Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Some More Things to Do With Sheep (for Zhoen).






In her almost-daily blog posting Zhoen has been meditating on a theme of sheep, so I have allowed my own sheepish family to come out of the wardrobe and be photographed in the garden for her.
These are TinkaBell bears, made of sheepskin.

I have a collection of English teddy bears, most of them being around my age, or even older. Because of fabric rationing during the time of World War 2 the few manufacturers still making soft toys turned to sheepskin. In 1946 a sheepskin soft-toy business was started in Worthing, Sussex, by John Plummer and Dudley Wandless with one member of staff. They became very successful, and made other things for children, such as baby linen, playsuits and tents - not all made of sheepskin - until 1972.
Teddy bears were their most popular item. Over 70.000 were made annually during the 1960s, and many went to Canada.
The trade label (usually sewn into the foot) is TinkaBell, and they were made in eight sizes.

 I have five different sizes here, plus a real oddity - the orange and black character with green eyes and a studded leather collar. Fifty shades of orange? Goodness knows where he's been, but he in distinctly unplayed-with condition. The others are natural sheepskin. They are all quite heavy and bulky, with wide flat immoveable heads and jointed limbs. The small one in the striped outfit reminds me of my elder son in his Rugby playing days. Not that he has a wide flat head, of course.

Many teddy bears are cuddly, but TinkaBells are very butch and straightforward. You'd have one in bed as a guardian (although possibly better as a door-stop), but not to cuddle and confide in. A TinkaBell wouldn't be listening. He'd be thinking about the next meal or the next Rugby match. But comforting, in a familiar sort of way.

Anyway, they can go back in the wardrobe now they've had a little airing, but TinkaBell doesn't really seem the right name, not even for the one in the pink frock.

8 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

How right you are.
TinkaBell does seem to be false advertising. Gorgeous things though. And no doubt that weight and solidity had its benefits. I suspect my brothers would have used them as a weapon...

Zhoen said...

Oh, I would have LOVED one of them, a Guardian Bear... oh, oh, oh. I had to sleep with every stuffed toy around me, to feel safe enough to sleep. Just one sheepskin bear, and I'd have been at peace.

Zhoen said...

Maybe the one with the studded collar when I was older...

Relatively Retiring said...

E.C. Yes, my sons would have thrown them around I'm afraid, but I didn't start collecting such things until after they had left home. (And I hide them when they come back.)

Zhoen: the little green-eyed monster is for adolescence upwards! I've never seen another one. Someone was having a really bad day when they made him.

Relatively Retiring said...

I realise I'm being unfair to my elder son, so I should add that he bought me a wonderful singing bear from Russia. He didn't chuck it about once, but he did handle it with rather disdainful finger-tips.

Jee said...

They do look comfortingly solid. The one in the rugby shirt looks asleep. I'm in the process of making a dress for Bunny to wear to the wedding, who must attend of course.

Relatively Retiring said...

Jee: time to start your blog again - or maybe a new Bunny Blog?

Jenny Woolf said...

I wonder if your character in a studded collar could be a leopard?