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This was my Alfonzo. He has recently been sold to a nice couple in North Carolina for a Valentine's Day gift .

The original Alphonzo bear has an interesting history. He was specially commissioned from Steiff as a “one-off” for Grand Duke George Michailovich of Russia to give to his daughter, the Princess Xenia Georgievna of Russia (1903-1965), in 1908.

In 1914, she took him to England on a visit to Buckingham Palace, but as World War One had started, she and her bear never returned to Russia. She kept it until her death in 1965.

Xenia’s daughter Nancy Leeds Wynkoop inherited Alfonzo and offered him up for sale at Christie’s in 1989, when Ian Pout of Teddy Bears of Witney bought him at a Christies auction in London for a record £12,100, the most ever paid for a teddy bear. In 1990 Steiff created a limited edition Alphonzo Teddy Bear.

The original Alphonzo bear was on display at the museum at Teddy Bears of Witney until 2016, when Mr. Pout sold him. He is now residing at a new museum in Denmark.

I learned about Alfonzo when I met Mr. Pout at a teddy bear convention around 1994. Often times at these conventions, there were private showings for business owners and bear makers to meet and share their latest designs. Ian Pout came to my display, introduced himself and checked out my bears the evening we bear makers opened our boxes before setting up our tables in the morning. I distinctly remember him moving my bears’ joints to test their quality. The next day he came to my table during the show to talk about ordering a special edition bear for the annual catalogue at his shop. I was thrilled to learn about him and Teddy Bears of Witney and, of course, did my research about Alfonzo.

I was so pleased that my bears were chosen to grace his catalogue that I created Fonzie in a limited edition. This is Number 1 out of 2. Mr pout has Number 2. I gave it to him as a “thank you” gift.

I have kept only three of my own bears. Thaddeus and Tatiana are two. The third one, Fonzie, is this Russian red bear wearing a tunic to celebrate Alfonzo, from Teddy Bears of Witney

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