These Photos of Old Stuffed Animals Will Make You Miss Childhood

The Photo Blog
Oct. 30 2013 11:04 AM

These Photos of Old Stuffed Animals Will Make You Miss Childhood

Pink Teddy, age 24, height 13 inches. Belongs to Aisling Hurley.

Mark Nixon

The stuffed animals captured in Mark Nixon’s book, Much Loved, have been treasured and lost, used and occasionally abused, but never forgotten. The idea to document these lifetime companions occurred to Nixon when he started noticing his son’s devotion to his stuffed Peter Rabbit. “I was struck by … the way he squeezed it with delight when he was excited, the way he buried his nose in it while sucking his thumb, and how he just had to sleep with Peter every night,” Nixon wrote in the introduction to his new book, which is published by Abrams. “I vaguely remembered having similar childhood feelings about my own Panda.”

Panda and Peter Rabbit both make an appearance in Much Loved, along with a slew of other furry friends that Nixon met through their owners after he put out a call for participants. “It is universal. It is that primal kind of emotional attachment that a lot of people have,” he said in an interview. “When you're that young, they're just a great comfort. I had no idea how much people would respond to it.”

He also had no idea that those most enthusiastic about the project would not be kids but adults and that many of the stuffed animals he would photograph would be more than 40 years old—some more than 100 years old. People’s attachment to their animals, he found, runs deep.

Edward, age 104, height 23 inches. Belongs to Melissa Nolan of the Dolls Hospital and Teddy Bear Clinic.

Mark Nixon

Bobo, age 34, height 12 inches. Belongs to Shane Maher.

Mark Nixon

Daddy Bunny, age 8, height 14 inches. Belongs to Zoe Bracken.

Mark Nixon


The book also features stories of the stuffed animals’ histories, including tales of their origins and travels. “Their strength of feeling took me by surprise. While waiting, they would tell some usually funny story about their teddy (how they had nearly lost it at some stage was a common theme), or would speak emotionally about what it meant to them,” Nixon wrote.

Nixon encountered stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes and in various states of disrepair. As his project gained popularity, a man contacted Nixon who claimed to have Elvis Presley’s childhood bear. (Nixon checked it out, but it turned out to be a fake.) Nixon did eventually photograph a bear belonging to U2’s Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, a memento of their friend Greg Carroll, who died in a car accident.

In photographing the stuffed animals, Nixon said he took inspiration from the photographer Irving Penn, whose still-life images transformed everyday objects like trash and food into art. “I just thought you could do the same thing with bears,” Nixon said. “You can take them and blow them up. It makes them iconic in a way. It gives them a presence or a gravity they don't usually have.”

Panda, age 50, height 16 inches. Belongs to Mark Nixon.

Mark Nixon

Beary, age 6, height 12 inches. Belongs to Tom O'Connor Jr.

Mark Nixon

Peter Rabbit, age 10, height 16 inches. Belongs to Calum Nixon.

Mark Nixon

One Eyed Ted/Aloysius,age 55-plus, height 13 inches. Belongs to Gerry Ryan and Babette Ryan.

Mark Nixon

Flopsie, age 6, height 14 inches. Belongs to Lua Spencer.

Mark Nixon


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059


Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Nobody Knows How Many Gay Married Couples Live in America—Not Even the Census Bureau

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
Sept. 22 2014 4:06 PM No, Women’s Soccer Does Not Have a Domestic Violence Problem Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 5:45 PM The University of California Corrects “Injustice” by Making Its Rich Chancellors Even Richer
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.