Polar bear soft toy (Steiff)
Polar bear soft toy (Steiff)The story of "Polar the Titanic Bear", and the Museum's rare original Steiff polar bear (i)
|Arch Four , Area 34 |
Cuddly Toys (display)
A rare Steiff "Polar Bear" soft toy, made in Germany, from around 1910.
When the RMS Titanic sailed on her ill-fated maiden voyage in 1913, two of the passengers were Daisy Spedden and her son, clutching his beloved Steiff polar bear. Both of them survived the disaster (with the bear), and when they got back ot the United states, Daisy wrote a childrens'book about the experience, as seen through the eyes of the bear, as a way fo helping her son to make sense of the experience that they'd been through.
Tragically, the boy died a few years later in a car accident, and the book was put away into Daisy's loft.
The book was recovered in the 1990s and published (as "Polar the Titanic Bear"), and soon became an educational best-seller, as schools used it to show a historical event in terms that were easy to understand for small children.
The success of the book then caused a resurgence of interest in the old polarbear design, prompting Steiff to reissue a modern version of the bear.
The Museum's rather worn much-hugged Steiff polar bear is one of the 1910-era originals. We've searched online for others, and while there must be some in private collections, it's difficult to find any record of them. The last time we looked, there was a skeleton of a 1910 Polar Bear on display in the Steiff Museum, but no indication that they have a fully-clothed 1910 version (as opposed to the reissue).
One of the questions that people keep asking us about the Spedden story is: What happened to the bear?
Some people think that the bear might have been buried with the child, but there are rumours that perhaps it's in a bank vault somewhere. If so, then that's the only other one that we know of.
9th March 2016: another Steiff polar bear has turned up and is going to be auctioned in May.