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Bear Care

Bear Care for Antique Teddy Bears and Vintage Bears


We want you to help you look after your Bear the best you can.
Read our Hints and Tips on Caring for Antique and Vintage Teddies.
You have visited Ancestral Bears, and it has happened you have met the bear of your dreams and now it is only a matter of time before you are together!

An Antique Bear or Vintage Teddy Bear is a precious heirloom item to be preserved for future generations. It is important that you and Bear get along together and you know how to care for him (or her) in the best way.

Of course the guidelines given here apply not only to Vintage Teddy Bears but also to vintage soft toys and Teddy Bear friends of all kinds and ages!

Before we begin it is important to note that there are two main things to consider. Firstly, if a Bear is very Valuable for example an Antique Steiff Teddy Bear it is probably recommended that any restoration is only undertaken by an expert as an ‘unsuccessful operation’ by an inexperienced Bear Nurse can have a negative impact on the value of your bear.

Having said that it is also important to understand that proper care and attention and restoration of your bear can help him live a long happy life and help preserve his condition for a long time to come!

Some people love their Teddy Bears warts and all and see every bit of wear and tear and old repair as an important part of their history and character. A patched paw might have been made from mummy’s old dress, the button eyes might have been the favourites from Grandmother's button tin. Other Bear owners are purists and want their bears in as near original condition as possible. Whichever camp you fall into there are lots of helpful hints and tips here to set you on the right track.

When you buy a Vintage Teddy Bear from Ancestral Bears we have already given him his ‘Medical’ so he will have no major issues and his condition will be clearly described to you and if you have any questions we are always here to help!

However, out in the big wide world things might not be quite so clear. As your Teddy Bear would say, if you go down to the woods today you need to be able to see the trees!

If you are lucky enough to inherit an old Bear the First thing you need to do is give him his Bear ‘Medical’ and check his condition.

Your Bear’s Medical: What Condition is he in?

Every collectors dream you have stumbled across a super old bear in the attic or you have inherited a precious Old Bear from a friend or family member. First of all you need to check his condition. Like anyone having a routine check up we need to give him a really good once over!

Is Teddy Bear a bit Dirty?

Old Teddy Bears have often been stored for a long time in an old box in the attic or garage during which time they can become very dusty or dirty, have acquired a few new ‘friends’ in the fur or stuffing, or have become damp and horror of horrors, a wee bit smelly.

How are his old Joints?

Has your bear got moveable limbs. Early Vintage Bears and Antique Teddy Bears were made with disc joints that were often made of hardboard or even cardboard in some cases, if the bear has been damp the cotter pin joints can rust and the discs wear down. This often results in a limb falling off! Antique Bears look appealing with a little play in their joints as this gives them a kind of slumped ‘Hug Me Now!’ appeal and a wistful angle to the head however if the limb or head is nearly falling off it needs sorting out.

Has he got any bits sticking out of him?

Antique and Vintage Teddy Bears were not made to the rigorous standards of todays children's toys so of course any Bears or vintage toys for sale on this site are Collector's items only and not for children! In an Antique Bear often a squeaker may have worn, joints may be sticking out, eyes may be damaged, lost or falling off so all this needs checking out.

Is he a Hair Bear or a Bare Bear?

Depending on how much your Teddy Bear has been loved in his life will have a direct impact on how much hair he has left! Sometimes it makes me sad to see an Antique Teddy in Perfect condition as I know that they have been deprived of hugs throughout their life. When you buy an old bear you often see that his tummy is Bare where an overenthusiastic owner has had endless ‘conversations’ with Teddy and his squeaker. One arm is often more bald than the other and you know that this arm was the one that he got carried everywhere with, on the school bus, to the picnic or up and down the stairs like Christoper Robin.

Of course many collectors prize ‘Well Furred’ bears above all and a bear with a nice thick fur coat will command a high price. In recent times in the Teddy Bear Collector’s market ‘Bald Bears’ have been rapidly gaining in popularity! Bears from the early 1900s have increased in price dramatically and often a collector is happy to have a period bear at an affordable price that may be a bit ‘fur challenged’ and love him simply for his personality and charm! This phenomenon is particularly pertinent to early Steiff Bears. Many people dream of owning an Antique Steiff Bear and are perfectly happy with an almost hairless bear!

Often the most worn Vintage Teddy Bears are the most characterful and have the most endearing and appealing faces and personalities! It is all down to choice and why you collect bears in the first place. Are they your friends or your investments, or both. Either way Teddy needs caring for properly.

With an Old Teddy even once all the fur has worn off he can often be quite stable in condition but if he has holes or very seriously worn areas particularly around the joints or in places that are allowing his stuffing to ‘bleed’ this is painful for your bear and needs sorting at the first opportunity!

Does your Bear need ‘Feeding Up’

Stuffing in vintage Teddies can often deteriorate wood wool (excelsior) or often described as ‘straw stuffing’, (although it is of course made from wood shavings), after years of being squeezed and hugged can break down and just become a fine dust inside your bear. If this has happened he will look very limp and undernourished and Teddy will most definitely need ‘Feeding up’ with some new stuffing!

Does Bear need a Makeover

Antique Bears and Vintage Teddy Bears were generally made from the finest quality and sturdiest materials if it wasn’t for this fact there would be far less Bear survivors from the early 1900s around today! Often a bear needs nothing more that a bit of a ‘Spruce Up’ after being neglected for years, a bit of care and attention and some careful grooming will soon put a sparkle back in his eyes!

Care Plan for Teddy Bear.

Once you have assessed your bear's condition it may be worth just making a quick note of any ‘treatment’ you decide to give him. You may need to source essential supplies like replacement glass eyes, wood wool stuffing or other materials. There are some excellent specialists in Teddy Bear supplies on the internet and today almost anything can be sourced with a little bit of research. If you need any help drop me a line and I will be happy to help!

To be continued...