Once upon a time, nearly 100 years ago, a real boy named Christopher Robin sat in his room and played with five dolls: a toy bear, donkey, kangaroo, pig, and tiger. That boy was English author A.A. Milne’s son, and those dolls were, of course, Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore, Kanga, Piglet and Tigger, the inspiration behind one of the most well-known children’s book series of the 20th century.
Almost a century later, those same toys are on view in Manhattan thanks to the New York Public Library. Except, at the ripe old age of 95, the original residents of the Hundred Acre Wood look better than they did when they were handed over to the Library in the 1980s. That’s because they just got a makeover, as explained by Katherine Brooks, Senior Arts & Culture Editor, The Huffington Post.
A year ago, NYPL conservators decided that the famous doll collection needed a facelift. Or, more specifically, neck alignments, clavicle repairs, and bottom fluffing. With the restoration, the library hoped to bring back some of the toys’ past luster ― not exactly fixing every tear and fade, but cleaning and repairing them so they more closely resembled the stuffed animals Christopher Robin knew.
Here's how Winnie and Eeyore look now.
Winnie-the-Pooh before (left) and after the restoration (right). During his makeover, four worn areas were treated and protected with nylon Maline net (including two front paw pads, his left foot paw pad, and his snout), several areas of lifting embroidery on the nose and left foot were stitched down with cotton thread, a protruding yarn from a previous repair under the right arm was fixed, and the plush on Pooh’s bottom was gently steamed and fluffed using, among other things, a microspatula.
Eeyore before (left) and after the restoration (right). During his makeover, a total of 52 patches were removed and replaced, patch wear at his clavicle was repaired, and he was encapsulated in net to protect his delicate plush.
Christopher Robin initially received the Harrods teddy bear on Aug. 21, 1921. The toy bear takes his name from an actual black bear, dubbed Winnie, who lived at the London Zoo when Christopher Robin was a child. If you want to know more about the real Winnie, read the book Finding Winnie.
The stuffed animals would go on to inspire Milne’s 1926 book Winnie-the-Pooh, the 1928 book The House at Pooh Corner, and a slew of adapted stories, TV shows and films that followed.
Go visit the toys housed at the NYPL’s Children’s Center in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in New York City, where kids are invited to make birthday cards for the characters still worshiped by budding readers today.
THE STORY BEHIND THE FAMOUS BEAR
Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie. And she was a girl! To learn the true story, read Finding Winnie, a #1 New York Times Bestseller and Winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal.