The teddy bear, that adorable 20th century icon and everyone’s favorite childhood soft toy, has an enviable pedigree. Inspired into popular teddy bears over a hundred decades back by no less than a former President of the USA in America, and almost simultaneously in Germany, teddy bears proceeded to capture the public imagination as no other stuffed toy has ever done so far. It was eminently cuddly, endearing and reassuring. Little wonder than nearly everybody, from distinguished statesmen to the kid in the neighbourhood clamoured for one.
Were you aware that in 1985, London’s auction house Christies maintained its first-ever auction of old teddy bears? Teddy bears are, without doubt, everybody’s favourite stuffed animal.
Here are some of the all-time favorites:
1. Winnie the Pooh / Pooh Bear
Winnie the Pooh is possibly among the most famous bears ever. He’s a fictional character created by A.A Milne, a highly regarded author and playwright. His arrival has an intriguing story…
During a regular halt of a train transporting soldiers out of Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) to eastern Canada through the WWI, in White River, Ontario, a young lieutenant Harry Colebourn bought a tiny female black bear cub in the man who’d only shot its mommy. The orphan was named’Winnipeg’, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and shortened to’Winnie’.
In December 1919, Colebourn introduced the London Zoo with Winnie in which it quickly became a huge attraction. The London Zoo became Winnie’s house until she died in 1934.
Christopher Robin, son of writer A.A. Milne, used to appreciate this little, black bear and had nicknamed his own stuffed bear’Winnie’. It was his son’s fascination for this bear that prompted Milne to compose a whole series of books about Winnie the Pooh. Incidentally, the name of Pooh originally belonged into a swan.
Today, children’s toy shops are dominated by Pooh paraphernalia. There are Winnie-the-Pooh bears, clothes, bedding, animated cartoons, and even web sites.
2. Paddington Bear
A classic among children’s literature, Paddington Bear has been charming children of all ages since it was first created with a British writer, Michael Bond, in 1958.
Bond chanced upon a teddy bear sitting somewhat forlornly onto a shelf in a store near Paddington Station in London in 1956. Something about this solitary monster caught Bond’s imagination and he soon penned the first book known as’A Bear Called Paddington’. This cute little bear is really an immigrant who hailed from Darkest Peru. He hid himself on the lifeboat of a ship and arrived in England, according to his Aunt Lucy who had reared him up to now.
This tiny bear immediately endeared himself to its young (and not-so-young) readers with his old hat, battered suitcase, duffle jacket and love of marmalade sandwiches. Although he had a talent for getting into trouble, he also had an almost-human sense of right and no way and shunned wild adventures.
The first Paddington Bear soft toy was made in 1972 by Gabrielle Designs, a small business run by Shirley and Eddie Clarkson. It was Shirley Clarkson who gave youthful Paddington his signature Wellington boots to assist the bear stand upright.