Teddy Bears

America has always laid claim to being the birthplace of the “Teddy Bear”. Why is this? Well on a hunting trip in 1902 it is reputed that the then president Teddy Roosevelt, when having a perfect opportunity to shoot a bear, declined the shot refusing to kill the bear. It is then said that Morris Michtom made a small commemorative bear and gave it to the president in commemoration of the incident. This was Teddy’s bear.

It is though Germany who can lay claim to the most famous teddy bear maker of all; Margarete Steiff, who was producing jointed bears from 1902. A Steiff bear has the trademark “Steiff” embossed on a small white metal button in its ear. Classic Steiff bears have ears that are small, cupped and set wide apart, noses with horizontal stitching joining an upturned Y-shaped mouth and paws featuring four (or five on very early bears) stitched claws. An early Steiff bear in good and original condition can realise many thousands of pounds.

When teddy bear mania arrived in Britain, existing toy manufacturers began to produce their own teddies. The banning of German imports during the First World War led to an increase in the number of British makers including Chad Valley, Farnell and Deans.

By the Second World War British bears had become plumper with shorter legs and fatter faces. Synthetic fibres replaced the mohair plush. British bears always realise less than their German counterparts but still are and always have been very popular with collectors.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Merrythought

Merrythought have been producing soft toys since 1930. The company was established in Ironbridge, Shropshire by Gordon Holmes after he decided to expand on his previous experience in the milling and weaving of mohair yarn; the perfect teddy bear material.

Early pre-war Merrythought toys are identifiable by the celluloid button in their eye (a marking technique modelled on the Steiff example) and also an embroidered label on their feet. From the very beginning, Merrythought produced an impressive catalogue of domestic and wild animals as well as their teddy bears.

Production was interrupted during the war years as the Merrythought factory was taken over by the military and used for map-making and many of the staff worked on producing helmet linings, sleeve badges, gas mask bags and other such textile items for the armed forces.

Post-war saw production resumed initially on a small scale due to a shortage of supplies. Later came the introduction of the printed label, still placed on the feet, and in 1957, the infamous ‘Cheeky’ bear. The ‘Cheeky’ bears are very popular with collectors today and the early examples are the favourites. They are very distinctive bears with domed heads and large flat ears having bells sewn into them which are positioned lower down the side of the head. They are still made today.

It is interesting to note that the company’s emblem of a wishbone is actually the definition of the word ‘Merrythought’ and definitely brought the company good luck as they have been very successful throughout the years and are still very much in production today as the last remaining British teddy bear manufacturer.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website