Leading the sale at Special Auction Services (20% buyer’s premium) in Newbury on June 8 was a very rare Steiff ‘hot-water’ bottle bear c.1907.
It retained the original tin canister with screw cap at each end that, filled with water, could be inserted into the bear and secured by a lace fastening and was sold with an old leather suitcase in which it had been stored for many years. A tag inside read: Mrs Marshall and EJ Marshall, 47 Croft Lane, Bromborough, Wirral, Cheshire. The vendor had inherited it and two other toys from his grandmother.
It is estimated that between 1907-14 only 90 of these rarities were made by Steiff. They may have been expensive to produce and priced too highly in the market.
Specialist Daniel Agnew had sold three in the past: the first at Christie’s South Kensington in 2002 (£28,000), the second at (also CSK) made £26,000 in 2006 and was later resold for £16,200 while more recently SAS sold an example in 2014 for £12,500. The most recent example was estimated at £6000- 8000 and got away at the lower end of expectations.
Humpty Dumpty as Martian
The same suitcase included a Chad Valley model of Bonzo, c.1920, (£270) and another Steiff rarity: the 12in (28cm) Man from Mars or Humpty Dumpty soft toy, c.1912-13.
The character Humpty Dumpty, created by Lewis Carroll for his 1892 Alice Through the Looking Glass, was under copyright, so Steiff named its version Man from Mars. The felt version of the toy does appear from time to time, but this mohair version is believed to be the first offered at auction.
The hammer price was £2800.