A Teddy Bear A to Z Collector's Guide
The traditional understanding of the word Antique is over 100 years old, however, many collectors and dealers classify Teddy Bears dating from around the 1940's and earlier as Antique due to their Traditional methods of Construction.
Not to be confused with Antique an ‘Antiqued’ Bear is a Teddy Bear that is given the appearance of greater age than it has. Depending on the morals of the seller sometimes Antiqued Bears are passed off as the original items when in fact they are faked reproductions. However, for most seriousTeddy Bear Collectors the authenticity of a Bear and the true effects of Age are easily recognised. Auction sites tend to be rife with reproductions and inexperienced dealers wrongly attributing the age and make of a vintage bear so are often a case of buyer beware. For example one only has to browse the pages of certain auction sites to see a vast amount of rather dubious bears attributed to Steiff.
After the material shortages of the Second World War, Teddy Bear manufacturers looked towards alternative materials such as Acrylic, Polymethyl Methacrylate which is a synthetically produced fibre used in Dralon and particularly upholstery and curtain fabrics, due to its soft and warm quality. The Potential for Acrylic Plush to be used in Teddy Bear Making rapidly caught on particularly in the 1960'swith Bear Makers such as Wendy Boston producing many washable synthetic bears.
A technique used by makers of Artist Bears and some Traditional Teddy Bear Manufacturers such asSteiff to add facial and other details to a Teddy Bear, achieved by spray painting over the often clipped plush by an Airgun using compressed air.
Alpaca is a natural fibre that comes from the small Goat like mammal of the Llama Family. Alpaca has a curly and strong fleece with a woolly texture.
From the Mid-Century Period many famous Teddy Bear Manufacturers recognising the amount of interest in Teddy Bear Collecting started reproducing famous Bears. Teddy Bear Factories such asSteiff and Merrythought have done this with great success particularly since the 1980s. Often these Bears commemorate an important Date such as the Steiff Titanic Bear and Coronation Bears.
The Greek Prefix which means Relating to or Concerned with Bears which has given birth to the wordsArctophile meaning someone who is passionate about Teddy Bears such as a Collector and Arctophiliathe love or obession with Teddy Bears finally Arctophily which is a posh name for the hobby of collecting Teddy Bears.
In Welsh ‘Arth’ means bear, so if someone is called ‘Arthur’ are they bear like? Anyway Arthur would make a great Teddy Bear name.
Artificial Silk Plush
Artificial Silk or Art Silk was particularly popular in the 1940's when bear makers such as Chiltern andMerrythought amongst others made beautiful ranges of Colourful Teddy Bears in Pink Plush and Blue Plush. Art Silk is a man-made fibre made from wood pulp or cellulose to make a soft and silky fur fabric that was substituted for Mohair. First invented in the 1880's it gained popularity for used inTeddy Bear and Soft Toy Making in the 1920's and peaked in popularity in 1940's Teddy Bears.
Originally an American Phenomenon Artist Bears gained great popularity from the 1980's period onwards a whole industry of Bear Making Awards and Exhibitions opening up around this such as theToby Awards. Artists Bears are often OOAK or ‘One of a Kind’ Bears or Limited Edition Teddy Bearsthat have been Handmade to a high Standard. In recent years Artist Bears in realistic designs have gained lots of popularity although Artist Bears tend to fall into the categories of either Traditional or Fantasy. Many Teddy Bear Collectors enjoy collecting Artist Bears and particularly Traditional Design Teddy Bears blend well with a collection of Antique Teddy Bears.
Bamse is the Danish and Norwegian translation for Teddy Bear
If you lived in Iceland you would call your Teddy Bear ‘Bangsi’
Similar to the German Word Baren is used in Sweden for Teddy Bear
Bat Wing Nose
It is often possible to assist identification of a Teddy Bear by the Style of Nose Stitching. A Bat Wing Nose is a distinctive type of stitching that droops down at the sides resembling the wings of a Bat.French Teddy Bears often have Bat Wing Noses and this type of stitching was used by French Teddy Bear Makers Fadap and Pintel.
Not quite as easy on the tongue the Indonesian name for Teddy Bear
In the modern age it is easy to source as whole host of custom made materials for Soft Toy andTeddy Bear Making. When the Teddy Bear was first conceived in the early 1900's Bear Makers looked to currently available materials to make their Teddy Bears. At this time Lady's Leather Gloves and Boots particularly were fastened with a multitude of Tiny Buttons made from either metal or wood pulp along the leather. Teddy Bear manufacturers such as Steiff recognised that these made an idealTeddy Bear Eye. The earliest and rarest Teddy Bears made by Steiff in the first decades of the 1900'shave Boot Button Eyes.
Burlap or Hessian is a coarse cheap fabric woven from the natural materials Hemp or Jute that was often used in blankets and sacks in the War time. Particularly during times of material shortages Soft Toys such as Teddy Bears were sometimes made from this material. In the First and Second World War periods many Home Made Teddy Bears were made from Burlap created from Free Sewing Patterns that were given away in Women's Magazines of the era.
Celluloid is an Early Plastic type material made from Pyroxylin, derived from Cellulose, and Camphor. In the 1940's and 1950's Dolls were often made from Celluloid and sometimes the faces of Vintage Soft Toys were made from Celluloid and attached to a Fabric or Plush body. Celluloid is prone to deterioration and is highly flammable so popularity for its use in Toy manufacture ceased.
Centre Seam Bear
The Steiff Centre Seam Bear is highly Sought after. The mythology around the Centre Seam Bearstems from the fact that to maximise on material supplies Steiff found a way of cutting an extra head piece out of their material supplies by cutting the part of the head gusset in two pieces and stitching together along a Centre Seam. This proved necessary in production for every Seventh Teddy Bearsubsequently making Centre Seam Bears by Steiff quite rare and are now highly sought after by Teddy Bear Collectors. This appealing feature of a Centre Seam along the Teddy Bear's head is mimicked by many Bear Artists who wish to make Authentic Antique Style Bears.
Bear Makers often cut the Mohair on Teddy Bear's faces short particularly around the muzzle or eyes to improve the appearance of a Teddy Bear. Sometimes this is referred to as a form of Facial Sculpting.
Traditional Teddy Bear Design has Teddy Bears made with Old Fashioned Cotter Pin Joints. Cotter Pin Joints are made out of Card or Wood discs joined together by a Cotter Pin a kind of two-pronged metal split pin. This creates a flexible and durable jointing system that allows the Teddy Bear's arms, legs and head to move.
Similar to Art Silk, Cotton Plush was made from Cotton and proved an inexpensive alternative toMohair for Teddy Bear making that gain in popularity following the material shortages of the Second World War. Sadly Cotton Plush tends to get matted and moth eaten so Old Teddy Bears made from this material do not wear as well as Antique Mohair Teddy Bears of the same period. Even makersSteiff produced some Cotton Plush Teddy Bears in the 1940/50's and these when they come on the market tend to be in poor condition.
Cotton Waste or Sub Waste
A cheap waste material product from fabric production that was used by Soft Toy Makers during the wartime material shortages when more expensive materials such as Kapok were not available and continued in usage as Teddy Bear Stuffing for a long while afterwards. Usually recognisable as an overall grey colour with flecks of other colour material residues. Sometimes described as ‘Sub’.
Another word for Cotter Pin Joints made from Wood or cardboard or hardboard discs secured byCotter Pins to joint a Teddy Bear and allow movement of the limbs and head.
Often used in Antiqued or Antique Style Teddy Bears this is a special kind of Mohair Fur Fabric that has gone through a special process to make it look Antique. This was developed by the use of a Velvet Crushing Machine. Many Teddy Bear Artists employ the use of Distressed Mohair which mimics the worn and well-loved appearance of Antique Bears.
Usually made from Natural Mohair, Dual Plush or Tipped Plush is coloured and tipped with an additional colour to the ends of the Mohair Fur Fabric. One of the most famous bears made from Dual Mohair was Steiff’s ‘Happy’. German Bear makers such as Schuco, Jopi and Hermann also frequently usedTipped Mohair in the early 1900's through to the mid-century period. Nowadays many high qualityCollector's Bears and Artist Bears are produced using Dual Plush.
Excelsior or Wood Wool was one of the earliest form of stuffings used in Teddy Bear Making. Made from thin wood shavings it packs to a firm and solid base that supports limbs and facial features well. It is also used around a Growler or Voicebox to enable it to work well. Excelsior around the Teddy Bear's Muzzle or nose area assists in ease of stitching a bears nose. Around the mid 1900's Teddy Bear Manufacturers began to see the appeal of making Teddy Bears more soft and cuddly and stuffings such as Kapok and Sub began to be used. From the 1960's synthetic stuffings such as Polyester and Foam were also used.
The first term for Synthetic Foam used in Teddy bear Stuffing from the 1960's. Fairy Foam proved to be not very durable as it breaks down to a fine dust with age.
Used for Teddy Bear Foot Pads and Paw Pads from the earliest times of Bear Making. It is a Natural Wool Fabric made from densely matted wool fibres. Margarete Steiff made many Soft Toys fromFelt,most famously her Elephant Pin Cushion before the Steiff family firm began producing Teddy Bears from Mohair Plush. Unfortunately Wool Felt attracts moths so very often an Antique Teddy Bearhas moth eaten Paw or Foot Pads.
The areas of material at the soles of the Teddy Bears Feet. The majority of Teddy Bears usually haveFoot Pads made of Wool Felt other Woven Fabric or in the 1930's through to 1950's a material calledRexine was often used along with Velvet in Teddy Bears such as Chiltern Bears. Sometimes Artist Teddy Bears have their foot pads made of unusual materials such as Suede, Leather or Boldly Coloured Velvet. In the 1960's Vinyl and Plastic foot pads were often used.
Originally Teddy Bears were made with Boot Button Eyes then from the 1920's onwards Teddy Bear Manufacturers originating with Steiff started using Hand Blown German Glass Eyes to add to the features of their bears. Usually Amber in colour some Antique Teddy Bears however were made with Blue Glass eyes or Googly style eyes. Glass Eyes were initially on a simple Wire Stem with later improved designs being made on a Wire Loop that enabled stitching firmly on to the Teddy Bear'sface. Because of safety concerns about Glass Eyes being used in Children's Toys, eventually Plastic Safety Eyes replaced the use of Glass Teddy Bear Eyes. In the 1980's Glass Teddy Bear Eyes had a renaissance due to the growing Collector's Market wanting Traditional Style Bears.
Golden Teddy Awards
Introduced in 1987 the Golden Teddy Awards are one of numerous Award Systems established at the height of the Artist Bear trend during the 1980's and 1990's. Many famous Teddy Bear Artists have achieved the Golden Teddy Award including famous Bear Maker Robin Rive.
Also known as Goo Goo Eyes. Googly eyes were fashionable from around the 1920's onwards. Cartoon Characters such as Felix the Cat and Kewpie Dolls popularised the trend with many Antique Soft Toys and Vintage Dolls being produced with Googly Glass Eyes. In later years Googly Eyes were also made out of plastic sometimes the eyes would be set in a mount that allowed them to move.Einco made a series of cute cats and dogs with googly eyes such as the Einco Fifi Cat and Farnell’s Felix the Cat also had Googly Glass Eyes.
From the earliest made Teddy Bears manufacturers have included something to give the Teddy Bear a voice such as an Oilcloth Squeaker in the earliest bears or a Growler that makes a low moan when the Bear is tipped backwards or up and down. In later years Teddy Bears were fitted with more complex systems such as Musical Boxes, Squeakers or speaking mechanisms sometimes on a drawstring. From the 1960's onwards battery systems were also used. In most Antique Bears often the Voice Box or other mechanism has packed up due to many years of use. A Teddy Bear Hospital may sometimes be able to replace a Growler in an Old Bear.
The Warm and Cuddly Collective Noun for a Group of Teddy Bears. Many Teddy Bear Collectors like to refer to their Collection of Bears as a ‘Hug’.
The Earliest Toy Bears such as those made by Steiff were based on realism and made to look as much like a Bear in the wild as possible including the distinctive Hump Back of a Grizzly Type bear. Usually a sign of an Early Antique Bear if it has a pronounced hump as this feature disappeared from many bear manufacturers designs around the 1940's, today however, many Replica and Reproduction or Artist Bears are still manufactured with a Pronounced Hump so they look like Steiff Teddy Bears.
In the earliest Antique Teddy Bears the head was made from two side pieces and a head gusset. In the later 1900's designers got more innovative and started introducing many more features to Teddy Bears such as Open Mouths and different coloured muzzles often necessitating the use of separate pattern pieces around the Teddy Bear's Muzzle as it is sewn onto the Bear's face. Famous Bear manufacturers that used an inset muzzle were the German Company Hermann in the mid 1900s.
Refers to Teddy Bears and other Soft Toys with moveable limbs and head. The first Jointed Teddy Bears were made by Steiff with String Joints or Rod Jointing mechanisms and then the more durableTraditional Cotter Pin Joints. In later years from the wartime onwards many Teddy Bears were madeunjointed to save on material. In the 1960's Safety concerns saw the development of Safety Joints forChildren's Stuffed Toys such as Teddy Bears, made from Plastic, Safety Joints had the added benefit of allowing a Bear to be washed.
A soft and pliable Natural Stuffing similar to Cotton Wool made from the Seed Pods of a tree. Kapokwas first used in the 1920's and 1930's for stuffing in Soft Toys and Teddy Bears. Chiltern HugmeeBears of the 1930's were part stuffed with Kapok to give them that ‘Hugmee’ appeal.
If you lived in Japan you would use the word Kuma for your Teddy Bear
Teddy Bears made in a lifelike appearance such as the Dean's Tru-to-Life Series often had feet and sometimes facial features made from Latex Rubber. Rubber is a natural material that is prone to perishing.
Limited Edition Bears
Around the time that Artist Bears gained popularity in the 1980's many manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon of making Limited Edition Teddy Bears to appeal to the Collector’s Market. Famous Manufacturers such as Steiff and Merrythought have produced many beautiful Collectors Bears in Limited Editions. One eternally popular Teddy Bear that has been produced in many Limited Editionsis the Merrythought Cheeky Bear. Sometimes although not always Limited Edition Bears are either signed or issued with a Certificate of Authenticity. Depending on the quality of the Teddy Bear and other factors many Limited Edition Teddy Bears can increase in value and usually have a good following on the secondary market.
Due to the one off or limited nature of Antique and Collectable Teddy Bears some dealers like to offer a Layaway service whereby a Teddy Bear can be reserved and paid for in instalments. If you would like to Layaway an Ancestral Bear Request a Layaway here
How to say Teddy Bear in Hungarian
Teddy Bear the Serbian way also known as ‘Meda’.
Medvidek is the Czech word for Teddy Bear
Medo is how you say ‘Teddy Bear’ in Croatian.
The Polish word for a cuddly Teddy Bear
Originally Yorkshire, England was one of the Key manufacturers of Mohair Fabric which was also known as ‘Leeds Cloth’. Mohair plush is made from the beautiful long silky hair of the Angora Goat,this fleece being incorporated into a woven fabric base. An expensive fabric to produce, meaning that after the War Time Years many Soft Toy Makers looked to alternative sources of Fur Fabric and started using products such as Synthetic Plush. There is nothing, however, that feels as nice as aTraditional Mohair Teddy Bear. Mohair plush can sometimes be a blend of Angora Hair, Sheep’s Wooland Cotton but the best Teddies are made from 100% mohair.
The snout or nose of the Bear, in the earliest Antique Teddy Bears such as Steiff Bears the muzzle mimicked real life bears and was quite long and protruding. In later Teddy Bear design the muzzle became shorter and flatter, often this was influenced by material shortages around the Wartime years in design’s such as Chiltern’s Flat Face Hugmee Teddy Bears and the Steiff Original Teddy that were produced directly after the Second World War.
Another Swedish word for Teddy Bear
Not sure how to pronounce this Finnish word for Teddy Bear!
Osito de Peluche>
Spanish for Teddy Bear also used is ‘Oso de Peluche’ and ‘Oso del Teddy’
Ordo del Teddy
An Italian name for Teddy Bears is Orsacchiotto or Orsetto
Ours de nounours
Ours de Nounours or Ours en Peluche are two ways of saying Teddy Bear in French. Often Ours de Nounours is abbreviated to NouNours
Turkish language for Teddy Bear
Can be used to refer to either a Teddy Bears Paw pads or Foot Pads. Paw pads being at the end ofTeddy’s Arms and Foot pads of course on his feet. Can be made of materials such as Felt, Rexine, Velvet, Plastic, Vinyl, Leather or Suede depending on the style or age of the Teddy Bear.
The Esperanto word for Teddy Bears
A common term used for Fur Fabric of all kinds used in Soft Toy Making. Plush can have pile of various length such as the short pile plush used for Mini Bear making to the long luxurious Tipped Mohair Plush used in Antique and Traditional Teddy Bears.
Pull Cord Voice
An alternative Voice Box system used in some Teddy Bears instead of a Growler, sometimes battery operated allowing the bear to speak or make other noises usually activated by a Pull String.
Magyar for Teddy Bear
Many famous Teddy Bear Makers such as Steiff have recognised the appeal of Replica Bears of their earliest and most Collectable Teddy Bear designs. A Replica is usually as near as possible a copy of an earlier Bear design sometimes Replica Teddy Bears such as in the case of Steiff Replica Bears may be produced from the original factory patterns .
A shiny coated leather type or oilskin type cloth used on old radios and car seats that was often used for Teddy Bear paw pads after World War II. Rexine was made from Cellulose nitrate applied to a woven cloth backing.
Rod Jointing was one of the earliest forms of jointing used in Teddy Bear Manufacturing by Teddy Bear makers such as Steiff in the Early 1900's. A Rod Jointed Bear would have Metal Jointed Rods that run through the Bears body. As Rod Jointed Steiff Bears are very rare often Rod Jointed Bears have been X-Rayed to prove their Authenticity.
Before plastics were commonplace Sealing Wax otherwise used to secure letters with a personalised seal, was sometimes used to make natural looking noses for Antique Teddy Bears.
Early American Bears were often made in the ‘Stick Bear’ Design with long stick like legs and arms and elongated trunk. Some of the Early American Ideal Bears were made in a Stick Bear type design. German and French Bears of the 1920's were also sometimes Stick Teddy Bears.
One of the most primitive forms of Early Teddy Bear Jointing where the joints are simply attached to the Bear by string. Steiff used this form of jointing in some of their very early Teddy Bear Designshowever, as it was not a robust method of Teddy Bear Making few if any examples of Antique Bearsmade this way have survived.
An alternative to a Growler in a Teddy Bears Tummy a Squeaker would make a ‘squeak’ when pressed. Or squeezed.
Also known as 'Substitute', Sub is a Cheap form of Stuffing made from leftover waste created in the fabric mills that was first used during World War II because of the shortage of expensive stuffing materials such as Kapok that were not available during the War and aftermath.
Most Teddy Bears were produced with some kind of identifying label often a card or thick paper tag.Steiff famously used a tag with a Teddy Bear on it. In the natural course of childhood toys the Sales Tag rarely survives hence Antique Teddy Bears that still have their Original Tags or Labels tend to be highly sought after by collectors and the presence of an Original Swing Tag, Label or Button such as inSteiff Bears can greatly increase the value.
If you are on very friendly terms with your Teddy Bear you might just call him Ted.
One of the most commonly used descriptors for a Teddy Bear.
Or Teddybaer is German for Teddy Bear
The Dutch way of saying Teddy Bear
Luxembourgisch for Teddy Bear
Suomi for Teddy Bear
A bit of a Red Herring! The 1950's fans of Rock and Roll adopted a distinctive style of dress and hairdo and became known as ‘Teddy Boys’ nothing really to do with the stuffed variety! However, one of the most famous Steiff Bears of all time 'Teddy Girl', was originally called 'Teddy Boy', until given to the daughter of her original owner who gave the bear a dress and renamed her Teddy Girl a name that was to go down in Teddy Bear History.
Despite Teddy Boy’s being nothing to do with Teddy Bears ‘Teddy Girl’ is in fact one of the most importantSteiff Teddy Bears of all time. Sold at Christies Auction in 1994 she belonged to Colonel Bob Henderson and had been his trusted companion throughout his life since being given to him as a young child by his mother. Teddy Girl had accompanied Bob throughout the war and to the end of his long life at the age of 86. Highlighting the importance of Provenance this Teddy Bear with the most wonderful life history achieved a record price of £110,000 at auction.
Otherwise known as Dual Plush ‘Tipped Mohair’, Mohair that has been accented with an additional colour to the tips of the fur to give a lovely rich appearance to a Teddy Bear such as in Steiff’s Happy Bear.
One of the many Teddy Bear Awards that exist today the Toby Award began in the 1990's following the surge of interest in Teddy Bear Collecting and Artist Bears
The Quebec word for Teddy Bear
The Latin name for the Bear Family with the word Ursine meaning belonging to the bear family, Ursoidmeaning 'like a bear' and Ursus meaning bear.
A Teddy Bear that looks like a bear is Ursiform however, the imagination of many Bear Artists runs riot and not all Teddy Bears actually look like bears these days!
Ursinho de Pelúcia
The Portugese expression for Teddy Bear also used is Urso de Pelúcia
Ursulec de Plu
Romanian word for Teddy Bear
A synthetic Suede like fabric that first came on the market in the 1960's but became fashionable for upholstery fabrics around the 1990's to year 2000. Ultrasuede also proved a great material for use onTeddy Bear Pads due to it’soft velvety nature and durability.
The term Vintage Bear is used by collectors of Teddy Bears usually to refer to Bears that are at least 20 years old and are not of recent construction. This is the definition that applies to any teddy bears for sale by Ancestral Bears described as 'Vintage'. The term can be very loosely applied by some dealers so it is useful to check as many details as you can about the bear in question, such as any identifying labels or mode of manufacture. Many Teddy Bear Artists simply describe their bears as Vintage due to their appearance that mimics Vintage Teddy Bears even though they have been recently made. More correctly they should be described as ‘Vintage Style’.
A broad term used to describe one of many systems used to give a Teddy Bear a voice such as aGrowler, Squeaker or Pull cord mechanism.
In British Teddy Bears such as Merrythought or Farnell the Claw Stitches were sometimes joined together in a kind of Webbed effect. This style of Claw Stitching was used by the above Teddy Bear Manufacturers in the 1930's and 1940s.
Originally used as a packing material and also known as Excelsior fine strands of shaved wood often wrongly identified as 'Straw Stuffing', Wood Wool was used in the earliest Teddy Bears through to the1950's. Nowadays Wood Wool is used by Bear Artists and the Best Teddy Bear manufacturers such asSteiff to give an authentic Antique feel to their bears.
The Yes No Bear was a Novelty Teddy Bear produced by German Bear Manufacturers such as Schucoand Bing. Operated by moving the tail which in turn moved the head up and down. Steiff also briefly produced a Yes/No Bear.
Zotty being German for ‘hairy’, Zotty Bears were an innovative and fun design with Long Curly Mohairand an Open Mouth. German Manufacturers such as Hermann also produced a Zotty Bear almost identical to the Steiff Zotty Bears which can be distinguished by a different coloured crescent of fur on their chests.