Rupert  the  Bear


He started out as a character in a comic strip at the bottom of the women's page in the Daily Express, but soon leaped onto the stage, into song and video and of course, into much loved books and annuals.

So what makes Rupert so popular?

For Sir Paul McCartney, it's his optimistic attitude and innocence which enables him to tackle anything set against him. It is this attitude which kept him an essential part of a newspaper which, in wartime only ran to one single sheet.

Lord Beaverbrook considered that to omit him would damage public morale. For Terry Jones, it was his air of goodness and the secure but exciting world he inhabited.

His timeless appeal is perhaps explained by his brave, adventurous, yet modest character, keeping faithfully to the original style of stories devised by Mary Tourtel in 1920.

These have seen Rupert and his friends Bill Badger, Algy Pug, Edward Trunk and Podgy Pig, getting mixed up in adventures which have ranged from dealing with ogres, dragons and magic spells, to running away with the circus and pirates or taking a trip in an aeroplane or spaceship.

The stories have taken Rupert to every part of the world and the original newspaper strip always ended with a cliff-hanger.

It took just a year for Rupert to appear in a book 'The Adventures of Rupert the Little Lost Bear' and for the first Rupert merchandising to appear - a Little Bear embroidery card.
Rupert appeared in different types of books, published every couple of years throughout every decade right up to the present day, although it
took 16 years for The Daily Express to first publish the annuals which became a regular of many a child's Christmas stocking.

The first Rupert the bear images, however were not coloured and then when they were, Rupert wore a blue jumper with a grey scarf. It was his friend Bill Badger who wore red and yellow.

When Mary Tourtel retired in 1935 Alfred Bestall took over as illustrator and writer, although his work was only signed in 1948. He kept to the familiar image only introducing the decision that Rupert's trousers should have exactly six stripes to aid continuity for his assistant illustrators, who often drew the body.


Bestall took Rupert all I over the world and included new friends, i such as Tiger Lily and Brainy Pup. It was one ' of his tropical island endpapers, from a 1958 annual, which inspired Sir Paul McCartney to make the video 'Rupert and the Frog Song'. Bestall completed over 270 Rupert adventures before retiring in 1965, although he still contributed occasional artwork until the early eighties.

In the 1970s John Harrold became the official Rupert artist and continues to this day. He brought a sense of humour and fine detail to the Rupert pictures, whilst continuing the tradition of including Rupert in every frame and with James Henderson, introduced new characters to the plots including Little Yum and Rika.

Equally successful has been his partnership with writer Ian Robinson since 1990.

At first, Rupert merchandise, like the original sewing card, was aimed at children.


It's heyday was in the seventies when there were games and puzzles, toys and cuddly hears. But in the last two decades much has been produced with collectors in mind. For instance number of phone cards and also stamps. The latter issued by Guernsey in 1993 with John Harrold illustrations.

The first figurines were a set of five produced in the early 80s by Beswick. Discontinued in 1986 these are now valued at between £245 and £525. The most expensive including Rupert himself.


After nearly 20 years, Beswick produced a new series for Lawleys by Post, in 1998.

Camtrak issued a Wade Rupert figurine in 1996, which sold out in six weeks, now around £75 or more on the secondary market. The second in the series, Rupert and the Snowman, the first of a seasonal series, also sold out but can be found for about £65.


Limited figurines from Arden Sculptures are fetching £450 but unlimited editions are available for under £20.

Wedgwood produced items from the 1985-88. These included bookends, mugs, egg cups and collectors plates. 'When we were Young' has some of these on offer from £7 for an eggcup to £40 for bookends.


Very collectable, with many at almost pocket money prices, are Rupert pins and badges.

These were first issued in the thirties to members of the Rupert League for deeds well done, but others were later given away with comics. In 1977 Rupert badges were sold by The Police Federation to raise money for victims of terrorist activity in Northern Ireland and change annually.


The last two types of badge can be bought for three or four pounds.
Lledo produced Rupert vans in 1995 to celebrate their 75th anniversary. These are now around £7.
There are plenty of Rupert items still made today which would enhance any collection. These include silver plated boxes topped with figurines and including Rupert quotes, clocks and photograph frames from Silver Scenes.

But for many Rupert fans it is the books which appeal and for them the annual Rupert Book and ephemera fair, held each March at Desborough School, Maidenhead, Berkshire, is not to be missed.


Collector's items would be a 1974 issue of Pippin comic which was the first time Rupert had been included in a comic. Or the 1946 and 1947 Rupert annuals, which unlike other years have not been produced in facsimile due to political correctness problems.

Other facsimiles, first produced in 1985 in a limited edition to celebrate the 50th annual, can be bought for £20.

The first Rupert the bear Annual is currently valued at £550, others from the thirties and forties are £100-150. Later editions are £25-35 and ones from the seventies onwards can be bought for less than a fiver.

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