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.