Illeene's Teddy Bear - 114 Years of Adventures!
A 114-year-old teddy bear that has survived two World Wars, ‘served’ in Military Missions and became a muse for Winston Graham!
The Steiff teddy bear was presented to Ileene Ruth Smith on her 7th birthday on the 4th of October 1908. He was to remain with her for the rest of her life. Other than his name, there was to be nothing unremarkable about Ted who has led adventurous life so far. He was Ileene’s companion during the first World War and watched as neighbours and friends went off to fight, some returning and some sadly lost.
With the outbreak of World
War 2, Ileene with Ted moved to London taking up an extremely important role in
the War Ministry, working in a team organising the North Atlantic
convoys. London was a hive of activity, but also the target of mighty air
attacks. Ileene, accompanied by Ted spent many nights in air raid shelters
listening to the air raid siren, followed by the barrage of bombs.
It was also at this time that Ted helped Ileene cope with a terrible loss in her life. She had met, feel in love with and become engaged to a Fighter Pilot serving with the RAF. He bravely defended the UK on a number of missions against the large-scale attacks from the German Luftwaffe. Tragically he was shot down and killed alongside 1542 other service personnel during the battle of Britain in October 1940.
After the War Ileene and Ted moving in with her maternal Grandparents who ran a guest house called ‘Trevaylor’ on St Michaels Road in Perranporth, Cornwall. Their closest neighbour and friend living in the large house opposite called ‘Nampara’. This neighbour was being the celebrated author Winston Graham who, during the time there penned the Poldark series. Graham set this drama in the place he loved, Cornwall, retelling tales of pirate battles and the struggles in the late 1700s. It was subsequently made into two television series firstly in 1975, returning in 2015 to much acclaim. Could Ted even have been the inspiration behind the strong and handsome Ross Poldark with his melting looks and soft romantic curls?
Although she lived in picturesque Cornwall, Ileene loved to travel in the UK and Europe and when allowed, Ted travelled with her as her constant companion. Ileene never married, but continued to work in the guest house with Ted being her constant companion until her death. Ted was bequeathed to her only niece, pictured in the photographs with Ileene.
Laterly, Ted has settled into more sedate life after his adventures, but always had a twinkle in his eye. Sadly, Ileene’s Niece too passed away this year during the Covid pandemic.
The family have decided that the rare cinnamon German Steiff teddy bear is ready for a new journey. After being a childhood playmate, a distinguished military career and marauding with reprobates and pirates, whatever could be next for Ted?
Ted is to be auctioned at Vectis alongside his history and photographs on Tuesday 5th of October 2021. Lot no.
484, he has a pre- sale estimate of £800 - £1200.