A Brit a Day [#472]


My childhood teddy bear was an adorable pathetic looking thing who had a love-smashed muzzle and dodgy fur from the beginning of time I could remember. I don’t have a picture of him, but if you take the bear pictured above, give him absolutely no neck, replace his button eyes with sleepy-eyelid-shaped half moons of yellow felt, make his body and legs so straight and firmly stuffed that he resembles a crucifix, then you have the idea. His name was Eddie the Teddy, not because of the euphony of the rhyme but because he made me think of Ed Sullivan, the early television impresario.

When my husband left for Germany last month, I told him that I would be grateful if he brought home anything with a gold button in its ear. I got the quizzical look, and I told him about the signature tagging of the Steiff stuffed animals. I was thinking maybe a hedgehog. Well I did get my little hedgehog upon his return, a tiny stuffed guy with a keychain delicately attached to the top of his head. But I also got an exquisite 1912 Classic black mohair Teddy Bear. Here is his picture in the Steiff catalog:

My new bear needed a name worthy of his lineage. I couldn’t get over his marvelous fur, so the only thing I could think of was Herr Mohair Bear. Not much of a name. Maybe Mo for short. Herr Mohair Bear led to Herr Morris Chair for no particular reason, which led me to the Wikipedia to learn more about William Morris, the Victorian designer and artist whose firm adapted and popularized the Morris chair. William Morris had the vision to want posterity to remember the Victorian Age for something other than Industry and its byproduct Soot. He designed textiles and wallpapers like the ones pictured below:

Ummmmmm, yummy. A lovely digression, but back to naming the bear. Herr Morris Bair? Herr William Morris Bair?? One artifact would provided the key–a picture of the man himself:


I think the resemblance is uncanny, especially around the eyes. William Morris Bair, then, it is–and today’s Brit is his namesake, William Morris.

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