Rare Steiff Teddy Bear Somersaults Into The Saleroom

18th May 2022

A rare and early Steiff somersaulting teddy bear from a Worcestershire home has found its way to auction and is expected to make heads turn when he goes under the gavel in Bamfords 14th June Specialist Classic Toy, Juvenalia and Memories of Childhood auction.

The German toy manufacture Steiff was founded in 1880 by Appolonia Margarete Steiff who was born on 24th July 1847 in Giengen. Unfortunately at a young age Margarete contracted Polio which left her paralysed, this meant she spent most her life in a wheelchair. In 1866 she became a seamstress and dressmaker and in 1877 she had opened her own dressmaking shop in her home town. It is believed that the very first Steiff creations were miniatures that were made in felt and included an Elephant which to this day has symbolised the trademark of this famous brand.

In 1897 Margarete's nephew Richard Steiff joined the business after completing his academic studies at Stuttgart Art School and in 1902 Richard Steiff created a string-jointed mohair teddy bear which was named Bär 55 PB.

This much-loved teddy bear is believed to have always been owned by the same Worcestershire family and has been passed down generations has now found its way to auction. The original owner is thought to be Catherine (Kitty) Dawes who was born in 1897 in Overbury, Worcestershire. Kitty Dawes then passed the Steiff teddy bear down to her son Reverend Julian Edward Dawes who was born in 1927, he went on to become the Vicar of Overbury and Cropthorne in Worcestershire. Julian gifted the teddy bear to his eldest daughter Lone Marie Grove in the 1970's and the teddy bear has been part of the Grove family ever since. 

Since being part of the Grove family the Steiff teddy bear has been a companion to four children Annabel, Ed, Will and Biff. He has lived high on a shelf above the staircase of an old farmhouse in Bretforton, Worcestershire. He was only allowed down to perform his tricks on high days and holidays, which probably explains his remarkable condition. 

Sean Devitt, Toy Auctioneer and Valuer of Bamfords said "This is a remarkable and rare find. This wonderful 1909 Steiff teddy bear which is now 113 years old has not only survived two World Wars but has been loved and cared for by several generations of the same family who lived in Worcestershire".

"This unusual and quirky model doesn't come up onto the open market very often and can be very popular with Steiff collectors and fans, he is in such wonderful condition and still retains his trademark 'Steiff' button to ear and has a very good mohair coverage overall".

"I believe this teddy bear will not only appeal to Teddy Bear collectors but may appeal to collectors who collect Automata and Mechanical Toys and should attract bidding from collectors here in the United Kingdom and overseas".

The rare Steiff somersaulting teddy bear, Lot 3273 will be offered in Bamfords Auctioneers 14th June Classic Toy, Juvenalia and Memories of Childhood auction at The Derby Auction House, Chequers Road, Derby DE21 6EN with an auction estimate of £1,000 - £1,500.

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