Ellen Tsagaris is the resident RJW Design Journal guest blogger. She has collected dolls since she was three years old. She has made dolls, priced dolls, repaired, dressed, and studied dolls and her blogging work can be found on the doll collecting section of about.com and on her personal doll blogs, Doll Museum, and Dr. E's Doll Museum blog. Ellen is a fan and collector of R. John Wright dolls and we were fortunate to have her guest blog for us about the love of bears.
Recently, a woman I’ve known many years decided to close her shop which sold Boyd’s Bears, Steiff, collectibles, and dolls. Wants N’ Wishes has been one of the best kept, but frequently visited secrets, in our local collecting community. The owner, Jo, is passionate and enthusiastic about her bears, but after 20+ years, it was time for her to retire and pursue other passions.
Bittersweet as this all is, I have been able to round out my teddy bear collection quite nicely. I think I have found every Boyd’s Bear and figurine I ever wanted, a few Wee Forest Folk, Patty Duke Bears, Russ, Ganz, and Annette Funicello. I found a Muffy VanderBear, and some Beanies that I had wanted for some time; I was in bear heaven. I think Marguerite Steiff and Peter Bull were smiling down on me. Many of my friends and family will also find surprises that are bear related this holiday season among their gifts.
This “bear fest” got me thinking on teddy bears and why they are special. Winne-the-Pooh was always on my list of favorite books, along with Paddington, and who can forget Mr. Bear of “The Lonely Doll” series. Bears are companions, and a comfort. They are satisfying to make, and to distribute. Bears are given to disaster victims for comfort, to those seriously ill, and for special occasions.
Back to the first legend surrounding their creation and to stories of Teddy Roosevelt himself, there is something about a teddy bear that makes it more than just a toy.
Bears, and other animals, become literary characters that make children want to read. Sometimes, the tales are fictional, like Maurice Sendak’s “Little Bear” or Richard Scarry’s tales. Corduroy’s adventures, “Goldy Locks and The Three Bears”, even Fozzie Bear and Yogi trip our imaginations and make us think about other life forms on the planet.
I know others will disagree as is their right, but I learned to respect animals and to love them through caring for my stuffed animals and bears, and by learning more about their live counterparts.
They made me want to visit places like Yellowstone, and wildlife preserves. Once, we even had a bear walk up to our car window while we were parked at Yellowstone. She went right up to my mother’s side window, and looked her straight in the eye. My dad teased her, saying it was “professional courtesy”, but after I read “The Clan of the Cave Bear”, I told her it was our totem.
Love for bears is universal, as the enthusiastic acclaim for RJW’s Winnie the Pooh shows. The original animals of A.A. Milne’s actually resided at 10 Downing Street. Larry Linville, who played Major Frank Burns on “MASH” was a teddy bear artist, and actor Peter Bull proved to be a real connoisseur. A current commercial features Steiff bears and animals, and RJW has created amazing example in his own collection.