'The Ultimate Teddy Bear Book' and 'The Teddy Bear encyclopedia' by Pauline Cockrill
In hindsight, I can see my life has more often than not been driven by coincidence and oddly enough, my bear-making career has been no exception. I was quietly browsing through the shelves of my local bookshop one lunchtime in the early 1990's, when I felt compelled to open a particular book ... that book happened to be 'The Ultimate Teddy Bear Encyclopedia' written by Pauline Cockrill.
I have always loved teddy bears and my own childhood bear had discreetly settled into a comfy corner of my adult life, so when I flicked through that beautiful book and saw a very familiar bear looking back at me, my jaw fell open in surprise! I had no idea then, that my special childhood bear had officially become what was known as a 'collectible' teddy bear!
Me and 'Big Ted' in 1964
And so my love affair with the 'Chiltern Hugmee' began. It really was as simple as that. I was so delighted to discover my 'Big Ted' in that book, I couldn't resist checking out all the references in the back pages to see what else I could find ... and there was a hidden gem tucked away - an address for 'The Petersfield Bear Museum' (founded in 1984 by Judy Sparrow) ... only a couple of hours drive from where I was living!
My 1940's Chiltern Hugmee 'Bobby Bear', with a copy of Judy Sparrow's 1993 'Teddy Bears' book.
I was utterly enchanted by the museum - it truly was a magical place and I didn't want my visit to end. As I reluctantly stepped down into the museum shop on my way to the exit, a wonderful 1940's Chiltern Hugmee bear met my gaze and by a stroke of pure luck, he wasn't an exhibit, he was for sale! Well, of course, after a chat with Judy and her husband he had to come home with me. Somehow, I seem to have collected an entire hug of Chiltern Hugmees since then!
Some of my Chiltern Hugmee collection
I have also been privileged to get to know lovely Pam Howells, chief designer for the Chiltern Hygenic Toy Company between 1957 and 1967. Pam was kind enough to make one of her special 'Chiltern Memory' bears for me, back in the early 1990's.
My 'Chiltern Memory' bear, by Pam Howells.
Sadly, the Petersfield Bear Museum closed to the public several years ago, but many of the exhibits are featured in Judy's super book titled 'Teddy Bears', which was published in 1993 by Magna Books. (By the way, there are a few copies currently available on Amazon if you would like to purchase a copy!)
Teddy Bear Times magazine, Issue 10, published Autumn 1992