Friday, November 12, 2021

Museum of Me : A Collection

The Museum of Me staff has been hard at work installing a new exhibit for November. This has involved some dusting, rearranging, and visiting with a few old friends. If you'll please follow the docent, she'll show you around this month's exhibit, simply entitled A Collection. 

I don't actually have a lot of collections so this was an easy one to feature. It's made up of Steiff stuffed animals. (The small group of salt cellars and knife rests above the animals might look like I am a collector, but maybe we'll talk about those pieces in another exhibit someday.)

This collection makes me happy because I didn't actually pursue any of these animals for the sake of collecting, and I'm emotionally attached to all of them. It started with my mother. Several of these were hers, and when my sister and I were cleaning out after Mom died (17 dumpsters worth), I couldn't bring myself to give them away. My sister was having a harder time parting with things, but I was so tired at the end of each day of cleaning that I found it easy to limit myself to just a few small things, and these animals were perfect.

My mother seemed to have mainly cats and rabbits, but there is also Flossy the goldfish. I wish I had had the chance to ask her about them. Many of them still have have their name and ear tags and don't look like they were well-played with, but I will never really know their backstories.

I like that this collection has three different Mannis. The one on the far right was my mother's and the other two were given to my sister and I, most likely for Easter. The Museum of Me does not deal with illegally-obtained artifacts, but I will admit that several of these may have originally been given to my sister. Let's just say that they're on permanent loan. The rabbits below (two Snuffys and the sweet little bunnies that fit so nicely in the palm of your hand) are also on permanent loan (as decreed by the museum director):

I did use babysitting money to purchase several Steiff animals as a teenager. 

These included a deer,



and Joggi the hedgehog. The Museum hasn't added to the collection in decades, partly because the board would not approve the expense, and mainly because any more additions to the collection would exceed the museum storage space. The director briefly entertained adding a reindeer to the collection, but ultimately resisted. 

Some of you may have noticed the slightly bedraggled-looking bear on the far left. He doesn't have an ear tag or a name tag, and is technically a fake. But this is "Coffee Bear", named when one of the boys spilled coffee on him and liked how he smelled afterwards. When the Museum was culling its larger collection of stuffed animals, the curator could not bring herself to get rid of him, so Coffee Bear sits proudly next to the "real" Steiff bears. He is real because two little boys loved him. 

After I brought these home from my mother's house and installed them in the Museum, I started looking up values for some of them. Some of them are worth quite a bit, but I eventually stopped. I can't imagine selling them, and although they aren't played with and are just displayed on one shelf, they are priceless pieces in The Museum of Me.

Be sure to visit Kym today for her new exhibit, and several others may also be participating. The Museum exhibits will be changed monthly on the second Friday of the month, so please stop by again in December for the next carefully curated installation. (The gift shop is on the right on your way out!)


  1. What a fun post and what a fun collection Bonny! I had no idea that Steiff made animals other than bears. I love the little fish, the deer and the owls. They are all so special. I sure am enjoying these "Museum of Me" posts you and Kym are doing.

  2. This is clearly a meaningful collection for you, thank you for sharing the memories and photos with us.

  3. I've never heard of this company but can tell that these are real treasures! (A stuffed goldfish? Revolutionary!) I think my favorite comment here is about Coffee Bear: "He is real because two little boys loved him." Sniff. Sure is dusty in here. Better get the museum custodial staff to see about that.

  4. OMG, Bonny! I hope to see you on Antiques Roadshow someday as I know the folks on there would love to see these. This is such a great collection. I am not a collector of anything much, but I can see why you would never let these go. These would get fondled routinely at my house. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This collection is just so much fun! (and I love the well-loved bear addition because, well, he is priceless!)

  6. very interesting! I love them because they mean something to you and bring back fond memories. I would be like you and quit looking up values if I wasn't thinking of selling at all.

  7. What a fabulous collection, Bonny! I had never heard of Steiff animals until I met Tom -- his mother is a doll collector and has several Steiff animals in her collection. She'd LOVE to see your collection! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful, sweet, and absolutely charming collection. XO (My favorite is Coffee Bear. Because he is valuable and REAL in all the ways that matter.)

  8. Collections that "just happen" and are well loved and enjoyed are the very best! Steiff is something I had no knowledge of until I was well into adulthood. Probably because no one in my family collected (anything). But, I have a little white bear (4-5" tall) that my grandmother made and gave to me for Christmas (I had admired the little bears she made for the great-grands). I have no collections, except the heart shaped stones I pick up here and there on my walk each day.

  9. What a lovely exhibit, and your recollections are wonderful. I love the "loaners," and Coffee Bear!! He's the best!!

  10. I love this post! And that Goldfish is amazing. Your museum director has created a marvelous collection!

  11. I would say this collection is priceless. There is no replacement for all the memories tied up in these sweet stuffies. Coffee Bear is my favorite.


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