Winniew the Pooh is as popular now as he was 95 years ago, not least with collectors

Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn looks at a popular children's character who has created a catalogue of collectables

By Henry Widdas, Communities Content Page Manager
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 7:39 pm

This week sees what must be one of the cuddliest anniversaries around, Winnie the Pooh Day. Celebrating the birthday of author A. A. Milne, born 140 years ago on 18th January 1882, it’s a good excuse to hold a teddy bears’ picnic with plenty of honey!

One of the best-loved and most enduring children’s characters, Winnie the Pooh, originally named Edward Bear, first appeared in Punch and the London Evening News. These were followed by the books ‘Winnie the Pooh’ in 1926 and ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ in 1928.

Popular and collectable from the start, with classic illustrations by E.H. Shepard, mint first editions fetch several thousand pounds today.

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This cuddly Winnie the Pooh toy is available at he antiques centre

Winnie the Pooh was inspired by the beloved teddy bear belong to Milne’s son, Christopher Robin Milne, who had named him after ‘Winnie’, a famous bear living in London Zoo at the time.

Christopher Robin also appears in the books, along with his toys Kanga, Roo and Eeyore. His original Pooh- the Holy Grail of Pooh collectors!- is now on display in the New York Public Library.

By 1938, Pooh was a $50 million-a-year business in the USA alone. From 1961 Disney started producing Pooh shorts, animations and feature films, starting a distinction between collectors of Disney-style memorabilia and that based upon E. H. Shepard’s original drawings.

Today’s Pooh aficionado is spoilt for choice, with almost every toy and china company producing copies of the world’s most collected bear, notably Royal Doulton, Steiff, Swarovski, and of course the merchandising behemoth that is Disney.

From lithographs to snowglobes and figurines to Disney beanies, for collectors, the older, rarer, and more unusual the piece, the better.

These gorgeous cuddly figures currently hunting Woozles around the centre are perfect to snuggle up to. Large Winnie is £9.50, Tigger £1, and Eeyore £1.50.

If you’re like me, E. H. Shepard’s original drawings have never lost their charm. In 2018, a hand-drawn map of Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood shattered the record for the most expensive book illustration sold at auction.

The 1926 drawing fetched £430,000 at Sotheby’s, almost three times its expected sale price, and beating the previous record (also a Pooh drawing) by more than £100,000.

Slightly out of my price bracket, but all I have to do is open my treasured copy of Winnie the Pooh, and I’m transported straight back to Pooh Corner.