Bear necessities? Widower is selling his late wife’s beloved collection of FOUR THOUSAND teddy bears


A widower is selling his late wife’s beloved collection of 4,000 teddy bears for £100,000 which he is giving to charity.

Les Collard, 84, and Susan ‘Sue’ Collard built the fluffy collection for more than 30 years and stuffed their four-bedroom home with of the vintage bears.

They spent almost every day of their retirement travelling to specialist shops, fairs and sales to buy second-hand teddies that Sue, a seamstress, would repair.

Every bear was put on display on purpose-built shelving in their house in Hereford.

Les Collard, 84, and his late wife Susan ‘Sue’ Collard built the fluffy collection for more than 30 years and stuffed their four-bedroom home full of the antique and vintage bears. Every bear was put on display on purpose built shelving in the house in Hereford

Each of the teddy bears was individually named and numbered by Sue and full records were cross-referenced in four files and two ledgers. She named the bears according to the locations where she acquired them

Each of the teddy bears was individually named and numbered by Sue and full records were cross-referenced in four files and two ledgers. She named the bears according to the locations where she acquired them

Les, who worked in management for a metal manufacturers, said Sue began collecting teddy bears after she bought him one for his 50th birthday. He said: 'We have a four bedroom house and virtually all the rooms have bears in them on shelving. You can see every bear, they are tiered like a football stadium'

Les, who worked in management for a metal manufacturers, said Sue began collecting teddy bears after she bought him one for his 50th birthday. He said: ‘We have a four bedroom house and virtually all the rooms have bears in them on shelving. You can see every bear, they are tiered like a football stadium’

Sue, who died in February aged 76, spent almost every day of her retirement travelling to specialist shops, fairs and sales to buy second-hand teddies with her husband

Sue, who died in February aged 76, spent almost every day of her retirement travelling to specialist shops, fairs and sales to buy second-hand teddies with her husband

Each one was named and numbered by Sue and full records were cross-referenced in four files and two ledgers.

She named the bears according to the locations where she got them.

Sadly, Sue died in February aged 76.

She and Les, her husband of 58 years, had agreed the surviving spouse would sell the collection and donate proceeds to the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.

It is so big that it is having to be split up and sold in three different sales. 

Les said it has been emotional sorting through the collection, which they started building in 1994, but knows it is what his wife would have wanted.

He said: ‘We had agreed years ago that we would eventually sell them and donate the proceeds to a wildlife charity provided we could afford to do so. 

‘I get by OK and every penny will go to charity.

Two bears, named Northwood and Huntley (pictured), that were made in Germany before the First World War, come as a pair worth £1,200 and will be auctioned off for charity

Two bears, named Northwood and Huntley (pictured), that were made in Germany before the First World War, come as a pair worth £1,200 and will be auctioned off for charity

Makes of bears include Steiff, Farnell, Schuco, Chiltern and Merrythought and estimates range from just £30 to over £1,000 (pictured: two Chiltern Skaters from the 1930s with an estimate of £300 each)

Makes of bears include Steiff, Farnell, Schuco, Chiltern and Merrythought and estimates range from just £30 to over £1,000 (pictured: two Chiltern Skaters from the 1930s with an estimate of £300 each)

Widower Les said it has been emotional sorting through the collection but knows it is what his wife would have wanted (pictured is a rare blue mohair miniature Schuco teddy bear from the 1920s with an estimate of £200)

He said: 'We had agreed years ago that we would eventually sell them and donate the proceeds to a wildlife charity provided we could afford to do so. It has been a lot of effort and it has been emotional but I know it is what Sue wanted to do'

Widower Les said it has been emotional sorting through the collection but knows it is what his wife would have wanted. He added: ‘We had agreed years ago that we would eventually sell them and donate the proceeds to a wildlife charity provided we could afford to do so. It has been a lot of effort and it has been emotional but I know it is what Sue wanted to do’ (pictured left is a rare blue mohair miniature Schuco teddy bear from the 1920s with an estimate of £200)

‘It has been a lot of effort and it has been emotional but I know it is what Sue wanted to do.

‘I thought that when Sue died I needed to get on with it in case anything happened to me. 

‘I would have hated for somebody to come into the house with no knowledge of the bears at all.’

Les, who worked in management for a metal manufacturers, said Sue began collecting teddy bears after she bought him one for his 50th birthday.

He said: ‘She was a craftsperson and she got the idea of buying vintage battered bears, sewing them up and then selling them on.

‘But Sue quickly decided that she wasn’t going to sell them.

‘We would go out five or six times a week to craft fairs and sales across Herefordshire to buy bears. She bought about 200 a year on average.

‘There are bears she bought for 10p and some bought for over £1,000. 

‘They were all put in a deep freeze to kill off any bugs. But they were equally loved.

Les said: 'She was a craftsperson and she got the idea of buying vintage battered bears, sewing them up and then selling them on'

The widower added: 'But Sue quickly decided that she wasn't going to sell them. We would go out five or six times a week to craft fairs and sales across Herefordshire to buy bears. She bought about 200 a year on average'

Les said: ‘She was a craftsperson and she got the idea of buying vintage battered bears, sewing them up and then selling them on. But Sue quickly decided that she wasn’t going to sell them. We would go out five or six times a week to craft fairs and sales across Herefordshire to buy bears. She bought about 200 a year on average’

Sue's collection of teddy bears is so big it is having to be split up and sold in three different auction sales (pictured is Thurloe, a black mohair Knickerbocker teddy bear from the 1930s with an estimate of £300)

Sue’s collection of teddy bears is so big it is having to be split up and sold in three different auction sales (pictured is Thurloe, a black mohair Knickerbocker teddy bear from the 1930s with an estimate of £300)

‘Each one was catalogued, named and numbered with their provenance.

‘We have a four-bedroom house and virtually all the rooms have bears in them on shelving. You can see every bear, they are tiered like a football stadium.’

Makes of bears include Steiff, Farnell, Schuco, Chiltern and Merrythought and estimates range from just £30 to over £1,000.

Two bears, named Northwood and Huntley that were made in Germany before the First World War, come as a pair and are worth £1,200.   

A Steiff bear, called Brompton, that was made in 1910 and lived with its former owner in New Zealand, is valued at £1,000.

A rare ‘Pindar the Panda’ bear made by British toy firm Chiltern in the 1930s is tipped to fetch £800.

And there are several Paddington Bears in the sale, including two Paddington and Aunt Lucy bears made by Gabrielle Designs that are worth £120.

Daniel Agnew, a teddy bear expert at Special Auction Services in Newbury, Berkshire, often home to auctions for rare teddies such as bears taken as good luck mascots by First World War soldiers, said: ‘We are delighted to be selling the largest collection of vintage and antique bears.

‘Susan’s collection represents a complete history of the bear market with examples dating from 1905 to the 1970s.’

Frances Weeks, communications and marketing manager at the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, added : ‘It is such a special collection. We are really touched they chose to give the money raised to us.’

The first sale takes place on Thursday, December 8.

Daniel Agnew, a teddy bear expert at Special Auction Services of Newbury, Berks, said: 'We are delighted to be selling the largest collection of vintage and antique bears'

The first of the three auctions takes place tomorrow, Thursday, December 8 (pictured are Marshall and Snelgrove, an early British teddy bear and his friend with an estimated worth of £400)

Daniel Agnew, a teddy bear expert at Special Auction Services of Newbury, Berks, said: ‘We are delighted to be selling the largest collection of vintage and antique bears.’ The first of the three auctions takes place tomorrow, Thursday, December 8 (pictured are Marshall and Snelgrove, an early British teddy bear and his friend with an estimated worth of £400)

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