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The Joan Donachie Teddy Bear Collection

15th Jan 2019

Very special bruins, from a very special lady, to be sold at Vectis.

You would be hard pressed to come across anyone who was more passionate about teddy bears than Joan Donachie. Her quaint cottage, nestled in Barmill, near Troon held a treasury of furry friends in all shapes and sizes; from exquisite early Steiff, Chad Valley and Terrys, Chilterns, Pedigrees and Merrythought to more modern Steiff limited editions, mohair miniatures, Russ, Gantz and TY Beanies. Joan’s collecting was all inclusive, she purchased what she fell in love with regardless of heritage.

Joan would enjoy nothing better than visiting a small rural auction house to discover a hidden gem of a bear, nestled between Maling vases and Venetian glass. The auction houses affectionately referred to her as the ‘Bear Lady’ and were so confident that they often asked Joan to help identify bears and dolls that they could not. Rising early, Joan spent hours trudging around car boots to add to her growing collection. She was a well-known face at the Scottish bear fairs such as Edinburgh and Troon, always visiting with one of her beary companions.

Sadly in 2018 Joan lost her battle with cancer, it was her wish that the collection was to be enjoyed by other collectors. It is to be sold in two parts, starting with the sale on Tuesday 29th January 2019.

It is difficult to select a few highlights from the group as there are so many –

Lot 4505 ‘Campbell’, was Joan’s first vintage Steiff and can be seen in the photograph of her. Joan never thought she would be lucky enough ever to own such a wonderful vintage Steiff, you can see the pleasure he gave her in the image. He often accompanied Joan to bear fairs and had a special place in her heart.

Lot 4506 ‘Capt. Munro’ is an aristocratic ted who has fallen on hard times. An early, large, centre Seam Steiff, his rich dark cinnamon mohair is thinning in places and when Joan adopted him he had no nose. This was soon rectified by Joan’s husband who provided him his distinctive quirky expression. He has a wealth of character.

Lot 4504 ‘Cosette’ a delicate early white, Steiff muzzle bear c1908 - 1917, dressed in a simple cotton shift dress edged with lace. It is rare to have such a bear intact as often the leather muzzles were removed by concerned parents or they have deteriorated over the decades.

Lot 4579 ‘Bluey’ is a Deans Rag Book ted from the 1930’s. These mouse eared designs are extremely popular, and the soft blue hue to the mohair is exceptional. He retains his sewn label to his felt pads and wears a sensitive expression.

Lot 4508 ‘Terrance’ a cheeky early British W J Terry bears c1920’s in golden mohair, he retains his warm brown painted back glass eyes and sports a dashing turquoise diamante collar.

Lot 4557 ‘Bowie’ is a vibrant blue Chad Valley complete with 1930’s button to his ear and label to his foot. Supremely confident he is sure to stand out in any collection.

Lot 4601 ‘Max’ is an early American bear probably by Bruin Manufacturing Co. (BMC). He has rich chocolate mohair with black boot button eyes and a wealth of memories.

Lot 4485 ‘Soldier Bob’ is a delightful WWI pocket bear with chenille ears and tiny bead eyes.

Lot 4602 ‘Lily’ is a beautiful early American bear in white mohair with soft pink claw stitching.

Lot 4621 ‘Elle’ is a wonderful early and rare Steiff somersaulting elephant, (Serie 95 20, Art 9323) c1909-1910 with the Steiff underscored ‘f’ button and remains of the white tag to his ear.

Lot 4600 ‘Hungry Horace’ is a rare Commonwealth Toy & Novelty Co ‘Feed Me’ teddy from the USA. Made in 1937 these teds were used by The National Biscuit Co to advertise their animal crackers. The bears mouth is opened by a pull at the back of his head and he can then be fed, once full he can be relieved of his food via a zip opening in his mohair. Originally these bruins were sold with a bib and lunch box but these are almost always lost over the years.

There is an abundance of British bears, characters such as Toffee, Cheeky, Paddington and Wellie bears. Some are dressed including a Twyford in full Scottish regalia and Prudence in fur trimmed coat and muff. There are a delightful set of small Chad Valley twins, Hugmee, Magna’s and more. Jean Claude and Pierre are a couple of swells who have seen better days but have an infinite number of stories to tell. Jean Claude has the zaniest of expressions, he takes great pride in carrying his dear friend Pierre as he has a distinct lack of limbs….

A menagerie of animals resided with Joan too, with a large number of dogs, particularly terriers in all shapes and sizes. There is a magnificent ISSA terrier (Lot 4634) plus a breath taking Einco ‘Mike’ dog (see article Lot 4633). Also superb cats, monkeys, elephants and more.

Part of this huge collection was sold at Vectis in the first Teddy Bear and Doll Sale on Tuesday 29th January 2019. For more information contact Joanne McDonald on jo.mcdonald@vectis.co.uk or Kathy Taylor on Kathy.taylor@vectis.co.uk

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