was sold by Chiswick Auctions (20% buyer's premium) on June 24. This 20in (50cm) 'hot water bottle' teddy was posted down from the borders of Scotland, passed down through three generations of a family.

It had been patched up a few times - and the tinplate water bottle that was once laced up inside the bear's tum had long since disappeared - but it still has his original Steiff button in his ear. 

A bear for children to cuddle up to on cold nights was expected to be a big seller, but factory records suggest only 90 were made between 1907 and 1914. It's nice to know that the £2000 this example raised in West London will again be keeping someone warm - the vendor can now get her roof repaired.

 

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