5. Winnie-the-Pooh and his band of friends

Winnie-the-Pooh dolls in the Polonsky Exhibition of NYPL Treasures
Winnie the Pooh & Friends. Photo by Robert Kato

We’ve all heard the tales of Winnie-the Pooh and his friends Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Piglet, and Roo but you might not have known that the stories were inspired by a collection of toys owned by author A.A. Milne’s young son Christopher Robin. For his first birthday in 1921, Christopher was gifted a stuffed teddy bear from a Harrods department store in London that would later be christened as Winnie-the Pooh. Over the years, Christopher’s collection of stuffed animals grew, coming to include all of the classic faces that now make up Milne’s whimsical childhood series. 

In 1947, the toys — minus Roo who was lost one day in an apple orchard — were brought over to the United States and remained with Milne’s American publisher E.P. Dutton until 1987. Afterward, the toys were donated to the New York Public Library, with Christopher requesting that they be placed on display as much as possible so that everyone, but especially children, could enjoy the warmth and laughter they had brought him.