LONDON.-Christies will be offering one of the worlds largest and most comprehensive teddy bear collections when the contents of The Teddy Bear Museum, Stratford-upon-Avon are sold at Christies South Kensington on Wednesday 19 September 2007. Personally put together by British TV broadcaster and politician Gyles Brandreth, the collection comprises around 2,000 bears, including many extremely rare and valuable items such as the earliest bear in the sale, Growler, a much-sought-after Steiff rod-bear, circa 1904 (estimate: £8,000-12,000). The sale will also include props, sets, scenery and artefacts from the Museum displays.
When Gyles Brandreth and his wife Michele, opened the Museum on 4th July 1988, CBS News said, It's world famous and deserves to be! Of the decision to sell, Brandreth says: The Museum has been visited by a million people and has come of age. It's been voted by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport as one of the icons of England. Its now time for us to find new owners for this unique collection. Our children are all grown-up and my work commitments mean that I simply dont have the time to give the bears the care and attention they deserve. We want to find new owners for our bears who will love them as much as we do.
Highlights of the collection include a good selection of Steiff bears (estimates from £300- 8,000), rare British bears including a Deans Tru-to-Life American black bear (estimate: £1,000-1,500), and a Schuco automata shop display of a teddy bear and a monkey (estimate: £3,000-4,000). A good range of bears from all periods, countries and manufacturers include an amusing miniature mascot bear made during World War I for sweethearts and troops as a good luck token. This particular example was originally sold off a barrow in the Old Brompton Road where Christies South Kensington is now based, during the Great War. It was then later sold in these rooms and bought by Brandreth, and is now offered for the third time in South Kensington (estimate: £200- 300). Interestingly many of the bears feature in one of the most famous teddy bear reference books, The Teddy Bear Encyclopaedia by Pauline Cockerill and Michele Browns own book The Teddy Bear Hall of Fame.
A selection of bears which were loaned to the museum will also be lent by Brandreth to The Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, London, where they will be on permanent display to the public. These include the original Muppet Fozzie Bear and Paddington Bear both of which are the originals from their respective TV shows.