Eighteen-year-old music sensation, Manika has a favorite collectible: miniature Teddy bears (Photo: Michael Bezjian, Integrated-PR)
I’ve learned collectors often begin collecting things because it reminds them of their childhood. The numerous stories I’ve been told over the years about wonderful things people had as a child they wish they could find and covet today seems endless.
Eighteen-year-old music sensation, Manika has, in a short period of time, found a way to make it as a Top-40 Sony Red pop artist, travel the country promoting her music as the headlining act for the Girl Scouts 100th Anniversary national tour, and even squeezes in time to hunt for her favorite collectible: miniature Teddy bears.
Her debut single “Just Can’t Let You Go” is what made her a Top 40 pop star. She’s planning a tour with Travis Payne (best known for working with Michael Jackson as the choreographer on Jackson’s “This Is It” tour.
She’s got a philanthropic side, too. She has written books with proceeds going to Nevada’s SPCA shelter; she participates in writing workshops for young adults, visits Children’s Hospitals to read to young cancer patients and spearheads book drives for needy children. Feeling pretty lazy right about now, aren’t you?
With such a busy schedule, I was fortunate enough to catch a few minutes of her time to talk about her collection.
RH: It’s always fun to see what captures the attention of a young collector. In your case, its Teddy bears, and not just any Teddy bear, but miniatures. Tell me how you became interested in them.
MANIKA: It all started when I was 8 years old. It was Christmas time. Every year our family gets together to exchange gifts. There was this one present that I really wanted to be mine. There was a mini Teddy bear on top of the box, guarding it. I wanted that gift so much! Later, I found out it was for me! Ever since then I have been super into them. But I only collect the minis. They have to be 3 inches or smaller in size—just like the one that was on the package.
They can be hard to find. Sure, you can find bears in stores all over, but not the small ones. In my travels I find stores that either have a bunch of them for sale or nothing at all.
RH: So just mini Teddy bears, or does anything else qualify?
A collection of Steiff miniature Teddy bears from the 1930s through the 1950s, all three inches tall or shorter, of course.
MANIKA: It doesn’t have to be teddy bears; any stuffed animal that is that small I love. But I do stick by the 3-inch or smaller requirement.
RH: How do you display your collection?
MANIKA: I got a box for Christmas that looks like a mini treasure chest. I keep them all in there. The first one I got when I was I was 8 sits on top of the chest. That is still my favorite one. When I was 9 I had played with it so much, its arms, legs, etc., fell off. But I sewed them back on.
RH: I met a celebrity not long ago who had a collection of all things Superman. He only started collecting them because his fans had sent them to him. It was a collection that essentially found him. Have you added any to your collection from your fans?
MANIKA: No, it has never come up in any of my interviews that I collect Teddy bears. I hold on to all the things fan give me, but I don’t think anyone knows I collect them. The nice thing is they are so small that I can carry them around with me when I am on tour.
These Steiff bears, circa 1950, measure in at 10 centimeters.
RH: So some of your collection travels with you on tour?
MANIKA: I keep all at home, but I keep one or two with me that I can take on tour. I wouldn’t want anything to get lost!
RH: Any tips for fans reading on collecting mini Teddy bears?
MANIKA: I really suggest if you see a Teddy bear that you really like, don’t think “I’ll come back and get it.” If you see one that you really like, buy it then, otherwise, it will be gone!
You can follow Manika through her official website or on her Facebook page (she has more than 1030,000 fans on Facebook alone).
Reyne Haines is an appraiser with an expertise in 20th Century Decorative Arts. She hosts “The Art of Collecting” on KPRC in Houston, a weekly program spotlighting trends and news items in the world of antiques & collectibles, is a repeat guest on CBS’ “The Early Show” and can be heard on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius Satellite Radio Network. She is also the author of the richly-illustrated book “Vintage Watches” published by Krause.
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