Cuddle Up With an Antique Teddy Bear

If you are looking for a unique toy to put on a shelf, then you may want to consider an antique teddy bear. You may even want to give an antique teddy bear to new parents to welcome the birth of a new child. They can also make great graduation gifts as many students love to display stuffed bears in their dorm rooms.

Who are some companies who made teddy bears?

Starting about 1902, several different companies made stuffed bears including:

  • Ideal Novelty and Toy Company: Antique bear collectors credit this company with creating the first teddy bear. They covered their first bears in mohair and gave them long tapered arms, padded feet with oval pointed toes, and shoe-knot-eyes.
  • Steiff Manufacturing: This German company created many teddy bears. There first two were Teddy B. and Teddy G. Their Bear PB 55 was the first commercial bear to have movable joints held together with string. The company made Bear PB 55 for many years, but they covered the earliest ones with mohair and gave them wood-wool stuffing. They had shoe-button eyes and five claws that were covered in felt.
  • Le Jouet Champenois: Credited with introducing the teddy bear to France, their early bears had extremely colorful bodies and ear linings. One of the earliest commercially successful bears from this company was named Pierre. His body was covered in kapok while a wood-wool blend served as his stuffing. He had black and amber eyes along with five different joints.
  • J.K. Farnell Company: This British company produced many early teddy bears with cupped ears, thick legs and arms that turned at the wrist.
Factors that can affect the value of antique bears

Many different factors can affect the value of used antique bears. Generally, collectors search for those made before World War I. If the bear initially had a tag, then those with tags are usually more valued. Bears from some companies along with those made in limited numbers often fetch a higher price. Bears with a documented history, especially those belonging to famous people, are often sought by collectors.

Characteristics used to describe antique teddy bears

Since you will not find any tags on many antique teddy bears, collectors generally describe five characteristics. Knowing these things can often help you make an educated guess about the manufacturer. They are:

  • Shape: American-made antique teddy bears usually have a football shape, those made in Germany usually have a humpback, and early bears from Great Britain are usually long and slender.
  • Length of limbs: Many manufacturers used the same length limbs on many of their early teddy bears.
  • Materials: Mohair, kapok, felt and cotton were often used by specific manufacturers in particular locations.
  • Shape and size of muzzle: Many manufacturers used the same shape and size of muzzle on all their teddy bears.