(Caption - Leyla holding Elliot, 1993.)
In 1993 Leyla Maniera, Christie's teddy bear specialist, came up with the idea of putting together the world's first international auction devoted to teddy bears. There had been a growing interest in teddy bears and Christie's had been offering them regularly as part of it's doll auctions and the time seemed right to offer collectors a specialised sale.
Olivia Bristol, the department head, had recently met a client who owned 'Elliot', a blue Steiff teddy bear and he was to form the centrepiece of this first auction. No one could have predicted the success of the sale with Elliot selling for a stunning #49,500. The sale became the first of Christie's annual teddy bear auctions.
The following year, in an emotional sale, 'Teddy Girl' the prized teddy bear of Colonel Bob Henderson, broke the world auction record price for a teddy bear at #110,000 - a record that still stands today.
Other memorable highlights since 1993 have been Teddy Edward, Peter Bull's Theodore, the black Steiff sold in 2001, the Strunz Jester, Pat and Nora and many other now familiar faces.
This year sees Christie's tenth anniversary of the December teddy bear sale, which have been held in May/June and December since 1999. We are looking forward to the next ten years of sales and discovering many more rare and wonderful bears.
Teddy Bear Specialist
The History of the Teddy Bear
(Caption - Teddy Girl, 1994 (110,000 - $171,600)
The Teddy Bear has been hailed as the world's most sought after toy for the past 100 years and there appears to be no end to its popularity. No other toy has managed to captivate and mesmerise generations of both adults and children as much as the beloved teddy bear that celebrates its Centenary in 2002.
Credit for the phenomenon of the Teddy Bear is the subject of much controversy as various different versions exist of how the teddy bear success story evolved. The German version begins in 1897, when Richard Steiff joined his aunt's toy company, Steiff. His job was to concentrate almost exclusively on designing and producing soft-filled toys. At this point bears played a relatively minor role in the company's production. They were offered on iron wheels as pull-toys, dancing bears on a chain, or simply standing bears. After visiting an animal circus in October 1902, Richard was inspired by their performance at the circus, which spurred on the design of a group of animals with jointed limbs and life-like movements similar to those of a doll. This group of animals included a bear, which appeared for the first time at the 1903 Leipzig Spring Trade Fair.
The American version of the birth of the teddy bear tells of Morris Michtom's (the Ideal Toy Company's founder) inspiration on seeing a cartoon by Clifford Berryman of President Roosevelt's encounter with a bear in November 1902. His wife stitched a loveable jointed bear and the couple displayed their creation in the window of their small store in Brooklyn, New York. Michtom then wrote to 'Teddy' Roosevelt to elicit his permission to name the animal Teddy's Bear.
The Teddy Bear became a household name due to the link established between the toy and Theodore Roosevelt, known as Teddy to his friends. After the much publicised Berryman cartoon showing Roosevelt refusing to shoot a tethered bear cub, Roosevelt adopted the bear as his campaign mascot. The bear rapidly became a huge success; Steiff alone sold 1 million bears in 1907.
The Teddy Bear has developed and changed over the 100 years of production, but still remains the one toy many children hold on to well into their adult lives.
A rare Merrythought Bingie Grenadier Guardsman
with golden-tipped blonde mohair head and hands, pronounced muzzle, black stitched nose, mouth and claws, orange and black glass eyes, white artificial-silk lined ears, swivel head, jointed limbs, brushed cotton body, original felt costume with brass buttons, black mohair busby, button in ear and label on foot --15in. (38cm.) high, circa 1935 (missing shoes and belt, some fading to tunic and mohair)