Hereford teddy bear collector's dying wish granted as vintage items make £60,000 at auction

Susan and Les Collard had the 4,000 piece collection packed into four rooms of their home Credit: Special Auction Services

A teddy bear collector who amassed 4,000 stuffed animals throughout her life had her dying wish granted yesterday as her collection went for over £60,000 at auction.

Susan Collard, from Hereford, asked her husband, before she died from Covid in March, to sell the collection and donate the money raised to the Hereford Wildlife Trust - where she had been a longstanding member for many years.

On Thursday (8 December) the antique and vintage collection went up for auction in Newbury and sold for a total of £60,648, despite only expecting £40,000.

The top sale was Northwood and Huntley, a Steiff and a German teddy bear, which were sold together and fetched £1,250.

The pair date from around 1908 and 1910 respectively, with Mrs Collard's records noting she had purchased them in August 2001.

Northwood and Huntley - a Steiff and a German Teddy Bear the childhood toys of Mr Carmichael with 1st World War connections Credit: Special Auction Services

Between 400 and 500 of the best antique and vintage bears were sold at the single owner auction, by Susan's husband, Les. The overflow will be included in spring/summer 2023 auctions.

Each bear was either named or numbered, cross referenced in four folders with original price and place of purchase.

Mrs Collard's bears lived in four rooms of her suburban home, with others spilling into other rooms.

A toy of Pindar the Panda, a character created and written by Peter Howard and illustrated by David Low, the political cartoonist, which appeared in the Evening Standard each day in the late 1930s, also fetched £1,125.

Les Collard with his late wife's collection of 4,000 teddy bears

Les said he hoped the impact on the trust will last forever.

He said: "Half of the money raised will go to running the trust and half will go to purchasing land. Sue would be so happy.

"The bears ranged from 20p to over £1,000, but every bear was equal and loved the same amount."

Each teddy could be seen on display in four rooms of their Hereford home, with all of them having a name imprinted on a wooden heart.

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s CEO Jamie Audsley said: "We are incredibly grateful to the Collards for this wonderful gift.

"The funds will contribute to our land purchase fund and to support our work restoring wildlife habitats across the county – a legacy for our landscape, and for future generations to enjoy.

"Gifts such as this are essential to us and allow us to continue our work to protect Herefordshire’s wildlife and wild places."