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The Teddy Bear and The War Years

The Teddy Bear and The War Years The War Years 1914 to 1915


The Ban on German Imports to Britain invigorates the British Teddy Bear industry which really begins to take off in this era due to the evergrowing popularity of the Teddy Bear as a Stuffed Toy many English Factories have been thriving. 

Ealon Toys, ‘The East London Federation Toy Factory’, is founded by Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst. William H. Jones establishes a soft toy firm after his failure to gain employment as an agent for German Toy firms. The ‘Teddy Toy’ company is founded by B.C. Hope and Abe Simmonds. Harwin & Co, founded by a former Steiff Toys sales agent. 


1914 to 1918 


The First World War disrupts Teddy Bear production in Germany as men are called up for military service.  In addition factories are recqusitioned for war work. The Steiff Factory makes armaments and aeroplane parts. International Borders are closed preventing exports. The Steiff Paris Agents ‘Margarete Steiff Freres are closed.


1915 to 1916


British Toy  Firms Dean’s and Chad Valley produce the first jointed mohair teddies

Patriotic bears are made by British firms such as Dean’s ‘The Bear of Russia’, ‘Germany’s Crusher’ and Harwin’s ‘Ally Bear’. 

1919

One of the first major French Manufacturers of Teddy Bears Thiennot are established 

The Chiltern Toy Works is left to Leon Rees following the death of Josef Eisenmann

The ‘Daily Herald’, British Newspaper first features the comic strip teddy bear ‘Bobby Bear’.


1919 to 1921


Steiff Bears are made out of an unusual material from reconstituted nettle plants due to the fabric shortages 

1920

February

The Teddy Toy company in London patents ‘Softanlite’, a new form of stuffing, Kapok. This is copied by other british firms during the early 1920s for example W.J Terry Bears used ‘Ahsolite’, and Chad Valley’s ‘Aerolite’. 

November

Writer Mary Tourtel’s Creation ‘Rupert Bear’ first appears in the British newspaper ‘The Daily Express’.

Chad Valley moves it’s toy production from Birmingham to Wellington Shropshire

Farnell’s Harry Stone and Leon Rees form an alliance and establish H.G. Stone to produce Chiltern Soft Toys

French Teddy Bear Manufacturer Thiennot wins a bronze medal for their teddy design at ‘Lepine’ competition


1920s and 1930s 


Ban on toy imports from Germany and imposition of import duty leads UK firms such as Chad Valley, H.G. Stone, Merrythought, Deans and J.K. Farnell  to expand in both UK and foreign markets. 


1921 to 1929 

J.K. Farnell establish the trade name ‘Alpha’ and become a Private Limited Company: Alpha Works Built

A.A. Milnes wife buys a Farnell Bear from Harrods London most possibly  an ‘Alpha’ bear for their son Christopher Robin’s first birthday 

Glass eyes are introduced by Steiff who also begin to use Kapok Stuffiing. Production is modernised in the Steiff Factory as a conveyor belt system is introduced. 

Schreyer & Co., registers the trademark ‘Schuco’, and patents the famous ‘Yes/No’ Bears 

Following the popularity of ‘The Daily Express’, comic strips the Very first ‘Rupert Bear’ merchandise is produced. 

1923

Chiltern Hugmee Bears are advertised for the first time

1925 to 1928 

Novelty Bears in unusual mohairs such as the ‘Dual’ plush are introduced. Gebruder Sussenguth’s rather scary open mouthed bear with rolling eyes ‘Peter’, is manufactured and more novelty bears such as swiss squeeze type musical teddy bears are introduced

1926

The all time Childhood Classic ‘Winnie the Pooh’, by A.A.Milne is published.

Clown teddies wearing pointy hats and ruffs in the Pierrot fashion become popular such as Steiff’s clown bear and Chad Valley’s Tubby Bear

1929 

Economic Depression hits following the Wall Street Crash many people resort to producing their own teddy bears from cheap patterns out of household materials such as burlap and old blankets. Manufacturers economise on materials creating bears such as the ‘Stick Bears’, in the US 

Artificial Silk Bears become popular and are advertised by companies such as a J.K. Farnell who make their  ‘Silkalite’ Teddy Bear and Chiltern’s ‘Silky Teddy’, 

Following their increased success British Company J.K. Farnell opens showrooms in Paris and New York. 


1930 to 1937


Ever the innovators Steiff launch exciting new designs ‘Teddy Baby’, and ‘Dicky’ bear which would have a profound effect on the market. 

English Teddy Bear Company ‘Merrythought Ltd.’ Established in Ironbridge Shropshire

‘Mary Plain’, by Gwynaed Rae published and the stories character is produced as a popular soft toy by J.K. Farnell

Jimmy Kennedy  remakes ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’, adding extra lyrics to the tune. 


1930 to 1935


Following the success of A.A.Milne’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’ stories Pooh Bear toys and games are produced in the UK By Chad Vally and Teddy Toy Co., and in the US by Parker brothers and F.W. Woolnough

1930s 

Novelty Teddies such as Schuco’s miniature bears, Schuco’s compact bears and nightdresses become popular. 

1933 

In Germany Hitler comes to power and the rise of the National Socialist Party has an impact on the German Toy industry. The Steiff Factory is affected as Enrst and Hugo Steiff are removed from the office because of their Jewish sympathies. In Schuco Adolf Kahn who is a Jew has to leave for England.

1935

Nylon is invented by US Firm W.H. Carothers

1937

Pedigree Soft Toys is launched by British Firm ‘Lines Bros.’ Who are at that time one of the worlds largest toy manufacturers 

In England the Coronation of George VI following Edward VIII’s abdication inspires Patriotic Teddy Bears in Red, White and Blue. 

The first Giant Panda is received by Chicago Zoo and Panda Teddies become the latest craze. 


1938 to 1934


1938

Chad Valley is awarded the Royal Warrant  by appointment to HM The Queen Elizabeth the wife of King George VI which then appears on their labels. 

Nylon is used in Teddy Bear production for the first time

1939 

World War Two breaks out the lack of workers and financial pressures or the requirement to support the war works causes many Teddy Bear factories to cease production 


Late 1930s to 1950s 


A change in Teddy Bear design as the ‘all in one’ pattern becomes popular due to the savings on material 


1940 to 1945


Many raw materials are unavailable or in short supply resulting in lesser output and many economy measure. The use of alternative fabrics and more new Teddy Bear designs incorporating economy features such as shorter limbs and muzzles, flat faces such as the Flat Face Chiltern Bears and unjointed necks are used by manufacturers. 

Women’s magazines support the cause by publishing free patterns for bears to be made by unravelling wool from old clothes

Teddy Bear firms are obliged to do essential war work. English Teddy Bear company Dean’s makes life jackets, Chad Valley manufactures Childrens clothing and Merrythought produces Military uniform accessories. Likewise in Germany the Steiff company makes munitions and Schuco Telephone and communications equipment. 

Many Factories such a J.K. Farnell and Schuco suffer air raid damage

1941

In the UK J.R. Whinfield and J.T. Dickson invent Polyester

1944

In America Smokey the Bear becomes the mascot of the US Forest Fire Prevention Campaign


1945 to 1950 

1945 

The Second World Wars ends and Germany becomes partitioned into four military zones.