Fur-less leather teddy

by Tom
(Adelaide, Australia)

furless teddy bear

furless teddy bear

Greetings from Adelaide, Australia,

I bought this vintage leather teddy at a local estate auction about 15 years ago and have had no success in identifying a possible maker, place of origin, or even an approximate age. The teddy came with its own high-quality glass case and a rickety wooden cottage chair (doll size) to sit on but I doubt teddy has had this luxury from birth. Nonetheless, someone before me also valued it.

As the photos show, the teddy is in somewhat fragile condition! It measures 30cm (12") from head to toe and is straw-filled (as in wood shavings). Initially I thought the teddy must have lost its original fur over time, but on close inspection with a magnifying glass, there is absolutely no evidence of it ever having fur. There are very few images of other fur-less leather teddies to compare it to online.

This one's arms and legs are articulated and the movement is firm, not flimsy or worn. The eyes are metal with metal loops on the back for sewing on. In the middle of the forehead is the remnant of a single spot of stitching. It looks like something must have been attached there but I don't know what unless it had a permanently attached hat.

The stitching of its seams is remarkably variable. On the legs, stitching is broad, obvious and completed with a fine string and in a slightly irregular pattern that looks a little like boot laces. This changes to fine and tight stitching along the centre top of the feet. The stitching becomes even finer and less obvious around the edge of the feet where the darker colour leather soles are sown on.

Stitching on the vertical belly seam is fine, regular and tight. The same applies to the diamond-shaped leather piece that runs from the snout through the eyes and over the top of the head and down to the top of the back.

The stitching at the base of the back is in fine string but is roughly completed.

While there is no label or obvious maker's mark, the teddy doesn't look home-made to my untrained eye. The cotton blouse looks very old, fits well and I wouldn't be surprised if it's original. I haven't tried to remove it in case of damage.

An antique dealer suggested the teddy was very old and probably from the mid-late 1800's. If it is that old and has has some significance in its own right then perhaps it's better off on public display somewhere.

Hope someone can provide some clues :)


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