Another Titanic Bear or a furry imposter

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Most of us know about Douglas Spedden's toy bear, known as Polar.

My attention has been drawn to another bear. This was supposedly given to the restaurant manager, Gaspare Gatti by his young son, Vittorio. It is said that when Gatti's body was recovered by Minia he was found to have a meerschaum pipe in a pocket, plus the little bear, which was about 6" tall.

The bear was returned to Gatti's widow, who kept it for many years. In 1990, she gave it to the Museum of Childhood in Ribchester, Lancashire.

In 1995, the museum closed and the bear was sold to an unknown buyer.

My source is In the Company of Bears, by Prue Theobalds, but the tale is also on a number of websites.

The weakness in the touching tale is that neither the bear nor the pipe is mentioned in the list of belongings found on Gatti's body.

Would anybody like to comment?
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Dave, I remember seeing that tiny brown bear on the museum's website a few years ago. Much was made of it , and I wondered if maybe it might be a Stieff bear. I recall reproductions were made and for sale for a time.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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I've not seen it, but the museum bear was apparently one of the first made by Bing in 1907, and had a metal (probably tinplate) body with a covering of fur fabric. Perhaps it really was some sort of mascot given to Mr Gatti by his family, but when he sailed on Titanic it remained at home. In the legend factory, it's a short step from missing the boat to becoming a survivor.
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Of the effects that *were* found with Luigi Gatti, his widow returned to his family in Italy the monetary note which features in his Biography on this site. Except the gold 'Kruger souvereign'; which was kept for many years: eventually being sold - simply as a rare coin - to a noted London dealer. Though not influencing the price he paid for it, he always remembered the claim made by the lady who sold it to him that it - supposedly - had some connection with 'Titanic'. In time, he forgot her name. But - fortunately - he thought he remembered it being "'Montalto or aldo'": Gatti's house!
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Shelley: Thanks for sharing that with us. When some of us had a meet-up recently with Randy at Oceanic House, I took along 'Sad'. Not that I'm calling 'Sad' a pirate, mind, but it's believed he is a Bing Brothers copy of Margaret Stieff's famous black 'mourning bears' and 'born' at the same time. (Stieff soon won a court case.) And, now I'd like one of these little brown bears. Would 'adoption' be possible at my age?
 
Apr 11, 2001
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The original black 1912 bear was mohair and is worth great deal today (up to $300 in good condition) but there is also a small repro.There is even a pewter collectible (recent) of the 1912 bear.
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original
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new repro pendant
 
Apr 11, 2001
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This polar Stieff is going for 3-4 hundred these days. I would love the 1912 black bear too- reminds me of my favorite president, and Archie Butt's good friend , Teddy Roosevelt!
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Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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Evening all,

My arctophile friend (as some teddy-bearites like to call themselves), David Singleton, has provided some detail on this. I have no idea of its reliability, but pass it on FWIW.

Luigi Gatti was last seen on the night of the sinking standing alone on the boat deck, wearing a top hat and carrying a small case and with a travelling rug over an arm.

Supposedly, or allegedly, one of the means by which his body was identified was a small golden mohair teddy bear found in his coat pocket.

The bear, so the tale goes, had been given to him for luck by his young son, Vittorio.

It was a 1907 bear, manufactured by Bing of Germany, and is said to have been returned with Gatti’s other personal effects to his widow Edith Kate Gatti of ‘Montalto,’ Harborough Road, Southampton.

(Edith was also to receive a quarterly payment of £6 from the Titanic Relief Fund towards the education of Vittorio.)

Of course the problem is that it is not listed in his effects, but then the abstract of effects that is most publicly available is not actually exhaustive...

Garry Shutlak and Alan Ruffman have found more comprehensive records of body descriptions and effects in the coroner archives in Halifax, and I
rather suspect they are doing a book on it..!

Anyway, the Gatti family subsequently moved back to London where the bear and family are both said to have survived a direct hit from a bomb during the blitz in the Second World War.

The family later moved to Bedale, in North Yorkshire, where Gatti’s widow Edith died in 1962.

On her death the teddy bear was inherited by Vittorio, the original donor, who died in 1974.

Vittorio’s widow, Margery, later placed the bear with the Museum of Childhood in Ribchester, Lancashire, where it remained on display for some nine years in all.

In 1992, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the sinking, the museum commissioned the English teddy bear manufacturers, Merrythought, to make a limited edition of 5,000 replica 'Gatti' bears.

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These replica bears (above) are now also hunted by collectors.

The Ribchester museum closed in 1995 and the owners David and Ankie Wild sold the entire inventory of exhibits at auction in 1996.

Gatti’s bear was sold for £9,000 to an undisclosed private buyer.

Is there any truth in the story? We'll probably have to wait and see what Ruffman and Shutlak come up with. They might emerge with Wallace Hartley's violin case while they're at it.
 

John Clifford

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Nov 12, 2000
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I love the two Polar-type bears that I purchased, during the Las Vegas Exhibit in 2000, and at the Baltimore Science Center Exhibit in March