Soldier bears: A piece of Remembrance Day history to buy at auction11 November 2019 A set of ‘soldier bears’ available at auction next month comes with a story worthy of Remembrance Day.
They were made by JK Farnell & Co, the first British toy company to manufacture teddy bears. This set is the type known as Campbell Bears, which were manufactured from 1914-20 and given by wives and girlfriends to soldiers when they went to war – hence the nickname ‘soldier bears’.
Made with red, white or blue mohair fur, these little bears have upturned noses that would stick out of soldiers’ breast pockets as a good-luck charm or reminder of sweethearts at home.
Halls’ Auctioneers offers a set of these bears on December 11 with an estimate of more than £1000.
“The set we have was originally part of a very large collection owned by twins David and Guy Campbell who were born in Devon in 1910,” says David Lewis of Halls. “Despite costing a shilling each in 1924, their aunt bought them 50 for Christmas.
“As other boys played with toy soldiers these two had serried ranks of miniature teddy bears. Thankfully both survived their time as soldiers during the Second World War, but they are known to have taken one of the bears with them.”
David served as a machine gunner and was captured in May 1940. A German officer rescued and returned the little mascot to stay with the Brit for three years in Laufen POW camp. He and his brother both earned Military Crosses, later fighting together in the Korean War.
Their personal bears are now in the Puppenhausmuseum (Dollhouse Museum) in Basel, Switzerland.
View and bid for the JK Farnell & Co Campbell bears (‘soldier bears’) on thesaleroom.com.