Estimate: £7,000 - £10,000
Sold For: £10,400
A pair of rod bears, Germany, circa 1904,
together two mohair teddy bears, one white and the other golden, both jointed with metal rods, with hump back, long limbs, seam from ear to ear, black boot button eyes, protruding shaved snouts (with stitching and remains of gutter percha nose), card-lined felt pads, and paws with black stitching, golden bear with .75" remains of thick thread stitched to tummy (at one time attaching paper tag?), left foot of white bear with outline hand-stitching where fabric label previously attached (retailer's label or child's name tag?), some minimal threadbare areas, golden bear with pad on right foot worn with some loss and small hole to pad on left foot, neither bear with ear button, height of each 41cm (16ins), together with a copy of The Roosevelt Bears, Their Travels and Adventures, by Seymour Eaton, Philadelphia: Edward Stern & Company, 1st edition, 1906, contents becoming loose in original pictorial boards, rubbed and some wear to extremities, 4to
Provenance: given when new to the current owner's grandfather, George W. Elkins (1903-1966), and thence by descent. George Elkins was the only child of Eleanor Pollock Glass and Port Brommell Elkins, who was an inventor and innovator, the first person to use reinforced concrete in industrial buildings in Boston. They lived in Pittsburgh and travelled widely. The current owner's parents met in Helensburgh during their teens, and that is how the bears came to live in the UK, following the decease of their original owner. The bears were known in the family as Teddy B and Teddy G after the duo in Seymour Eaton's famous storybook 'The Roosevelt Bears' (the original owner's copy of the book accompanies the lot). Steiff's very first fully jointed teddy bear, produced in 1902, had string jointing, but none are believed to be in existence today. They were followed by a brief period (1904-1905) in which bears were made with rod jointing, before disk jointing was perfected to give the bears their moving limbs, a method which is still used today. As is well known, Steiff toys were given a button in the ear - although they are often now missing - as well, apparently, as a paper chest tag, which seldom survives. The metal button is first known to have been used in 1904, but the device wasn't registered as a trademark until May 1905. It may perhaps be that our pair of bears are two of the earliest, which had only a paper tag, before the button became universally used (although we have not been able to confirm this). Nevertheless, rod bears are rare, and the appearance of not one, but a pair of such teddy bears at auction, which have been in the same family since new, is an exceptional occurrence. Their well-preserved condition makes them additionally unusual; the original child owner travelled extensively with his parents, and the bears were often left behind, and so were not played with as much as they might have been. The current owner remembers not being allowed to handle them as a child, and for some years they have been confined to an old trunk. In all appearance early Steiff bears, a visit to the local vet confirmed the metal rod construction inside each bear, and a copy of the resulting x-ray is available to the bears' new owner. We would like to express our thanks to Bunny Campione for assistance in researching this lot.