Collecting Old Teddy Bears



Collecting Old Teddy Bears
Teddy Bears
Collecting Old Teddy Bears
Part II: Bears from outside the UK
by Jill Byron
1905 small Ideal bear. (Old
Bear Scene) £395.
1906-1908 Aetna bear. (Old
Bear Scene) £280.
1950s Steiff. £135.
1910-1915 Strunz tumbling
bear. (Bourton Bears) £595.
Blue Petz bear. German.
1940s-50s pink musical Tara
Toys bear.
Theo, a large Knickerbocker
bear. £175.
1930s Fadap bear. (Old
Time Bears)
Large, very rare, BMC
Bears, 1907. (Old Bear
Scene) £1,950. Note label on
right foot.
Old Australian ‘Joy Toys’
bear. £250.
Margarete Steiff started her now famous company, making soft toys in 1880 but the
teddy bears would not be a part of it until 1903, when her nephew, Richard, took some
soft toys and a large bear to a showroom in New York, to promote Steiff goods. There,
an American buyer, Hermann Berg, saw one of the Steiff bears, ‘Bar 55 PB’ and ordered
3,000 of them and the rest, as they say, is history. Steiff’s wonderful old bears are recognised as the ‘Rolls-Royces’ of the bear world and as such, are highly sought after by
collectors, with fabulous sums of money changing hands for several well-known bears
such as ‘Happy’, who was bought for £55,000 by Paul and Rosemary Volpp in 1989
and ‘Teddy Girl’, purchased for £110,000 by Yoshihiro Sekiguchi, President of the
Japanese toy company ‘Sun Arrow’ in 1994. In the year 2000, an old black Steiff, made
as a mourning bear when the Titanic sank in 1912, was sold for £91,750 and ‘Elliot’ a
unique blue Steiff, went to a Canadian buyer for £49,500.
Christie’s held the first ever auction of teddy bears in 1993 and were the sellers of
Happy, Teddy Girl, Elliot and the black Titanic Steiff but as the years have gone past,
even old Steiffs, which would have commanded a high price a few years ago, have
dropped in value, so that it is possible to buy some of them now for a very reasonable
price. I managed to find a 12 inch, 1912 Steiff in October 2008 for just under £600 and
I have a small 1910 white Steiff, for which I paid only £300. Neither of these have a
button in their ears, which is quite a usual occurrence, as mothers would remove the
button to stop them being swallowed by small children. They were, after all, children’s
toys that were meant to be played with and were not the valuable collectors’ items that
they are today. However, Steiff, although by far the name best known to antique dealers
and arctophiles (bear collectors) alike, is far from being the only antique bear manufacturer. Many other firms made soft toys and teddy bears, some of which bore a
remarkable resemblance to Steiff in the early days.
The German manufacturer, Bing, made some beautiful bears, which are very similar to
Steiff in appearance but are actually far rarer, as not nearly as many were made. Bing
also made mechanical walking and tumbling bears which are highly collectable. These
are still very sought after and used to fetch up to £6,000. Some of these, because of their
rarity and desirability, still command good prices today but are not as expensive as they
used to be.
Schuco, another German manufacturer popular with collectors, made some wonderful
bears, many of which were novelty items such as bear powder compacts, lipstick
holders and perfume bottles, usually made in bright colours. These little bears used to
fetch £600 at auction but their value has dropped to half that in the present economic
climate. Schuco also made some marvellous mechanical bears. One of their most
popular ones is the ‘Tricky’ Yes/No musical bear, whose head turns from side to side
and up and down when his tail is twisted. These bears also play a melody and have a
wonderful wistful expression. They were extremely expensive at one time but the
financial market has hit prices of these too and they can now be bought for £300-£400
when once they might have fetched up to £1,500. Hermann Spielwaren and Hermann
Original are two more very popular German companies who are still making bears
today. Hermann Spielwaren has a green label and Hermann Original uses a red one but
as very few old bears have kept these, identifying them is a matter of practice and
research. I have a gorgeous caramel coloured old Hermann that I bought from Vicky
Gwilliam of ‘The Teddy Bear Chest’. He had been in a museum and as Vicky knew I
liked the old Hermanns, she let me know when he became available and ‘Caramel’
joined my hug a few years ago. When I buy from a dealer, I always make sure that they
know their bears. As I have been collecting for a long time now, I recognise many
makes but I still ask a bear restorer friend of mine to identify any I am not sure about.
Other nationalities also made teddies and soft toys. American manufacturers, in
particular ‘Ideal,’ ‘BMC’, ‘American Stuffed Toy Company’, ‘Knickerbocker’,
‘Aetna’, the ‘American Doll and Stuffed Toy Company’ and ‘Gund’, are popular with
collectors. ‘BMC’, (Bruin Manufacturing Company’), were only in production for one
year, so their bears are extremely rare and are usually snapped up as soon as they come
onto the market.
Hazel Jobson, of ‘Old Bear Scene’, has one of these delightful characters for sale at the
time of writing. At one time they would have fetched £3,000-£4,000 but can now be
bought for £1,000-£2,000. She also has a gorgeous ‘Aetna’ bear for sale at £280.
‘Knickerbocker’ and ‘Ideal’ are among the most popular of the American manufacturers. Both made bears with gorgeous faces, and some of the Ideal bears have really
sweet wistful expressions. I have a little Ideal bear named ‘Maisie’, who is completely
bald but who has the most pugnacious expression imaginable! She is a very early bear
Teddy Bears
whom I bought for £90 a long time ago. I couldn’t resist her
face! ‘Theo’ is a very large Knickerbocker bear who I bought
from the same dealer. He is cinnamon in colour and in
profile, looks just like an old bear from a storybook. He was
very reasonable priced at about £175. Knickerbocker teddies
from the 1920s have metal noses and a flatter face, whilst
some of the later bears from the 1950s were produced with
long luxurious mohair. Both may be bought for £100-£200.
They are charming bears and are quite unmistakeable in
Ireland’s ‘Erris Toys’ made their early bears at Elly Bay in
1947. In 1953 they changed their name to ‘Tara’ and this
company became one of the best known of all the Irish
manufacturers. Tara made musical teddies in different
colours, as well as novelty ‘Feed-me’ bears and pandas,
which open their mouths when the tummy is pressed. Both
may be bought for £100 or less if you are lucky. Their
musical bears were once £300-£400 but have dropped in
price to £200-£250, or less if you find a bargain at auction.
Tara also made the ‘Laughing Bear’, which opens and closes
its mouth when a lever in the back of its head is squeezed.
These used to cost £250-£350, but they may be bought at
auction for £60-£70.
Australia had a number of teddy bear makers from the 1930s
to 1960s. Among them were Jakas Soft Toys, Verna Toys,
Joy Toys, Berlex and Barton Waugh. The Berlex bears would
have been worth £200, Joy Toys could have cost £300-£400
and Barton Waugh Could have been £300-£400. Like everything else, the prices will be lower than this now and
‘Gumdrop Editions’ have a Verna Toys bear in very good
condition, priced at only £119, at the time of writing. Sadly,
by the 1970s, almost all of the Australian companies had
gone out of business, because they could not compete with
cheap imports from East Asia.
There were several well-known French teddy bear manufacturers in the early to mid twentieth century. Pintel made
mechanical bears in addition to ‘ordinary’ ones and one of
their most popular examples of these is their somersaulting
bear with a clockwork mechanism, which enables him to
turn somersaults when he is wound up. Pintel also made a
mechanical bear riding a metal tricycle in 1915. This was a
great success and was made until 1940. ‘Fadap’ and ‘Les
Jouets Enchantes’ were also French manufacturers who
made teddy bears. There were several others but French
bears can be very hard to identify because many of them
were made without any label. A Fadap bear could have been
sold for £300-£400 and a Pintel clockwork somersaulting
bear might have made £400-£500. Les Jouets Enchantes
teddies were less valuable at £100-£200.
Poland and Japan also made early bears but American,
German, Irish and French bears are probably the ones most
sought after and easy to find, as there are so many of them.
There were a lot of other companies from outside the UK
which also produced good quality soft toys and bears but
unfortunately there is not enough room to mention them all
here. It is worth remembering that although you will pay
more for a bear from a reputable dealer who specialises in
selling them and consequently knows far more about them
than a novice, you should not be sold a fake, of which there
are all too many. All the dealers mentioned here may be
found in the Hugglets Teddy Bear Guide.
Thanks to Old Bear Scene, Gumdrop Editions, Old Time
Bears, Bourton Bears, All You Can Bear and Blue Ribbon
Bears for their permission to use their photos.
Editor’s Note: On the next two pages I have provided a
sample of bears sold at auction in recent years from our Gold
Services database at
Yes-No musical Schuco. £300. 1950s-60s rare Hermann with
chain. (All You Can Bear)
Nestle, 1950s Knickerbocker.
(Blue Ribbon Bears) £170.
Clemens, German bear.
Tara laughing bear. (Old
Time Bears)
1910 White Steiff. £300.
Redford, early American bear. 1950s Australian Verna bear.
Photo: Sad Pad Bears. £350. (Gumdrop Editions) £119.
Late 40s Diem German bear.
(All You Can Bear) £265.
1918-1920 rare white Bing.
(German) (Bourton Bears)
French bear, probably by
1950s Hermann. £150.
Red Schuco powder puff bear. 1940s Erris Roys bear. (Old
Time Bears)
(All You can Bear) £380.
Sweep, 19in, early American
bear, black and silver. £200.
(Old Bear Scene)
Teddy Bears
Selection of foreign Teddy Bears sales
Rare Steiff black plush teddy
bear, c1915, 16.75in, mohair
good, right paw pad worn,
minor moth damage to other
pads, tears to both legs.
Gorringes, Lewes. Mar 03.
HP: £23,000. ABP: £27,053.
Early 20thC Continental
teddy bear, long gold plush,
straw filled, replaced pads,
24in high, limbs now holed
and leaking. Andrew Hartley,
Ilkley. Sep 03. HP: £3,100.
ABP: £3,646.
Smuggers, early Steiff teddy
bear. old gold mohair, boot
black eyes, stitched nose,
flesh coloured felt pads with
stitched paws, original tag to
ear, pristine condition, 11.5in
high Canterbury Auction
Galleries, Kent. Dec 05. HP:
£2,500. ABP: £2,940.
Early Steiff cinnamon plush
Teddy bear, button in left ear,
boot-button eyes, stitched
snout, jointed limbs, humpback and wood-wool filling,
c1908, 13in, growler inoperative, arm-pads replaced,
repairs to foot-pads.
Gorringes, Lewes. Jun 05.
HP: £1,300. ABP: £1,529.
Small Steiff bear dating from
mid 1920s. Wotton Auction
Rooms, Wotton. Jan 08. HP:
£960. ABP: £1,129.
Early 20thC Steiff teddy bear,
worn cream fur, black button
eyes, hump back, straw filled,
worn felt pads, 10in high.
Andrew Hartley, Ilkley. Mar
02. HP: £800. ABP: £941.
Steiff display teddy bear,
mohair plush, 5in high, need
of restoration. Holloway’s,
Banbury. Feb 07. HP:
£13,000. ABP: £15,291.
Prices quoted are actual
hammer prices (HP) and the
Approximate Buyer’s Price.
(ABP) Includes an average
premium of 15% + VAT.
1930s German mechanical
teddy bear, original leather
shoes. Biddle & Webb,
Birmingham. May 03. HP:
£3,000. ABP: £3,528.
Early 20thC Steiff teddy bear
in pale gold blush, humped
back, long arms, large feet,
growl, 17in high. Andrew
Hartley, Ilkley. Mar 02. HP:
£2,400. ABP: £2,823.
Steiff cinnamon plush Teddy
bear, wood-wool filling, glass
eyes, stitched snout, jointed
limbs, original pads, hump to
back and growler, 1920s,
16in, pads holed. Gorringes,
Lewes. Mar 06. HP: £1,100.
ABP: £1,293.
Steiff cinnamon bear, (faded)
c1910, hump, long arms,
carved paws, large feet,
button in ear, pronounced
nose, boot button eyes, pads
replaced, worn, repaired.
Gorringes, Lewes. Mar 01.
HP: £700. ABP: £823.
Steiff cinnamon teddy bear,
later repairs, replacement
eyes, c1906, 25in high. Tring
Market Auctions, Herts. May
02. HP: £4,000. ABP: £4,705.
Steiff centre seam teddy bear,
c1908, golden mohair, 21in
high, holes and moth holes in
felt pads. Halls Fine Art,
Shrewsbury. Dec 03. HP:
£3,000. ABP: £3,528.
Steiff blond plush hump back
growler teddy bear, c1910,
46cm high, areas of wear,
pads replaced. Rupert Toovey
& Co, Washington. Sep 03.
HP: £2,100. ABP: £2,470.
Early 20thC Steiff teddy bear,
straw filled, pale gold plush,
swivel joints, shaved snout,
black button eyes, humped
back, long arms, felt pads,
faulty growl, metal button to
left ear, 13in high, c1910.
Hartleys, Ilkley. Apr 08. HP:
£1,000. ABP: £1,176.
Steiff blonde plush teddy bear,
c1910, boot-button eyes,
beige needlework snout, hump
to back, original pads, plush
in good condition, 14in.
Gorringes, Lewes. Jul 02.
HP: £650. ABP: £764.
1920s Steiff two tone plush
teddy bear, rare ‘startled’
eyes, stitched muzzle, two
replaced pads, button to ear,
18in. Gorringes, Lewes. Feb
09. HP: £4,000. ABP: £4,705.
Early Steiff bear, humped
back, long limbs, pronounced
snout, boot button eyes,
growler mechanism - partly
working. Cotswold Auction
Company, Cirencester. Jan
07. HP: £2,800. ABP: £3,293.
Early 20thC Continental
teddy bear, straw filled, dark
gold plush, black button eyes,
humped back, long swivel
arms, and legs, 16in high,
possibly Steiff. Andrew
Hartley, Ilkley. Mar 06. HP:
£1,500. ABP: £1,764.
White Steiff teddy bear,
brown stitched nose, glass
eyes, ear stud, 1920s, 43cm
high, known as Schnauzi.
John Taylors, Louth. Sep 03.
HP: £980. ABP: £1,152.
Steiff Teddy bear, pale plush
mohair, button in ear, bootbutton eyes, stitched snout,
hump-back, jointed limbs,
12.5in, wear, and a smaller
German mohair Teddy bear,
8.5in. Gorringes, Lewes. Jun
06. HP: £600. ABP: £705.
Teddy Bears
Steiff Teddy bear, 16in. with
button to left ear. Gorringes,
Lewes. Oct 06. HP: £600.
ABP: £705.
Blonde Steiff teddy bear with
glass eyes, ear stud, 1920s,
27cm high. John Taylors,
Louth. Sep 03. HP: £450.
ABP: £529.
Steiff ‘Bruin’ teddy bear,
straw filled, dark gold plush,
amber eyes, growl, swivel
limbs, felt pads, 20in high,
pre-war. Andrew Hartley,
Ilkley. Mar 06. HP: £290.
ABP: £341.
Mechanical teddy bear, straw
filled, covered in fawn plush
with black and clear button
eyes, swivel limbs, felt pads,
head rocks back and forth,
tail operates turning head,
8.5in high, probably German
pre-war. Andrew Hartley,
Ilkley. Mar 06. HP: £190.
ABP: £223.
1920s small Steiff brown
plush teddy bear, humped
back, glass eyes and stitched
nose and mouth, button ear,
7in. Gorringes, Lewes. Sep
08. HP: £150. ABP: £176.
Steiff pull-along bear on
wheels, straw stuffed, fabric
worn, button in ear, amber
eyes, four legs, on cast iron
frame with four wheels, 32in
long. Andrew Hartley, Ilkley.
Sep 05. HP: £560. ABP: £658.
Small Steiff Teddy bear, beige
plush, boot-button eyes, hump
and jointed limbs, original
button in left ear, c1910,
10in. Gorringes, Lewes. Jun
05. HP: £360. ABP: £423.
Images are in descending
hammer price order. The
price range is indicated at
the start of each section.
Early 20thC Continental
teddy bear, dark gold plush
cover, straw filled black
button eyes, pointed nose,
slightly humped back,
replaced pads, 17in high,
very worn. Hartles,, Ilkley.
Sep 01. HP: £520. ABP: £611.
Teddy Bear, c1930, possibly
American, gold plush, humpback, glass eyes, jointed
limbs, 17.5in, growler inoperative. Gorringes, Lewes.
Mar 03. HP: £180. ABP: £211.
Small mohair Teddy Bear,
possibly Bing, c1910, boot
button eyes, jointed limbs,
plush worn, 8in. Gorringes,
Lewes. Jan 03. HP: £360.
ABP: £423.
Brown Steiff teddy bear, glass
eyes, ear stud, open mouth,
c1929, 26cm high, known as
Ju-Ju. John Taylors, Louth.
Sep 03. HP: £520. ABP: £611.
Early 20thC Steiff teddy bear,
stitched body, 15in high,
later repair, poor condition.
Tring Market Auctions,
Herts. Jan 03. HP: £260.
ABP: £305.
Steiff bear with growler,
playworn to head, ear torn,
one pad replaced. Kent
Auction Galleries, Folkestone.
Oct 05. HP: £140. ABP: £164.
German Teddy Bear, c1920,
possibly Bing, light brown
mohair, hump-back, bootbutton eyes, jointed limbs,
13.5in, growler inoperative.
Gorringes, Lewes. Mar 03.
HP: £260. ABP: £305.
1930s Steiff plush brown
bear. Great Western
Auctions, Glasgow. Feb 06.
HP: £350. ABP: £411.
Schuco ‘Piccolo’ series ‘YesNo’ teddy bear, gold plush,
5in and a green plush teddy
bear, 4in. Gorringes, Lewes.
Apr 04. HP: £170. ABP: £199.
Tara Toys (Ireland) Teddy
Bear, c1950, gold plush with
jointed limbs, 18in tall.
Gorringes, Lewes. Oct 02.
HP: £100. ABP: £117.
Pre-war Continental
standing brown bear, amber
and brown glass eyes, straw
stuffed, 2 replaced red pads,
16in long. Andrew Hartley,
Ilkley. Sep 01. HP: £50.
ABP: £58.
German Teddy bear, possibly
Bing, 12.5in, pads replaced.
Gorringes, Lewes. Nov 05.
HP: £460. ABP: £541.
Teddy bear, made in 1920s in
a style made for Gebruder
Bing, approx 2ft tall, pretty
short golden plush fur,
superb condition for its age.
Wallis & Wallis, Lewes. Jun
05. HP: £300. ABP: £352.
French mid 20thC teddy
bear, gold plush, black and
clear button eyes, swivel
head and limbs, replaced
pads, lambskin collar and
muff, 24in high. Andrew
Hartley, Ilkley. Sep 05. HP:
£220. ABP: £258.
Teddy bear, German or
American, beige plush, woodwool filling, glass eyes,
upright ears, stitched snout
and claws, jointed limbs, felt
pads, c1920, 32in.
Gorringes, Lewes. Mar 05.
HP: £160. ABP: £188.
Small gold plush teddy bear,
wide pricked ears, embroidered pointed snout and open
mouth, possibly German,
8.5in high. Fellows & Sons,
Brimingham. Oct 03. HP:
£50. ABP: £58.

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