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Teddy bear

Teddy bear

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    1904-1908 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Margarete Steiff GmbH (makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hand sewn mohair, kapok, wool

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lionel Hemsley

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This early Steiff bear originally belonged to the donor's mother who was born in 1901. The donor, Lionel Hemsley (b. 1932), and his elder sister, Coral (b.1931), were allowed to play with the bear when they were children. In about 1936-37, Lionel performed an 'operation' on the bear, he sewed the 'wound' up with red wool. He couldn't recall precisely why he had cut it open, but thought it might have been to access the bear's growler, which now does not work. Very pleasingly, Hemsley spent his career in venterinary medicine.

Physical description

Teddy bear, jointed at shoulders, hips and neck, made from golden mohair and stuffed with kapok. The bear has a short forehead, small ears and a prominent snout, the nose has been re-embroidered with black thread. On its back it has a prominent hump. It has long limbs, the stuffing has been squashed or removed from the tops of the arms and legs so they are now loose. The neck is also quite baggy, causing the head to fall to the bear's right side. The paw pads have at some point been re-covered with a brown fabric. An incision has been made about halfway down on the left hand side of the bear's torso, this has been crudely sewn-up with red wool. The internal growler no longer works and now makes only knocking sound when the bear is turned over.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


1904-1908 (made)


Margarete Steiff GmbH (makers)

Materials and Techniques

Hand sewn mohair, kapok, wool


Height: 41 cm measured flat

Object history note

This bear belonged originally to Lionel Hemsley’s mother, Edith Margaret Louise Potter (b. 26/08/1901). Edith Potter married Arthur Hemsley in 1926, they had two children: Coral Shirley (b. 18/06/1931) and Lionel Allerton Hemsley (b. 02/09/1932). The bear was played with by both children, although Lionel has only foggy memories of doing so. He recalled that it used to have a working growler inside, although this is no longer operational. At about the age of four or five, Lionel made an incision in the bear’s abdomen, then sewed it back up with red wool. He thought this may have been because he wished to see, remove or repair the growler. Satisfyingly, he later became a vet.

After the children left home, the bear was stored in various places for many years, either with their mother or with Coral. Coral married Johnny Harrow in about 1957 and bore four children: Marietta, Theresa, Stephen and Adrian. The Harrow children were not allowed to play with the bear, but it was displayed in their home. Coral, a teacher, later used the bear as an aid during lessons about old toys. When not required, it sat in her classroom in a cardboard ‘throne’ decorated with shiny wrapping paper.

The bear was given to the Museum in 2016 [2016/829].

Descriptive line

Teddy bear, Steiff, 1904-1905; 'operated on' by Lionel Hemsley in about 1936


Mohair; Kapok; Leather; Wool


Hand sewing

Subjects depicted

Teddy bears


Children & Childhood; Soft toys


Museum of Childhood

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