A rare pair of Steiff teddy bears are expected to fetch £10,000 when they go under the hammer.
The rod-jointed bears which have been in one family’s possession since new, date back to around 1904 and were originally purchased in the US where the family then lived.
The mohair bears were known in the family as Teddy B and Teddy G after the duo in Seymour Eaton’s famous storybook ‘The Roosevelt Bears’ and the original owner’s copy of the book accompanies the bears.
Steiff’s very first fully-jointed teddy bear, which was produced in 1902, was made with string jointing but none are believed to be in existence today.
Between 1904 and 1905 the bears were made with rod jointing and these two examples were bought new for the current owner’s grandfather, George W Elkins.
Later, disk jointing was perfected to give the bears their moving limbs - a method which is still used today.
Susanna Winters, toys and games specialist at Dominic Winter Auctioneers, said: “Rod bears are rare, and the appearance of a well-preserved pair of such teddy bears at auction, which have been in the same family since new, is an exceptional occurrence.
“When the owners brought in a large group of family toys, these bears, which had been languishing and forgotten in an old family trunk, jumped out as potential highlights.
“There was an early and rare Steiff pig that gave us hopes, but authenticating the bears involved a lot of research and, finally, a trip to the local vets.
“I had spoken to both Antiques Roadshow toy expert Bunny Campione and teddy bear expert Daniel Agnew, and the only way to prove they were rod bears was to get them x-rayed.
“Cotswold Vets were very amused when I arrived with a bag of teddies and explained what we wanted, but they fell in with the plan and the vet staff were as jubilant as I was when the x-ray confirmed our hopes.”
As a child Mr Elkins travelled extensively with his parents with the bears often left behind and not played with much.
The current owner remembers not being allowed to handle them as a child and for some years they have been confined to an old trunk.
The owner of the bears, who does not wish to be named, said: “I am astounded at the estimated values. I really had no idea what to expect.
“I hope they will enjoy their new homes very much.”
The German-made bears - one white and one golden - will go under the hammer at Dominic Winter Auctioneers in South Cerney, Cirencester, Gloucestershire on December 13.
Also being sold is a 1905/6 Steiff pig on wheels toy which was also owned by the same family. It is expected to fetch between £500 and £600.