Posted on: December 16, 2019

Teddy Bear Takeover! Toys take the auction by storm at Trevanion & Dean

Trevanion & Dean’s final auction of the year saw toys take the top spot, just in time for Christmas! One of the biggest successes of the day came from a humble looking teddy bear by Steiff, which was sold by auctioneer Christina Trevanion for an incredible £4200. “Steiff is a German toy firm who have been producing bears since 1902, and are thought of by many as the inventors of the teddy bear,” said Christina. “Drawing inspiration from US President Theodore Roosevelt, known colloquially as ‘Teddy’, the teddy bear originates from a story of a hunting trip Roosevelt participated in Mississippi in 1902. While hunting, Roosevelt declared the behaviour of the other hunters unsportsmanlike and he refused to kill a bear they had beaten and captured, but instead demanded it be shot quickly to be put out its misery. The incident was topic of many satirical cartoons at the time and inspired the designer Richard Steiff to create a friendly stuffed bear for children. The teddy bear was an instant success amongst woman and children, and Roosevelt even adopted one as his mascot when he re-ran for office!”

Steiff Bear circa. 1904 sold: £4200

The model sold at auction on Saturday dates back to 1904, and it amongst some of the earliest examples of a teddy bear in the world. A distinctive feature of the bear is its iron-rod joints, used in early bears to create moving joints before disk-jointing was perfected for limbs. It is one of the most sought-after examples by avid toy collectors, leading to highly competitive bidding from buyers online. It eventually sold to a buyer in the South of England for their private collection.

Clockwork Fireman sold : £440

The toys continued to achieve astonishing results as the sale went on, with a rare early 20th century tin plate clockwork fireman selling for £440; auctioneer Ian Woodward said ‘we had a lot of pre-sale interest in this item, specifically about the movement of the piece – the ladder extends and the figure moves as if he’s climbing – the better the condition, the better it will perform on sale day! Clockwork toys such as this, still in working order, always prove popular at auction.”

Perhaps one of the more unusual items that attracted a tremendous amount of attention during pre-sale viewing was a hand-build model of 10 Downing Street, which sold to an online bidder for £660. Built by a passionate doll’s house enthusiast, the creation comes with correspondence from 10 Downing Street itself, with signed letters giving permission for the vendor to visit the property for research purposes, and a follow up letter praising the model’s accuracy and craftsmanship. Valuer Simon Grover, who catalogued the house, said ‘it seemed to be fate that this piece was consigned right around the election! Whether it contributed to it’s price at auction, I can’t be sure – but it certainly is an impressive thing to behold. The level of detail in each room really is a credit to its creators!” There was further success for a staggering model of a Georgian mansion – standing at over 6ft tall! – which sold for £440.

10 Downing Street Replica Doll’s House sold: £660

Elsewhere in the auction, auctioneer Elizabeth Oliver oversaw an exciting battle between bidders on the phones and in the room for a Grand Tour bronze head of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, which sold for an incredible £2800. Of the sale, Elizabeth said ‘Selling this bronze was one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve had on the rostrum since I started auctioneering earlier this year. Grand Tours were a custom adopted in the 17th century by young men of the upper-class, which saw them depart to Europe in search of adventure, education and culture. They often collected fabulous relics and souvenirs of their time spent on the continent, which give us a fascinating insight into the history of tourism! This lot attracted attention from some of the most respected collector’s in the industry, so I knew it was something special. As always, it’s about achieving the best price for the vendor, and I’m happy we were able to deliver such a fantastic result!’

Marcus Aurelius sold: £2800

Further success was had in the paintings and fine art section, which saw exciting consignments of artworks by prominent artists of the 20th century, including a water colour by pioneering American-British artist Sir Jacob Epstein. His sombre image entitled ‘Father & Child’ attracted bidding from modern art enthusiasts both nationally and internationally, eventually selling for an impressive £2600. Later, an oil painting by one of the pioneers of the St. Ives School Alexander Mackenzie sold for £1000, and a vibrant gouache image of a bird by Surrealist Eileen Agar also achieved £1000. “The contemporary market has been incredibly strong for the last 10 years,” said valuer Simon Grover. “This has always been true of pieces at the top end of the market, but we’re finding there is demand for pieces on a more domestic scale – things that have a striking vision of the world, but which are affordable and of a size to fit a more domestic environment. In our 2020 design sale which will be held next August, we already have some fantastic mid-century modern art consigned. We expect more will come as we draw closer to the date, so it is shaping up to be an exciting auction!’

Epstein : Father & Son sold: £2600

As a successful 2019 at Trevanion & Dean draws to a close, auctioneer Ashley Jones reflects on what he thinks will be the biggest trends in the new decade. “As one decade ends and a new exciting one begins, the year of 2020 will kickstart the 21st-century’s version of the roaring 1920s. Tastes in antiques will change, fashions will evolve and new movements in the art world will breakout. We have a very exciting year ahead of us and I predict that recent styles will be emphasised to a whole new level. Millennials will lead the way into this new era. We no longer feel obliged to be custodians for the inherited artefacts curated by our grandparents and generations before them. Instead, we strive to embark on grand tours of our own.

“I think that we will see traditional antiques being adapted to the 21st-century way of living more than ever. For example, I can see pieces such as 17th century Dutch cabinets being used, believe it or not… for storing underwear, bowties and socks! Rare 18th century porcelain and ormolu mounted cache-pots being potted with an abundance of succulents. Wouldn’t it be lovely to see Paul De Lamerie rococo silver ewers being used for serving drinks at parties whilst using Paul Storr salvers for canapés…. a pipe dream? Perhaps not. But I think the passion to be more risqué, to challenge established ideologies, break boundaries and ultimately, be more daring with our taste in antiques, interiors and art will become stronger than ever!”

 To see a full list of results from our December 14th auction, click here. To see our 2020 auction dates, click here. Trevanion & Dean will be closed from Friday December 20th at 5pm and re-open on Thursday January 2nd at 9am. For consignments and enquiries call 01948 800 202 or email