A cuddly collection of teddy bears worth £1.2million is to go under the hammer.
The 1,300 soft toys, including a ‘harlequin’ teddy valued at about £100,000, left auctioneers who visited the collectors’ house stunned.
The menagerie of bears, rabbits, cats, dogs, monkeys, elephants, lions and frogs – all made by famous German toy company Steiff – was stored in cabinets and on shelves and beds in the US home.
Daniel Agnew, of Christie’s, which is to sell the items in London, said: ‘This is by far the best toy auction there has ever been and contains toys well over 100 years old and in fine condition. ‘The vendors started collecting the toys purely out of nostalgia but they became very serious and dedicated.’
Among the lots are a 1910 hot water bottle bear worth more than £30,000, and Mickey Mouse figures for between £5,000 and £15,000 each. It is thought the mohair harlequin bear could break the £110,000 world record price for a teddy.
Made as a one-off experimental piece in 1944 by a Steiff employee, its head and arms swivel but over the years it has lost its ‘growl’ mechanism which was activated by turning it upside down.
Steiff is among the most popular toy companies in the world and is famed for its hand-made, stuffed and stitched teddies.
The items date back as far as the 1890s, soon after Steiff went into business and a few years before the first teddy was made in 1902.
The auction is in South Kensington on October 13.