Antique Teddy Bears-How one can Know how Old Teddy Is

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FUR OR FABRIC

Mohair was used originally. Very soft and silky, it is a fabric woven from angora goat fleece. Artificial silk plush was used from the 1920s, in various colours, with nylon plush invented in 1938. Sheepskin was popular in the 1930s and 40s. Mohair or mohair/synthetic plush continued to be most popular until the 1950s when acrylic plush was increasingly used. Synthetic plushes were further developed within the 60s, with the machine washable bear promoted for children!

Felt was used for the pads of the earliest bears. Later, after WW1, cotton was popular (as cotton, brushed or velveteen). Rexine was used by some British and Australian manufacturers, which was a coated oilcloth. By the 1960s, synthetic fabrics were increasingly used.

STUFFING

The earliest bears were full of woodwool (excelsior), made from long, fine wood shavings. This gave the teddy a crunchy feel if squeezed. Later, after 1914, kapok (a silky fibre from the seed pod of a tropical tree, much like silky cotton wool) came into use. Teddies stuffed with kapok feel firmer and heavier, and resist insect attack. WW2 meant kapok was now not available for toy use, as it was used to line life jackets for soldiers, and so “substitute(sub) became popular, being the waste from textile mills. Cork granules or rubber were also occasionally used, which tended to interrupt down over time, giving ted a strange sensation of movement within!

By the 1960s, plastic foam (a shredded, sponge-like foam) was most popular, as it allowed for teddies to be wholly synthetic and machine washable. Polyester wadding was used from the 1970s until the present time.

SHAPE

There are a multitude of shapes and styles, however the shape of the teddy bear has changed from its inception, and might help to date when it was made.

The very earliest bears had a comparitively pointed snout and longer limbs. Shorter, stumpy limbs were popular within the 1950s. The unjointed, splayed-arms bear was typically 1960s or 70s, by several firms.

Early bears were jointed with cardboard or metal discs, attached with metal pins, which can sometimes show as rust through the fabric. Plastic joints were first used within the 1960s.

EYES

Originally, from 1902-1915, teddy bear eyes were wooden or leather-covered wooden boot buttons, on wire hooks or shanks. Glass eyes replaced these from WW1, in various forms-amber or blue, and black, or clear with painted backs. Glass eyes are cooler and harder than plastic eyes-putting your lips on them to feel how cool, and tapping your teeth on the eyes can give a very good indication! Also, glass eyes are rounder, if you feel behind them with your fingers.

From 1955, plastic screw-in eyes were being used by most makers, as a safety precaution for children. Law requires that manufacturers use these, unless the teddy is labelled as not being a toy.

NOSE

Generally, noses were originally hand-stiched with black or brown thread. Many makers had their own distinctive shape. Some also chose to make use of curled leather, painted composition or gutta-percha (a natural type of plastic).

From 1945, moulded plastic first came into use. Some teddies were also made with a painted tin or moulded rubber noses.

After 1970, plastic safety noses are most often used as toy teddies for children.

fake antique teddy bears

Teddy and bears

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sendingRoy Staples. 5 months ago

I’ve a 24 inch long teddy bear..I’m pretty sure it’s over 60 years old..its head is filled with wood wool (excelsior) it feels crunchy while you squeeze it..the rest of the body is some sort of stuffing.I am 61 years old and it was at home when I used to be a child. I seen one like it on Antiques Road show and the person said that the nose on that one was worth about 20,000 American. The nose on mine looked the identical…a moulded plastic or something…the nose fell off of mine and i see that it was fastened on with a metal stub. Would any body on here know any thing about it ? I live in New Brunswick Canada. rstaples@nb.sympatico.ca

elizabeth 8 months ago

Hi, I’ve just bought a lovely old large bear…..glass eyes, straw filled, small hump on back, mohair coat, fully jointed, I assumed he is likely to be a Chad Valley but I am not to sure. I can not see any where I can load a photograph. Thanking you.

Dana r. 10 months ago

I am searching for the plush Winnie the Pooh from late 60s, early 70s…he had a bell in his ear. Any suggestions?

Tammy wike 10 months ago

In late 1970’s my dad bought me s teddy bear, dark brown.. he was red and white striped on his body arms and legs and had a zip up fur that covered his legs and arms and torso, back. You could possibly remove the “coat/fur” on his body! I’ve LOST IT! Had anyone ever seen a bear like this or know of where I could find one?

Barb 13 months ago

My brother had a brown teddy bear with light paws and face. He had it in late 1970s. He wasn’t very big. Don’t know who made it. Am trying to find an exact or almost exact one like that for him.

He was wanting to maintain it cuz it’s his childhood bed toy.

Please help me with this.

Thanks

Wennona 16 months ago

Hi there I’ve a teddy , he is in excellent condition, he has bells in both ears and his growler still works. It was given to my boy in the mid 60’s but it surely was not new at this time. I wish to know who was the maker and approximate age. Thanks

julie 19 months ago

Hi I’ve a teddy am quiet sure its a dog it’s wood stuffed and really old could u give me more information on him please if I posted an image thank you Julie x

ann 23 months ago

I had a monkey he had brown rubber face )

mandymoo65 3 years ago

i’ve a hermann original 12 inch musical mohair jointed brown bear tune is letme be your teddy bear, mohair is thining. complete with tags and limited edition no 166 of 2000 anyone know his age?

karen west 3 years ago

hi.i have an old teddy bear but no history on it.its about 18″ golden iin coloured with glass eyss that are orangey brown with black in middle..its hard head n soft body.black stiched nose.both arms and legs have a patch that appears like its leather.and the arms and legs are moveable also the head is moveable too.if anyone can me any info on thee bear would be great.and if i need to incorporate it on my insurance. this is the photo of the bear i hope someone can wish to know its age.

Debbie Greenhalgh 3 years ago

Hi. I am trying to research the origins of my teddy given to me 40 yrs ago by an elderly lady who also had as a baby. Wooden joints and wood shavings? I think. Very crunchy to squeeze. Button eyes but my mother may have done a fix with these. Little bit of a snout but well used so could have been longer. Brown stitching for mouth and nose and what looks like cotton fabric for pads. He has a component label with the letters jrel or urel both sides of letters are freyed so hard to inform. I hope someone could shed some light on this. I would be over the moon if you might.

Jenny 3 years ago

I’m hoping to find out the value of my Teddy Bear, I had it in 1960. It has splayed arms and legs, black stitch nose, stuffed with foam bits, it did have a label on its foot which has come off, it’s about 36″ tall. Do not know the maker.

bearwood7 3 years ago

I’ve a really old small bear with boot button eyes and a small leather nose. He’s straw filled and made from mohair. Was told he was made in 1917 but that is all I do know

Tolly 3 years ago

Hi, I used to be talking with my mom about her childhoor Teddy Bear and the way in which she described it sounded prefer it was one made across the 60′ (that may make sense, since she was a child around that point) but she said the Teddy Bear’s eyes were manufactured from leather, is that possible? Since you said around the 60′ the eyes were made from other matirials.

Ollie 3 years ago

I had/got a really will loved childhood bear, he was light brown with blue eyes with black ears an nose, he also got black paws an bottom of his feet, he’s a real Fred bear now an all tho I could neaver replace him I might love one just like him, can anyone help me

John 3 years ago

I have a we yellow teddy about 11 inch he has glass or plastic eyes his head and legs feel very heavy like cardboard or something inside head he has a black waist coat its a part of bear fur got him at jumble sale never seen anything near it so please get bak to me

Ashley 3 years ago

Hi! I have a Sterling Best Ever teddy bear that I am trying to find out how old it is they become a part of us! Do you have any pictures of him? Did his arms and legs move? Was he a hard plastic or was he squishy? Several companies could have made him, but I’ll look into it and reply again soon! Thanks. 🙂

Maire 6 years ago

I was wondering in case you might know something about plastic teddies. Mine was about ten inches tall and plastic, it had like a dimple surface for a skin and it was an off white color. I believe it may have come from relatives from America when I used to be born in 1961. Unfortunately my husband burned it and i just can not forget it.

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