The Steiff teddy bear c.1906 sold at Special Auction Services for £10,500.

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Teddy was the childhood toy of the Coghill seven daughters, all pictured here on an occasion thought to mark the birthday of their grandmother Helen Coghill (1834-1918).


The c.1906 Steiff teddy bear sold by Special Auction Services for £10,500 pictured with the Coghill family in 1914.

Family history says that the bear was brought from the US in 1907 and played with by Nellie (1892-1971), Nina (1897-1982), Jessie Florence (1904-94), Louise (1906-84), Agnes (1908-2002), Marion (1910-79) and Nancy (1911-84).

Teddy remained in the family for 87 years with Florence, who then decided to sell him to raise money for the Wick Parish Church Fund, at which point it was realised he was valuable and a cousin decided to buy him for a four-figure sum.

It was this cousin who later consigned Teddy to Special Auction Services (25% buyer’s premium) of Newbury.

‘Lovely condition’

The centre-seam bear, with cinnamon mohair, black boot button eyes, pronounced clipped muzzle, black stitched nose, mouth and claws, swivel head, jointed elongated limbs with felt pads, card lined feet, hump, body part soft stuffed and blank button in ear, measured 2ft 4in (71cm) high.

Estimated at £4000-6000 in the Dolls & Teddy Bears Auction, it took £10,500 on November 15.

Special Auction Services toys expert Daniel Agnew said: “He was sold to a room bidder, a UK private Steiff collector. But we had lots of interest in him – he had everything going for him: large, lovely condition, family provenance, the desirable centre-seam down the middle of the head and blank button, as well as huge appeal.”

Early example

It was a very early example: Richard Steiff designed a toy bear made of mohair called Bear 55PB in 1902, just four years earlier or so, the world’s first toy bear with jointed arms and legs, after starting at his Aunt Margarete’s company.

According to the Steiff company (still going today): “Inspired by American President Theodore Roosevelt, the initially nameless bear received its name Teddy.

“Roosevelt refused to shoot a tethered bear during a hunting trip. The incident was captured by cartoonist Clifford K Berryman and published in the Washington Post.

“This was the best publicity for our Teddy bear – the teddy boom began and the Steiff brand achieved worldwide recognition.”

The 35 PB and the 28 PB followed and the famous button in the ear was also introduced in 1904, embossed with the elephant logo (to deter the vast numbers of cheap imitations and to make the company’s own products unmistakable).

The name Teddy Bear was officially used by Steiff in 1906.