The genuine article

January 6, 2010


Genuine Pooh is something from my childhood that I would never part with. This is not that bear; it is Green Genuine who stood in for Genuine for this photo because Genuine is at my mom’s house and wasn’t available. So I guess technically I have parted with Genuine, even though I know exactly where he is.

Genuine is an old Steiff bear that was my Grandma H’s and that she gave to me when I was a youngster. I named him Genuine because he reminded me of the original Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations. I loved that bear hard. After he had been dragged around for years, my mom got into Teddy bear collecting and we began to realize that he actually had some collectable value. Fortunately, I was older by then and didn’t mind treating him more reverently.

He wasn’t my first Teddy bear. When I was really small, I had an amorphous brown thing that I was attached to. When he became threadbare and ratty, he was replaced with what was purported to be an exact replica. My mom tried to convince me that it was just as good, but New Teddy was nothing like Old Teddy. I continued my devotion to Old Teddy, and New Teddy sat alone off to the side. I also had Big Teddy who, at the time, was almost as big as I was.

Genuine became a minor celebrity in the bear world, or rather a photo of my grandmother as a girl clutching him did. Among other places, it appeared in Peter Bull’s 1984 book A Hug of Teddy Bears. I don’t have a copy of the photo, so this poor drawing will have to do.


In doing a little research this evening to find a photo of a similar bear to Genuine, I figured he’s a 1905, 1908 or 1920 Steiff. There were similar and different looking bears for all three years, so I don’t know exactly which it would be. The two above look most like I remember Genuine, and I think he looks more like the one on the left with the pointier snout, smaller nose, and more slender limbs. Grandma was born in 1903, so maybe it was a 1908 bear as she would have been about five or six as I remember the photo. 

(I haven’t seen Genuine for many, many years as he has been residing in my mom’s bear room, which, incidentally used to be my bedroom.) 

Green Genuine is a souvenir from my first trip to England, which was with my mom on a group Teddy bear tour. I found him at Teddy Bears of Whitney. He was a one-of-a-kind prototype by bear artist Sue Lain (hence the odd color of mohair) and he reminded me of Genuine, so I bought him. Now that I see him next to the Steiff bears, he doesn’t really look that much like Genuine. I think we have a photo of the two bears together.

And now that I think about a photo of Genuine and Green Genuine together, I remember that my mom also bought a Second Genuine that was in better condition than Original Genuine. So there are two Genuines and one Green Genuine.

And now I have to stop, because the letters that spell G-e-n-u-i-n-e are beginning to take on a life of their own and look weird.

Steiff bear photos from here and here.

3 Responses to “The genuine article”

  1. Dan Fone Says:

    For some reason I can’t help but expect green genuine to have a really sharp sense of humour. He looks to me like he’s just about to say something *unexpected*.

  2. Liz, Swanage Says:

    Green Genuine is a particularly appealing bear. I agree with the comment above, his eyes are really piercing. I’m going to have a look for Sue Lain’s bears as he looks really special

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Liz, thanks for reading! I tried to find a page about Sue Lain to link to but was unsuccessful. She’s from Wisconsin and I think her business might be called Memory Lain.

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