NEW YORK – The first teddy bear was inspired by an encounter President Theodore Roosevelt had with a live bear cub while on a hunting trip in 1902. The incident prompted toymakers to produced cuddly stuffed bears. The German version of the teddy bear was made about the same time by the Steiff company. Nearly 200 lots of Steiff teddy bears and animals are offered in a Jasper52 online auction that will be held Wednesday, Feb. 20. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
Since 1880, Steiff has been making plush toys and collectibles that set the world standard for quality. Many of the items in the auction are modern limited-edition collectibles such as the 1993 Ralph Lauren Polo Varsity Fifth Avenue bear (above). This 13-inch mohair bear was designed to celebrate the opening of Ralph Lauren’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York.
Another advertising piece commissioned by Ralph Lauren is the Chairman of the Board bear made by Steiff in 1992. The dapper bear (below), which is in near-mint condition, comes in a Ralph Lauren round box.
Steiff celebrated its centennial in 1980 by producing a replica of its original 1903 “Papa” teddy bear. The 17¼-inch-tall bear has black button eyes, and a nose and mouth stitched with black floss.
An original Steiff teddy bear issued in 1983 is in white mohair and has glass eyes. The fully-jointed 20-inch-tall bear was made in West Germany.
Steiff has made wheeled pull toys in a variety of sizes through the years. An 8-inch-tall Steiff “Rattler Bear Cub” on wooden wheels from 1973 in among the auction menagerie.
Also featured is Steiff’s 1986 Alice & Her Friends Limited Edition Set of 3,000. Made and signed by Suzanne Gibson, the group consists of the 12-inch-tall Alice and her Wonderland characters: the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse and the White Rabbit. They have never been out of the original box and will be mailed in the original box.
The Jasper52 auction of Steiff toys and collectibles will be conducted Wednesday, Feb. 20, starting at 6 p.m.