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The Cullercoats Collection

The joy and companionship teddy bears provide could not be better illustrated than in the collection that will be offered at auction by Vectis in the auction on Tuesday 10th November.

The owner’s love of bruins was ignited in 1928 when ‘Big Teddy’ arrived as a Christmas present. Of unknown origins, he had unusual dark brown mohair, large feet with lighter coloured felt pads. ‘Big Teddy’ was a constant companion for the next 90 years.  He travelled, went to parties and exhibitions and of course needed a wardrobe of suitable clothing. As his closet expanded so did the hug of bears and he was joined each year by bruins of all shapes, sizes and origins. 1983 it was noted, was a vintage year with over 40 being added in that period alone.

Each addition was recorded and catalogued, some with photographs, sizes and a summary of labels, clothing or details of history before arrival. The interest also brought the owner into contact with other like-minded collectors as pen pals or visitors. She created a magical compendium with hand written notations, newspaper stories, letters from museums, magazine cuttings, postcards, postage stamps and pictures.

Many of the bears have a story all detailed in the scrap book, bears whish are featured in the scrap book are accompanied by a copy of their story.  

Pandas feature heavily in the collection, the first arrival was “’Big Panda’, soon followed by Chad Valley ‘Ming’ and ‘Big Panda’ plus a wonderful Merrythought vintage panda nightdress case with original ‘Reg.Des’ sewn label.

British teddy pioneer Wendy Boston was another favourite with example in white, pink, blue, brown and gold plus a variety of animals, pandas, gollies and even Basil Brush. There are some delightful and more unusual, harder to find examples such as the rabbits in Lot No. 126 and the white plush Wendy’s with blue eyes.

Paddington also appears in several guises as does Sooty, Winnie the Pooh, Alfonzo and Rupert.  Many of her pen friends, forwarded gifts, beary related of course and these feature in the sale too – pens, postcards, books, jewellery, badges, miniatures and rubber stamps among other things.  

Lakeland bears and their clothes are in abundance, to read more about these see the separate article.

There is no doubt the utter joy these bears and keepsakes brought to their owner and although there is a large quantity, all bears regardless of origin or value were treasured and loved. They will be offered in single and group lots. In addition to the journal, there is a catalogue of the bears and record cards with additional information.

The bears resided in an elegant Victoria villa in Cullercoats on the picturesque North East coast and had a wonderful and rich life. The journal chronicles their adventures and will be offered for sale in the same auction. Will you be able to help them to settle in somewhere new?

For more information please contact Joanne McDonald jo.mcdonald@vectis.co.uk or Kathy Taylor Kathy.taylor@vectis.co.uk on +44 (0) 1642 750616.

Merrythought "Captain", long pile golden mohair vintage teddy bear, British, 1930s, yellow celluloid button to shoulder (glued into position), white label embroidered in black MERRYTHOUGHT HYGIENIC TOYS MADE IN ENGLAND to sole of right foot, replacement amber and black glass eyes (glued into position), shaven muzzle, black vertically stitched nose with longer drop stitching to either side, fully jointed (left leg is sewn into position and arm joints have restricted movement), felt pads (some small holes), black webbed claw stitching to paw pads, black claw stitching to feet, inoperative press squeaker, mohair is thinning overall, with balding to torso and left arm, glue stain around button, Fair, 12"/31cm. NB: The vendor stated: "Captain" 12" Long pile gold 'mohair' fur. Head and legs are still well covered- nose clipped. Body very worn and shows extensive repair (he may have been attacked by a dog before I got him). Head firmly stuffed and body filled with sawdust mixture when I got him from Mrs Bucas in 1979 he only had stitched eyes... He needs his red jersey to cover his thin and damaged body.
Estimate: £60 - £80 Sold For: £60
Farnell "Jumble" golden mohair vintage teddy bear, British, 1930s, amber and black glass eyes, shaven muzzle, black vertically stitched nose, fully jointed (left leg has restricted movement- sewn into position), inoperative replacement press squeaker, leatherette pads, mohair worn and faded overall, and balding especially to head, Fair to Fair Plus, 14"/36cm. NB: The vendor stated: "Jumble" 14" Faded and worn originally gold mohair fur. Long body and long arms, rather small head with long nose. Original glass eyes and embroidered nose. Slight hump. Head stuffed hard, body and limbs kapok filled. Hands curve forwards, leatherette pads.... He wears a blue flecked tweed jacket. "Jumble" was bought at the Tennis Club jumble sale held in the old St Georges Church Hall in John Street in October 1962. I bought him because I felt sorry for him and he had such a nice face. Mary Pugh said that he had been Stuart's bear (Stuart was then about 12). But on reflection I think he is older than that and may have been Mary's own bear, perhaps in the 1930s.
Estimate: £60 - £100 Sold For: £100
"Calvert", American vintage golden mohair teddy bear, c 1921, replacement amber and black glass eyes (right eye is loose), black horizontally stitched nose, fully jointed, replacement felt pads, black claw stitching, inoperative tilt growler, mohair worn and faded, Good, 21"/53cm. NB: The vendor stated: "Calvert" 21" Fully jointed faded golden mohair fur. Long shaped black stitched nose. Replacement glass eyes (a little larger than originals). Felt pads (replaced) with 5 claws on each paw. He has a small hump. Non functioning voice box. He wears a finely knitted suit in light green and yellow and the purple ribbon tie he had for Christmas in 1974. His brooch is Misha, the official mascot of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. "Calvert" arrived for Christmas in 1974. He was a present from my friend Dorothy. She had him since 1921, so he was 53 years old. I replaced his eyes (his one remaining glass eye was smaller than the modern glass replacements). He lost his eye when he went onstage at the Priory Theatre Club some years previously. I also renewed his worn felt pads. His light green and yellow jersey was bought at the end of a Jumble sale- it is beautifully knitted but no one had wanted it (at North View).
Estimate: £100 - £140 Sold For: £100
Chad Valley "Ming" vintage panda bear, British, 1939, black and white mohair / wool plush, white label with blue embroidered HYGIENIC TOYS MADE IN ENGLAND BY CHAD VALLEY CO LTD to sole of right foot, there has been a square "Queen" label (removed) to left foot (there is evidence of stitch marks), amber and black glass eyes with white outer edges, inset wool plush muzzle, black horizontally stitched nose, fully jointed, with tear drop shaped down-turned paw pads, inoperative press squeaker, some slight wear to mohair and felt pads, otherwise Good Plus to Excellent, 20"/51cm. NB: On Christmas Eve, 1938 London Zoo had an arrival of five giant pandas. They were so popular that the British soft toy industry manufactured many panda bears. The vendor stated: "Ming" is 20" tall, she is fully jointed, very well marked and made in black and white mohair which is in very good condition. She has glass eyes with white pieces at each side. Her eyes are the same as "Big Panda's" and they both have the same type of stitched nose. Ming's fur is however clipped shorter around her nose.
Estimate: £100 - £200 Sold For: £150
Merrythought vintage panda bear nightdress case, British, 1939, with unusual white (embroidered in black) registered design label - REGD. DES. No. 833901, clear glass eyes with black pupils and remains of brown painted backs and white outer edges, black vertically stitched nose, unjointed, reverse cloth pads, Excellent, 16"/41cm long. NB: On Christmas Eve, 1938 London Zoo had an arrival of five giant pandas. They were so popular that the British soft toy industry manufactured many panda bears.
Estimate: £100 - £140 Sold For: £150
Chad Valley "Big Panda" vintage panda bear, British, 1939, black and white wool plush, white label with blue embroidered HYGIENIC TOYS MADE IN ENGLAND BY CHAD VALLEY CO LTD to upper right inside leg, amber and black glass eyes with white outer edges, black horizontally stitched nose, unjointed (arm stitching (where arms are attached to body) is loose), with tear drop shaped down-turned paw pads, inoperative press squeaker, wear overall to wool plush and felt pads, otherwise Good to Good Plus, 13"/51cm (seated). NB: On Christmas Eve, 1938 London Zoo had an arrival of five giant pandas. They were so popular that the British soft toy industry manufactured many panda bears. The vendor stated: Another family 'bear' was "Big Panda". He belonged to my sister soon after the first baby Giant Panda "Ming" came to London Zoo in 1938. Heather would have been about 8 years old at the time. I was older and given a Beswick pottery panda. These must have been among the first panda toys and ornaments to be made in England.
Estimate: £100 - £150 Sold For: £130
The main Cullercoats scrapbook, detailing the life and times of the teddy bears whilst they spent decades with the vendors' aunt and grandma. Some of the bears have been retained by the family, whilst the majority are within the sale today. There are photographs and hand-written notes, detailing their travels and pastimes. There is a separate section on Pandas- they were favourites! NB: This collection represents a generation that wrote letters and kept every scrap of what was precious, in a post-war society brought up to "make do and mend". Pen friends opened up the world in a similar but far slower paced fashion than today's social internet networking. Many friends shared a passion for teddy bears. The gentle times past reflected in these scrap books, notes, letters and memories are a fascinating insight into relatively recent but bygone social history.
Estimate: £20 - £40 Sold For: £160