Surprise donation of rare Steiff teddy bears worth hundreds to go up for auction

With some of the teddy bears to be autioned off for Cromer Lifeboat Station are, from left, Beryl Ma

With some of the teddy bears to be autioned off for Cromer Lifeboat Station are, from left, Beryl Mansell, chairman of the Cromer Ladies Lifeboat Guild, Keith Beck, Sue Wood, Joy Beck and Bob Wood. Picture: Stuart Anderson - Credit: Archant

A collection of rare Steiff teddy bears is to go under the hammer to help those who save lives at sea.

Some of bears - which are not considered toys, but collector's items - could raise as much as £200.

The bears were donated to Sue Wood of the Cromer Ladies Lifeboat Guild, who wants to auction them off for the town's RNLI station.

Mrs Wood, 73, said: "Every year we collect teddy bears and do a big tombola on Cromer's Lifeboat Day where people can win them.

"I was speaking to a man about this and he turned out to be a neighbour, and he said 'I've got some teddy bears you could have'.

"When he said they were Steiff bears I almost fell off my chair. I thought 'am I hearing things?' It was a really nice surprise. We think they could sell for £100 to £200 each."

German firm Steiff was founded in 1880 and has produced around a million teddy bears since founder Richard Steiff came up with the idea at the turn of the century.

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US toymaker Morris Michtom started making bears around the same time, and they are both credited with inventing the teddy bear.

The highest sum ever paid for a Steiff bear was €1,978,000 (£1.7m) for a custom-made piece with Louis Vuitton clothes and bag. Other big earners have included a black 'Titanic Mourning Bear' in memorial of the ship's sinking, for which £110,000 was paid in 2000, and a 'Happy Teddy Bear' from 1926 which earned £103,000.

Beryl Mansell, chairman of the lifeboat guild, said she was delighted about this latest charity work by Mrs Wood, who is supported by her husband, Bob.

Mrs Mansell said: "They are fantastic in how much money they have raised for the lifeboat - they do such a good job.

The Steiff bears are in their original boxes, and all come with certificates and gold earrings - another mark of authenticity.

The collection comprises eight Steiff bears, three Merrythought bears - a British version - and several other bears.

Mrs Wood said they had not confirmed details of when and where the auction would take place, but she wanted it to happen "as soon as possible, before Christmas".

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