London, South Kensington
4 December 2006
A very rare, large and early Steiff display teddy bear
with apricot mohair, boot button eyes, centre-seam, pronounced cone nose, black stitched nose, mouth and claws, swivel head, jointed elongated limbs with felt pads, hump, blank button with remains of white tag and large heavy studded leather collar with padlock, circa 1906 --45in. (114.5cm.) high (various bald spots including on nose, right hip and right foot, ankles split a repaired, staining to feet pads, some fading)
The bear originally belonged to the vendors Great Grandfather, Frederick V. Chipman, Sr. The owner has not been able to find out where and/or how he acquired this bear. In his possession the bear sat on display in his small shoe store, this was believed to be in the town of Roxbury, Massachusetts. The bear was also on display in a few town parades, which was very popular with the locals. Frederick V. Chipman, Sr. retired the bear from the public and as a surprise gave the bear to his young children, the vendors Grandfather, Frederick V. Chipman Jr. and her Great Aunt Priscilla Chipman. In the morning before the children awoke, he tied a string to Aunt Priscillas toe. Upon waking to find this string she woke her brother, who shared the same bedroom, curious as to what this string was they had to follow it out of the room, down a hall and into another room where the bear was sitting awaiting their discovery.
The children were not allowed to really play with the bear. He only came out on special occasions, such as Christmas and other holidays. So the tradition started that the children in the family would have a chance to see and briefly touch the bear on these occasions. As the years went by Great Aunt Priscilla is the one who became the bears custodian. The vendor remember as a child going to her house, as they often did, and asking if her and her brother could see the bear, it was always a special treat.
During the Great Aunts later years, knowing the vendors love for teddy bears, she gave him to her. He has been in her care for about 20 years.
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This size of bear appears in a number of period photographs and adverts of the 1908-10 period, see Button in ear, Jürgen & Marianne Cieslik, page 45, fig.102 and page 73, fig.184.
This is the largest size of Steiff teddy bear available and is very rare from this early period, the only other known example was sold in these rooms December 2003.
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium
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