For a whole host of reasons, I have become increasingly interested in the history of Teddy Bears – not something you’d normally expect of a balding, middle-aged charity chief executive. But, over lockdown, the adventures of Ben the Bear were chronicled on Facebook, as he helped me with shopping, eating and other tasks of daily life. At the same time, I was introduced to other bears, including the special ones produced by Harrods each year in time for the Christmas season.
Snow Bear, the first Harrods Christmas bear, appeared in 1986 wearing a knitted hat and scarf. This first bear was the only one not to have the distinguishable logo and year on his left paw, and he originally sold at a price of £14.95. He was reproduced in 1995 – this time with the logo and the date, 1986, on his paw. Original, undated bears are incredibly hard to find (reputedly, even the Harrods archive does not have one) and can sell for upwards of £600. There’s one on eBay today, with just that price tag.
Since 1986, a bear has been released every year, Each bear wears a different outfit and is released in time for Christmas. In the early years, the bears did not have names. The first named bear, William, was released in 2003. Since then, very bear released has his own name and is accompanied by a tag telling his story. As the popularity of the bears grew, consumer demand led to all bears from before 2003 being retroactively given names.
I have been unable to find a list anywhere on the web of the bears and their names, so here, following a bit of digging, are the whole gang (almost). Or picnic. Or whatever the correct collective noun is. I’m not sure that I have got all the names right (and am surprised to see a couple of duplications), so am happy to be corrected by those with more knowledge than I…