The adventures of the honey-loving bear “Winnie the Pooh” have captivated children — and their parents — for nigh-on 100 years. Fans now have a chance to own a central piece of Pooh’s history, when a countryside bridge from southern England goes up for auction next week.
The author of the hugely popular Pooh series of books, A. A. Milne, often played with his son, Christopher Robin, at the bridge in the 1920s. It became a regular setting for the adventures of Pooh and his friends in the series that launched in 1926.
“Offering it at auction is probably the biggest opportunity globally for people to reach out and be able to buy it and put it in a museum,” said James Rylands of Summer Place Auctions, which has previously auctioned items including 20 tons of the Berlin Wall.
Rylands described the bridge as “one of the most important iconic literary objects there is,” and laid out hope that it could go for 250,000 pounds, way beyond the 40,000 to 60,000-pound estimate placed on Tuesday’s auction.
“When you actually talk about history and add in the emotion and the happiness that ‘Winnie the Pooh’ has brought to generations as children and adults over the years, it is very difficult to price it,” Rylands said. “If it fetches a quarter of a million pounds, then I won’t be surprised.”
The bridge, originally called Posingford Bridge, was built around 1907 and officially renamed Poohsticks Bridge in 1997 by the late author’s son, whose toy animals were the basis of the Pooh series.
It was then taken down in 1999 after being worn out by visitors and was replaced by a newer structure funded largely by the Disney corporation.
The original bridge was dismantled and stored in Ashdown Forest Centre in the southern county of East Sussex, until the local Parish Council recently gave permission for it to be restored and rescued. The bridge, which measures 8.87 meters long by 4.5 meters wide (29 feet by 15 feet), has now been fully restored using local oak for any missing elements.
The auction coincides with the centenary of Pooh’s arrival in the world when Christopher Robin received a fluffy teddy bear from the luxury department store Harrods on his first birthday.
Rylands said there’s been interest from around the world, but hoped that the bridge stays local.
“I do hope it stays in Sussex because it obviously has great relevance to the locality,” he said. “But if it does end up in the United States or indeed Japan, I have no doubt it will be a little bit loved over there as well.”
—Khadija Kothia, The Associated Press