Here you will discover a wealth of information regarding much loved Teddy Bear manufacturers. When they began, what inspired them, what accolades they received, what they are remembered for, their past and future designs, with a nod of what's yet to come.
2017 - Charlie Bears arrives im USA
Having already proved to be tremendously popular in both the UK and Australia, Charlie Bears officially arrived on QVC USA on September 26th 2017. QVC UK and TVSN Australia had already proven instrumental in launching the brand exceptionally well in their respected countries, so it was a natural move for Charlie and Will to travel the same path, even opening up a Bearhouse there too . A special bear was released exclusively for QVC USA, but news of it reach the British shores. It was wee McKinley, a white cub and a Limited Edition of 1,500 pieces. Many UK fans tried to order this particular favourite on QVC USA, he was that much sought after. Charlie Bears even created a Limited Edition (of 300) pins, with his edition number on the back of the badge for those that missed out.
2015 - Celebrating 10 years of Charlie Bears
"Charlie Bears 10th Birthday Party You're invited!" Was how we were made aware of the forthcoming celebrations After having completed their UK countrywide signing event, Charlie Bears rounded off their 10th Anniversary celebrations in style, with a rocking, 'Global' Birthday Party, hosted by selected stockists around the World, on November 14th 2015. The chosen stockists were beary excited to be included in the celebrations, as nothing like this had ever occurred before, giving all participants a taste of Teddy Bear History in the making. Being Charlie Bears, it wouldn't have been the same without a surprise or two and it came in the form of their Birthday Bear, which was NOT to be announced prior to the event, creating great speculation about who the mini masterpiece would be. It was Anniversary Diesel, a smaller sized version of one of Charlie Bears most popular and wanted bears. There was also the opportunity to purchase one of the 10th Anniversary Plush Bears, (which were 10 of the most popular Bears purchased by the customer over the past 10 years, and were also at set signing destinations). Also available to purchase, were Anniversary, Limited Edition, Isabelle Bears (which were smaller copies of past popular originals, including Anniversary Cheesecake!) We all made Charlie Bears 10th Birthday Party, an unforgettable occasion and celebrated it well with our favourite bears and beary friends!
2011 - Suki is Launched
Still in its infancy, Suki Gifts is based in the U.K. and specialises in Gifts for any age and pocket. Whether its a cheerful mug, or snuggly cuddly, a milestone year to commemorate, or just as important, a new baby. Perhaps its a celebratory Hen Night, or time for some savings with fun Piggy Banks. Whatever you decided, you cannot deny that the selection range from useful Keyrings to Limited Edition, fully jointed Collectable Teddy Bears, leaves you gift inspired!
Petjes World Ltd was founded in 2007 by Danish brothers Peter and Jes Byskov (hence the name Petjes). They aim to be the supplier that souvenir and gift shops, such as zoos, museums and amusement parks turn to, not just for their fabulous wide selection and variety of products, but also for their customer service (which is a priority for this thriving business) and that the quality of production, as well as the finished product itself, are of the very best - supplying high quality products at affordable prices.
2006 - Merrythought ceases production
In 2006 after 74 years of fabulous business, Merrythought closed their doors for what they thought would be the end of an era.
2005 - Charlie Bears
Founded in 2005 by true arctophiles Charlotte and William Morris, and known to many as Charlie and Will, they became reponsible for turning the Teddy Bear World upside down and on its head. Their premier collection was launched in early 2006, and the rest, as some would say, is history. Charlie Bears became an overnight success thanks to the wonderful tactability and adoring faces of their fully jointed creations and the designs from their chosen artisans. Charlie Bears have an international following with a Bearhouse in both Cornwall and Australia. They feature regularly on a television shopping channel, with exclusives available just for those viewers, and now have 10 assorted ranges including - Organic Baby to Travel Buddies, Charlies Playtime Puppets to Bag Buddies, and the must have Isabelle Collection to Home (doorstops). Their plush bears still reign high with new designs and names each year, with the Isabelle Collection a close second. But then who can resist the charms of a Limited Edition Teddy Bear, crafted from magnificent fabrics, with such enviable charm and attraction. Long may they continue! Click here to see the latest Charlie Bears range
1999 - Jellycat
Established in London in 1999, JellyCat Soft Toy Creators arrived - Their aim was to create something brilliant, yet very different, leaving you wanting more. They chose luxurious, supersoft fabrics, with unique and trendy design twists that were appealing to all ages, thanks to their fabulous touch and look. Their original small collection began to grow, and in 2001 JellyCat Inc expanded to Minneapolis. Now their large range of products can be found throughout the UK and USA, Canada, Asia, Europe and Australia enchanting all who own them. JellyCats best loved range has to be the Bashfuls. A fabulous silky soft array of animals ranging from Cows to Unicorns, Bushbabies to Dinosaurs. But most of all its their Bashful Bunnies with their long strokable ears that you may find within your own home. There is even Little JellyCat, an innovative and tactile Baby Range complete with squeakers, chimes, rattles and even teething/finger grab rings. JellyCat now has over 40 Ranges and Little JellyCat has over 50. From hubble beginnings, and a name chosen by a child combining two of their favourite things, Jelly and Cat, they have certainly made their mark and are classed as one of the Worlds leading luxury soft toy companies.
Isabelle Lee is best known as the chief designer for Charlie Bears, but infact, she is a talented Teddy Bear Artist in her own right. Originally Korean born, Isabelle made her way to America and strived hard, until she was able to show off her spectacular artistry, with her own exclusive collection, at the New York International Toy Show. After being choosen by Charlotte Morris - founder of Charlie Bears, to be a designer, her career just bloomed. Not only does she design plush Teddy Bears for them, but she has her own highly collectable range for Charlie Bears - The Isabelle Collection. These sort after lovelies are Limited Edition pieces, made from luxurious mohair or sumptuous alpaca, each containing a little bit of Isabelles fairy dust magic, and each with that inviting and emotive expression, upon their sweet endearing face! Some of these extra - special pieces, can earn as much as eight times! their original price on the secondary market ... you know who you are Cheesecake! Click here to see the latest Isabelle Collection range
1996 - Deb Canham moves
After 10 years of Deb Canham Miniatures being based in Devon, Deb, her husband and their young family, including their beloved pets, all emigrated to sunny Florida, and a lovely place called Sarasota. There she began - Deb Canham Designs -. Her aim was to create beautifully high quality, fully jointed miniature bears and animals, which were to be small Limited Edition pieces, each with a spark that captures your imagination and heart. With well over 67 ranges, and hundreds of perfectly proportioned Teddies, Bunnies, Gollies, Elephants, Cats, Mice, Dragons plus more in various sizes, designs and guises, whats not to love?! Click here to see the latest Deb Canham range
1994 - Steiff Bear at auction breaks records
Colonel Bob Henderson was given his first Bear, a Steiff cinnamon Teddy, when he was a baby in 1904. He named her - Teddy Girl - and she accompanied him on active service during WWII, after which, he dedicated his life to collecting Teddy Bears. By 1962 he had founded the Teddy Bear Club, and would later be running the UK branch of Good Bears of the World - a charity that sends Teddy Bears to Children in need Worldwide.Teddy Girl was sold at Christies of London in December 1994 to Japanese businessman and founder of the Teddy Bear Museum in Izu, Japan - Yoshihiro Sekiguchi. He paid the highest price ever paid for a Vintage Teddy Bear ... £110,000. Click here to see the latest Steiff Limited Editions range
1990 - Bukowski is born
Founded in Sweden in 1990 by Barbara Bukowski, this family owned business has earned customers worldwide. Barbara designs her unique, much coveted, bunnies and teddy bears using only new, non-recycled materials. The plush itself is exceptional, whilst clever use of bean bags, add that magical, unforgettable touch.
Barbara, who originally found inspiration through Margarete Steiff, as well as vintage English designs, now gains inspiration from those around her, taking characteristics' and applying them to her plush medium. From originally crafting for her own two sons, to designing the fabulous creations you find yourself gifting to others, Bukowski Design AB continues to grow and inspire.
1986 - Deb Canham Miniature Bears
Deb Canham began making miniature jointed Teddy Bears and Mice from her kitchen table in 1986, whilst still resident in Devon, U.K. From a humble seedling a magnificent oak grew, and she began to lecture on her favourite subject, not only in the U.K. but in Japan, America and Germany, where she ended up creating some fabulous larger designs for -Teddy Hermann-.During this time, the early 1990s, she also became the premier designer for the acclaimed -Little Gem Company-Her creations have always been fabulously characterful and detailed, fully jointed, handfuls of endearment and charm, that capture your heart. From many assorted animals to wonderful ranges including -The Dolls House Collection, Christmas Mice, Dappled Dragons and many, many more. Click here to see the latest Deb Canham range
1984 - Boyds
Founded in Boyds, Maryland by husband and wife team Gary M. Lowenthal and Justina Unger 1984,Boyds Bears emerged with a line of miniature sculpted resins, known as The Gnomes Homes. After the arrival of their son Matthew, they began crafting and selling Bears - and these became known as Boyds Bears, due to where they were created. This line of plush soft toy Bunnies and Bears was also a success. Their Bears had personality and charm, whether dressed or not, or with an attached sentiment. Popularity grew, and in 1993 Boyds introduced their first resin bears, full of detail and colourful character. They also ventured into homewares, offering that exceptional Boyds touch. In 1996 the -Loyal Order of Friends of Boyds! - was formed, Boyds Bears Official fan club. The membership cost ensured you received your exclusive plush bear, tote bag and bearware members pin. Additional benefits included, exclusive members-only collecters items, on-line newsletter plus access to the members-only website. The demand was high and popularity booming. Boyds products were achieving awards and winning recognition The gift company Enesco acquired Boyds Bears in 2008, and still produce their fabulous Bears exclusively for the American market.
1981 - Aurora World
Founded in 1981, Aurora World began supplying a range of high quality products to its retailers. These included museums, attractions, zoos and department stores. Now, they are known for their wide and undeniably fine, range of gifts and Licensed products, that are more readily available, to independent retailers like us at World of Bears.
One of their most popular designs are the large glittery eyed Yahoos, who are still going strong in their 10th year. Licensed products however, how now come to the fore, with magical renditions of everyone's favourite lasagne eating cat (Garfield), that bald kid and his many friends (Snoopy & Charlie Brown), plus book characters such as Stickman, Gruffalo and the Bear from "we're going on a bear hunt".
1980 - Steiff 6 digit EAN Number
Since 1905 Steiff have used a numbering system as a way of identifying their bears. In 1968 this system was revised to incorporate and use the European UPC numbering system called the European Article Number or EAN for short. Since the 1980s a six digit number has been used, before then a four digit number, followed by a / with 2 more numbers equating to further detailed information.
If we take 2014s 1908 Replica Bear with Growler with its current EAN 403156, to explain how their original numbering system worked pre-1950.
What information can I give you about 2014s Limited Edition 1908 Replica Bear? Well ... He is Fully Jointed with a Growler and is sewn from Cinnamon Mohair, is stuffed with Excelsior (finely shaved wood wool) and has Wooden eyes and stands 50cm Tall. This would equate to: 5 (jointed) 3 (Material - Mohair), third and fourth digits relate to height, so 5 and 0, the fifth digit is for the Stuffing Type so 1. The remaining digit would be used to describe the extras such as Growler, Squeaker, Music Box, Bow or Bells, Wooden or Glass Eyes or sometimes (rarely) they would incorporate an end letter for an unusal Colour. We will use 1 for Growler as an example.
Meaning that if this particular 1908 Replica had been crafted in the mid 20th Century his identification numbers would read ... 5350/11C, with C standing for his exceptional Cinnamon Mohair.
Back to Present Day, due to the vast number of styles, fabrics, types, collections and I could go on ... with the extraordinary variations used, the number system has had to adjust to fit the large assortiment that is Steiff.
1976 - R John Wright
John Wright had always had an artistic yearning, so when in 1976 he became unexpectantly redundant, he thought he would try something new - an old idea, and began crafting his first fabric doll. Albeit crude, he immediately saw how to make improvements and alterations. Within just a few weeks he sold his first line of six - rustic dressed, felt dolls for $14 each. Within that same day, all had sold for $28 dollars each and a re-order was immediately placed. Over the next six months he perfected his technique, with sophisticated construction, joints and detailing. Inspired by Kathe Kruse and her fabulous moulded felt dolls, John & his wife Susan embarked on a mission to bring back the technique, that would grant R.J. Wright to produce dolls with moulded faces.
In 1981 R.John Wright proudly premiered their fabulous - Little Children Series to great acclaim. Over the years, big names such as Winnie the Pooh (1985), Snow White, Mickey Mouse and Cinderella arrived with Peter Rabbit (1998) not far behind. They were beautiful Limited Edition pieces, as perfect and detailed, as their illustrated images. They have continued crafting other literary characters such as the acclaimed Cicely Mary Barkers - Flower Fairies, Curious George, Alice in Wonderland, Palmer Coxs Brownies plus The Wizard of Oz and Paddington Bear, the list is endless. They also have their own celebrated collections - The Toddler Series, Christmas Mice, Springtime Friends and many more wonderful and fabulous designs.They have received many awards and acclaim, including the most prestigious and highly regarded, Jumeau Trophy considered a true recognition of achievement in the doll field. R John Wright are truly magical creators, of exceptional, collectable masterpieces! Click here to see the latest R John Wright range
1975 - Ravensden
This family run company was founded in 1975 and pride themselves on manufacturing high quality products, ranging from a magnitude of gorgeous plush toy animals, to an assortment of fabulous gifts, including beautiful photographic imagery, on their bone china mugs.
Having both the knowledge and the know-how, of not only importing and exporting, the creative development of new lines, plus product quality and their high level of service, due to being active members of many industry specific trade organisations, has resulted in a company that aims to please, not only the retailer, but the purchaser too. With items aimed at all ages and prices to suit any pocket, they are on to a winner.
1974 - Living Nature
Classing themselves as the World's most realistic soft toy brand, Living Nature provide a glorious plethora of animal cuddlies and designs, specialising in both domestic and wild.
Living Nature was established in 1974 and initially founded, on children's pocket money purchases. Today, it still has the same original ownership, who have seen the business grow and develop, whilst priding itself on its' exemplary customer satisfaction and service. Living Nature is one of the many collections from the company, which offer both detail and quality, whilst still being affordable. More often than not, a swing tag is attached to one of these lovable creations, giving information on the chosen animal, including habitat and food.
Now you can purchase a Living Nature Animal from Tourist Attractions, Large Chains and Individual Retailers, like us at World of Bears!
1973 - Robin Rive
Since 1973, this multi talented Teddy Bear Artist has been crafting inspirational vintage designs, that have enchanted and delighted Collectors the World over, all from her homeland of New Zealand. Admittedly, after 35 years Robin decided to retire, and take a little time off from bears, by concentrating on her own Organic Olive Grove - Oakdale (named after its exceptional 11 English Oak Trees), and has been using her magical artistic talents to sculpt Frogs from the clay, whilst also becoming an author by publishing - Country Delights -. Now she is back on the hug path, and intends to promote her latest collection via her website. Robins daughter Brigitte, is best known for her wonderful Gollies that are produced under her own label - Brigitte Rive.
Founded in 1972, by an industry veteran who had experienced many years with the U.S. corporation - Ideal Toys, Hans J. Axthelm, wanted to create a product with a useful life span of 10 years or longer. The companys premier product - The Hansa Block Walker Wagon - was a great success. It has exceeded domestic sales of over one million units. This led to the amended thinking of - Toys that Teach -. By 1989 Hansa were venturing into the exceptionally large Plush Toy industry and soft animals. Now based in the Philippines, they produce exceptional, life-like and beautifullly crafted Masterpieces, each having to be foremost, a childs cuddly toy. Having won an array of international awards, with their collections being supplied for themed displays, wildlife parks, photo shoots and exhibitions, is it any wonder. Each piece is crafted by hand, with the experience of a meticulous eye, and a passion for the slightest detail upmost. Each Plush Toy Animal comes with its Toys that Teach Tag, which describes your animal of choice, from habitat to lifestyle, gestation period, to care of their young and dietry requirements. Hansas aim is to enlighten, and give knowledge to the children of the World, by teaching them about the spectacular wildlife that inhabits the planet with them, hoping to prolong safe keeping and interest for generations to come. Click here to see the latest Hansa Toy range
1971 - Rainbow Designs
Rainbow Designs was established in 1971. Based in Hampshire, England they specialise in the production and distribution of licensed children's gifts. These range from soft, toy characters, to resin character figures, to pictorial character images on clocks and mugs, to traditional wooden toys, which also sport the same character images. The characters used, are taken from children's books and tv. They produce both traditional Beatrix Potter, through to modern day, Wallace and Gromit.
1971 - Gabrielle Designs
Michael Bonds much loved creation, Paddington Bear was given form in 1971 By Shirley and Eddie Clarkson of Gabrielle Designs (a small home-based English Company). They gifted the prototypes to their Children Jeremy (now a Top Gear T.V. Presenter) and Joanna as a Christmas present.In getting Paddington to stand they opted for wellington boots, which were infact Childrens size 5 Dunlop wellies, to keep him upright. By the 1980s, and due to the high demand, Gabrielle Designs crafted their own boots, complete with moulded -paw print- soles. Thick felt fabrics in a variety of colours made up Paddingtons attire. Duffle coat with four buttons, floppy hats and boots. Later the more popular colours of red, blue, black and yellow were more commonanly used, with the famous card label reading - Please Look After This Bear - Thank You - and a satin label stitched to their back.Up until 1976, Gabrielle Designs held the World Exclusive rights to Paddington Bear Teddies. In 1994 Eddie passes away, and in March 1995 Shirley sold Gabrielle Designs to businessman Stephen Beaumont. He then acquired a license to produce Enescos Cherished Teddies, and launched a Collectors Club. By 1998 Gabrielle Designs ceased trading and went into liquidation
1964 - Russ Berrie
American Russell Berrrie founded his own plush toy and gift company, Russ Berrie in 1963, from his own garage. He used the wealth of knowledge and experience that he had gained as a Toy Sales Representative as his foundation, and by 1964 his premier product, plush - Fuzzy Wuzzies - had arrived. He moved the business out of the garage and his legacy began.
Other cuddly toys and animals followed, with faithful Teddy Bears, ceramic gifts, and milestone commemorative gifts, becoming firm favourites, and much loved companions. He even delved into Limited Edition Teddy Bears, which delighted collectors, thanks to his adorable and appealing designs.
Russ was a very generous philanthropist, and shared his considerable wealth amongst Medical and other worthy Foundations in his name. So, when he passed away aged 69 in 2002, he was greatly missed. In 2001 Russ Berrie had sales of $294.3 Million, and employed over 1,500 employees, so it was a great surprise when they filed for bankrupty in 2011. Now, newly formed Suki Gifts have begun to fill the gap that Russ Berrie left behind, and have taken forward some of his much loved designs.
1959 - Kosen
The name Kosen comes from the place of manufacturer - Bad Kosen, and was initially founded as a prestige Doll manufacturer in 1911/12 by entrepeneur Kathe Kruse, whose growing production ensured employment for over 100 workers. In 1949 Kathe decided to open another company, together with her children and work began on her premier Plush Animals lines.
These fabulous life-like cuddly toys were first shown at the Leipzig Trade Fair in 1959, as secondary counterparts to Kathe Kruses much recognised dolls. Thanks to the high demand in orders for the new plush creations, she decided to put all her efforts into her new products, and began expanding with more employment opportunities affording a 50% increase in staff.
Today, Kosen still strive to make the very best. Their designers observe the animals for their latest designs in the wild or captivity, producing several life-like sketches. Then 3d clay images are shaped and refined, before deciding on the look required. Lastly, patterns are made, and prototypes revised, until the look that was envisioned is realised. Finally a luxury plush, suitable to the coat of the animal is chosen, with detail and shading, emphasised by artisans hand painting each piece, completing the masterpiece before them. Click here to see the latest Kosen range
1958 - to date - Michael Bonds Paddington Bear
Christmas Eve 1956, amongst the magic of the season and the other hurried last minute shoppers, Michael Bond entered a London store with the intention of getting his wife Brenda a gift. What caught his attention was a lone Teddy Bear on a shelf, which he consequently bought. He was named Paddington as they lived at the time quite close to Paddington Station.
Less than 2 years later on October 13th 1958 - A Bear called Paddington - was published with Michael Bond as the author, and illustrator Peggy Fortnum having been commisioned to create Paddingtons long lasting, lovable image. The story begins with an adorable Bear Cub having been sent from Darkest Peru by his Aunt Lucy, wearing the only adornments he owned and a tattered suitcase filled with his favourite dish - marmalade! He has arrived at Paddington Station, London amidst the chaos and frenzy of the experienced London traveller, when Mr Brown having spied him and having noted his attached label - Please look after this Bear ... thank you - realised that he may be in need of assistance. Both Mr Brown and his wife decided to take Paddington home with them and adopt him into their family. He is readily introduced to his new family members Jonathan, Judy and Mrs Bird the house keeper, who would become rather adept at looking after Paddington. Now the adventures, caypers, fun and excitement ensues, with the Browns soon realising that there is never a dull moment with Paddington around.
Paddington had the innocence and wonderment of a child, with the sophisicated knowledge of an adult, yet remained grounded and true to himself. Now 150 titles, resulted in 35 million copies of his many Paddington books having been translated into over 40 different languages, including Latin making this quintessential English Bear most multi-cultural.
Later this year in Winter 2014, Paddington Bear steps out of the silver screen in a long anticipated, premier performance bringing his way of life to a newer generation and re-igniting the hearts of those that knew him before.
This American company has undergone a few changes on its journey. Founded in 1955 by Richard Y. Dakin as an import business for expensive, hand crafted guns from Europe, it took a turn towards importing less impactful items such as bikes and wooden toys in 1957, when Roger B. Dakin (Richard's son,) joined the family-run business. One delivery from Japan however, included 6 velveteen plush animals as 'packaging' for the battery-operated trains ordered. These intrigued Roger, who subsequently ordered the soft characters, which were an instant sell-out success. From here Dakin began to design their own plush toys under the name 'Dream Pets' and entered into the main stream. In 1964 Dakin were developing well and managed to acquire the infant soft toy manufacturer Dardenelle Co in California. This became the main manufacturing site for Dakin in North America. During the same time, Dakin had production companies in Japan, Mexico and Hong Kong, they were doing well. 5 years later in 1970, they could boast sales in 35 countries and opted to switch manufacture from Japan to Korea. By the 1980's Licensed Products were becoming more prevalent and Dakin enlarged their portfolio with Garfield, The Pink Panther and The Muppets to name a few. By 1987 R Dakin became Dakin Inc and in 1989 acquired the family-owned British Company 'House of Nesbit' originally founded by Peggy Nesbit in 1952. This opened them up to a completely different market - Collectable Teddy Bears.
In 1990 Hallmark expressed an interest in a merger with the trend setter. Talks occurred, but no acquisitions were made. However, a few years later in 1995, a merger was made with Applause Inc. (Founded by Wallace Berrie in 1966 as The Wallace Berrie Company, he acquired Applause from the toy company Knickerbocker in 1982. It would be 4 more years before The Wallace Berrie Company changed their name to Applause Inc). This meant more Licensed Products including The Smurfs, Sesame St and Star Trek. This excelled the selling figures of Dakin alone, which employed 10,000 production staff Worldwide and sales to 80 countries. In 1997 the 'new' company was acquired by Frontenac Co and a Management Company, keeping the company name. With such a diverse and sometimes complicated history, their plush animals are still being made under the name Dakin with copyright by Applause.
1950 - Ganz was Founded
Ganz was established in 1950, thanks to founder Samuel Ganz and his two sons, Jack and Sam. This Canadian company pride themselves on their quality control, are considered to be one of the very best. They specialise in gifts for all occasions and everyone. From fashion ranges to jewellery, plus seasonal decorations to conquering the divide between virtual reality and physical, interactive play thanks to their Webkins World and their plush pets range. Outside of this is their 'Huggable Plush' collection which includes celebratory, educational, fun, cuddlesome new friends and pals ranging from mermaids to footballers, unicorns to doctors and big hug teds to cuties and contemporary sea life. Now run by Howard Ganz (Samuel's Grandson), this privately-held family business continues to bloom, with offices in China and currently serve 30,000 retail customers.
1949 - Merrythought Punkies and Cheekies created
The unique 'Punkies' are round headed Teddy Bears with low hung ears and mohair mohicans that first arrived in 1949. Soon they were followed by the lovable 'Cheeky Bear' with his round head and low hung ears, complete with internal, jingling bells, both courtesy of Merrythought.
1949 - FLORENCE ATTWOOD PASSES AWAY
Florence Attwood was an extremely talented designer from Chad Valley and was responsible for the first 32 patterns in Merrythoughts premier line in 1930. Up until her death in 1949, Florence was still their Chief Designer, more remarkably is the fact that Florence managed to form a sucessful career for herself as she was infact a deaf - mute.
1948 - Hermann Teddy Original moves
. In 1948, after the Soviet occupation of Eastern Germany, Bernhard felt that to avoid dispossession by the East German communist provisional government, to make a move to the American occupied zone of Hirschaid near Bamberg. He sent his son Werner ahead to establish and develop the company. Eventually by 1953, the Hermann family had managed to relocate to West Germany. In completeing the move, Berhard made his three sons General Partners, and changed the company name to Teddy-Plüschspielwarenfabrik Gebr. Hermann KG. It is at Hirschaid, that the company began to rise to become one of the most renowned in its industry. It is also where you will find the company today, still being run by the Hermann family - Three of Bernhards Grandaughters.
1948 - Clemens-Spieltiere
Having arrived in Mannheim, Germany from France, Hans Clemens opened a gift shop. He was quickly asked for teddy bears, so with the help of his sister, he began to sell Teddy Bears sewn from old army blankets. The design and quality were so good that business grew and changed - The year was 1948.
Still trading today, Clemens are known for the quality and attention given, to perfect each piece. With designs including animals as much as Teddy Bears, Teddy Bear Artists have begun to design ranges within Clemens - Spieltiere too.
Each piece has been created from one original design and receives months of attention and processing before manufacturing can begin. Every seamstress has had a minimum of 6 months training, with as much pride being given to the finished article, as the original design.
Clemens are known for their high quality and undeniably high standards, shown in their motto "For Children only the Best is Good Enough", finally each piece bears a red triangle logo as proof of workmanship.
1947 - Keel Toys
Keel Toys is now a third generation family business, with four brothers as directors. It began in 1947aiming more towards the working mans market, opposed to Steiffs luxury items. This strategy has served them well, as they continue to bloom not just in the UK, but Europe too. Overtime their products have developed in design and fabric, resulting now in an impressive 500 lines amongst 20 ranges.Choose from a fabulous Baby Safe selection for infants, detailed Puppy Breeds, wonderful likenesses to Wild Animals found through out the world, such as the Big Cats, Koalas, Primates, Owls, Penguins and Woodland Folk. Then theres their snuggley Teddies, and the more exclusive Signature Series - affordable, fully Jointed plush Teds! Click here to see the latest Keel Toys range
1945 - Wendy Boston
During WWII in Wales, Wendy Boston busied herself whilst her husband was away fighting. She began making non-jointed Teddies and cuddly Animals with any fabrics that she could find for friends and family who greatfully received them. When her husband -Ken- returned, he realised the demand for these huggable characters, due to the production shortfall created by the war. So with Wendy designing and creating them, they began producing more, and thanks to Kens marketing skills, selling them to local businesses with great success - it was 1945.Come 1948 Wendy had become an innovative designer, she developed and patented the first lock-in safety eye. It worked by attaching a rust proof nut through the plush fabric, making them more child safe. Continuing with this theme 1954 saw the arrival of the first fully washable, non-jointed, foam filled, plush Teddy Bear. A fabulous marketing ploy demonstration shown by the BBC in 1955, showed the washable bear being washed and then being squeezed through a mangle. It bought great success, and in 1960 Wendy Boston Playsafe Toys Ltd was registered as a company. A few years later, it was noted that the company produced over 25% of the soft toy UK exports.In 1968 it had become apparent that the innovative safety features of the bears added to the production costs, and with imports from the far east proving to be far cheaper, profits fell. As a consequence, Denys Fisher Toys bought the company out, but contined with the Wendy Boston Name. Sadly Wendy passed in 1972, four years before the factory closed.
1938 - Receiving the Royal Warrant - Chad Valley Co Ltd
In 1938 the English manufacturer, Chad Valley Co. Ltd was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment as Toymakers. This great accolade had them labelling their bears - Toymakers to her Majesty the Queen -.
1930 - Merrythought Created
Established in 1930 in Ironbridge, Shropshire by two spinning mill owners W.G. Holmes and G.H. Laxton, with the assistance of C.J.Rendell (then Production Chief at Chad Valley) and A.C. Janisch (then Head of Sales at J.K. Farnell), Merrythought was born. Here, they had the talent, of two established and experienced business men in the soft toy industry plus the experience and the know-how to weave and create the highest quality mohair for these soft toys.
They were also joined at this time by a designer from Chad Valley, a truly remarkable woman called Florence Attwood. (Florence was a deaf - mute and had attended school with the daughter of C.J. Rendell). Using her talent she was able to translate artists drawings into patterns and single handedly designed all 32 patterns for Merrythougts Premier line in 1930. Up until her death in 1949, she was still Chief Designer, and some of her original patterns are still in use today.
After creating the London Gold Range, The Cheekies and the Punkies, and 74 years after first opening their doors, Merrythought closed in 2006. Due to public demand they re-opened again in 2007, albeit on a smaller scale. Focusing on both traditional and collectable teddy bears.
Today Merrythought remains a 5th generation run company, that for 80 years has been hand making toys in England, and is still responsible, for some of "Britain's finest soft toys"
It's great to be eccentric and British - That's Merrythought down to a T. From their beautiful classic range to their fun and wacky 'Cheeky' bears, right up to their 'Punkies'. Design is everything!
1920 - Hermann Explained
In 1907, Johann Hermann a father of six, who had been carving wooden toys and instruments from the remote German village of Neufang, decided to work with an alternative composition, leading into the world of Teddy Bears. His eldest son Berhard worked alongside him, until he married five years later, and left to run his own Teddy Bear empire. Bernhard formed Be-Ha (taken from his name) which later became Gebruder Hermann KG, which trades under ther name Hermann Teddy Original. Meanwhile, Johann had three of his other children working for him, at the now established Johann Hermann Toy Factory, and they were Max, Arthur and Adelheid. It is Max who opened his own Teddy Bear company in 1920 - Max Hermann, and when joined by his son, changed the name to Max Hermann & Sonn. After WWII and a move to Coburg, it became Hermann-Spielwaren GmbH, trading under the name Herman-Spielwaren.
1920 - Rupert Bear
In 1920 the Daily Express began printing a daily cartoon strip, hoping to rival that of their competitor the Daily Mail. Artist Mary Tourtel was responsible for creating something special and unique that would win readers over. Her choice was to tell the tale of a Human-like-Bear who along with his contempories dressed in Human clothing, whilst having adventures in the magical realm of Nutwood, based around an English village. The character she created was none other than the yellow checked, trouser wearing Rupert Bear, and he forever won the nations heart. His family and friends also featured, making the whole experience memorable. There was Bill Badger, Edward Elephant, Algy Pug, Podgy Pig, Tiger Lily and Ping Pong, plus others.When Mary retired in 1935, Alfred Bestall took her place and expanded on plots and story lines that inspired the nation. Even during WWII, during the paper shortage, Rupert continued amusing the masses, as it was believed his absence would create a demise in morale.Following the end of WWII, Rupert found his way into comics, books and annuals insuring his popularity never waned. Although originally depicted as a brown bear, the annuals of 1973 changed him into what we recognise today. He even went global with translations enchanting all the Worlds Children. Finally in 1960 Rupert was given form as a soft cuddly toy thanks to the English companies Merrythought and Pedigree Toys. America soon followed with Real Soft Toys taking up the challenge. In 2010 Steiff finally got the license to produce Rupert, and crafted him from Alpaca in a choice of Brown (L/E 1,973) or White (L/E 3,000). Click here to see the latest Rupert range
1915 - Chiltern Bears
Chiltern Toy Works began originally as the German export firm Eisenmann & Co. which was founded at the end of the 19th century by Josef and Gabriel Eisenmann. With a move to Chesham in England and a change of name, Chiltern Toy Works was opened in 1908 by Josef, who initially concentrated on the manufacture of dolls. By 1915 they had produced their first bear - Master Teddy (the earlier ones had googly eyes), and teddy bear creation began. Upon Josefs death in 1919, his son-in-law Leon Rees took the helm, and in 1920 formed a partnership with Harry Stone under the trade name of H.G. Stone & Co Ltd. They opened a second factory in London in 1921, and introduced Baby Bruin - the Bear Cub in 1922. In 1923 they released the well known Hugmee Range of Teddy Bears, and finally in 1924, Chiltern Toys was registered, and they moved manufacture to Ambersham, producing bears until its closure in 1960. Meanwhile they continued to bloom and offer new designs including the Wagmee series, with their initial release in 1937. Chad Valley bought out Chiltern in 1967 (four years after the passing of Leon Rees), and for awhile, Teddy Bears produced bore a Chad Valley Chiltern Label.
1913 - Hermann Spielwarren
In Neufang, a remote German mountain village in Thuringia, very close to Sonneberg - which at that time, happened to be the Toy capital of the World ... Johann Hermann and his family had been busy. Johann and three of his children had been crafting, exceptionally high quality teddy bears, under the name Johann Hermann - Toy Factory. After WWI and the death of Johann, his son Max took up the helm, striking out on his own and changing the companys name to Max Hermann. It is only after WWII that the company once known as Johann Hermann Toy Factory, became Hermann-Spielwaren.
1912 - Hermann Teddy Original
Fresh from having been crafting, high quality Teddy Bears, along side his father, Johann Herman for his company Johann Hermann - Toy Factory, Bernhard (Johanns eldest son), opened the doors to his own company. It was 1912 at Sonneberg, when he too began producing, high quality Teddy Bears and Dolls. He used the initials from his name Be-Ha, which later became Gebruder Hermann KG, known today as Hermann Teddy Original.
Schuco was founded in 1912 in Nuremberg, and was originally a tinplate mechanical toy company. Following WWI, Schuco began producing mohair and plush teddies, some with mechanical tail levers that made heads nod up and down or side to side. It is believed that one of these Yes/No Bears made its debut at the reknown 1921 Leipzig Spring Toy Fair held in Germany.In 1924 Schuco began to concentrate more on miniature Bears, and by 1927 they added ingenuity to the mix, resulting in their - Compact Bears -. Miniature mohair Bears complete with internal perfume holders, manicure sets, mirrors and lipstick holders. These elaborate yet useful pieces are still highly sort after and collectable today.
1908 - First British Teddy Bear Produced by Farnell
In 1908 the family run firm JK Farnell & Co Ltd, produced the first British Teddy Bear. A fully jointed, mohair bear with hand stitched nose and claws. Their early bears have some very distinguished, and identifiable features, not all, but most have these recognisable signs - larger bears with clear glass eyes, distinctive web effect stitch on paws, and a stitched nose with silk, to name a small selection.
1908 - A teddy bear with sound
At the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1908, Paul Steiff (another of Margaretes nephews) decided to showcase his pride and joy. A new idea and innovation ... the First Teddy Bear with a Growler. He showed that when you gently rocked your beloved Teddy back and forth, he would growl as though talking to you, answering your questions, or giving comfort. This idea was of course a great success, with many other manufacturers following in his footsteps. To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Growling Bear in 2008, Steiff released a replica of the original, naming him Paul.
1907 - The Teddy Bear is born
In 1907, Steiff produced no less than 974,000 Teddy Bears. Over 400 staff and 1,800 outworkers, contributed to the production of approximately 1,700,000 toys, ensuring that the product range was constantly expanded. This is known as the - Teddy Bear Boom Year -
1904 - Steiffs Button in the Ear
Margarete Steiff had a motto ... only the best for our Children, so how best to promote this? In 1904 Franz Steiff, her nephew, came up with the idea of - marking - all Steiff products, with a trademark confirming their identity and what they stood for - High quality and design, suitablility, perfect workmanship and compliance with all safety requirements. His idea was simple ... a button in the ear. This much said phrase, was actually registered as a trademark in 1904, and later patented in 1905. The button is instantly recognisable as being a Steiff, the highest quality and the best for your children. Although its design has changed over time, with additions of a ribbon tag, and cardboard chest tags, Steiffs button remains the symbol of luxury and credibility.
1903 - Leipzig Spring Fair
The Leipzig Trade Fair in Germany is a major trade fair, with roots tracing as far back as a millenium. It is stepped in history and although traditionally a meeting place for businessmen and politicians, trademen soon arrived on the scene taking advantage of the gathering.
The 1903 Leipzig Spring Fair is important, as it symbolises the birth of the Teddy Bear. Attending the fair in 1903 was Richard Steiff, who had gone along to showcase his latest design 55PB (the first jointed teddy bear). After having had no luck, and with the close of the fair upon him, he began packing away his goods. At the same time Hermann Berg, a buyer from New York firm Geo Borgfeldt & Co, was dismayed at the lack of creativity and new ideas, happened to come along. He asked to see what was being packed away, and being totally inspired by what he saw, immediately bought the 100 Bears Richard had at the fair with him, and proceeded to order a further 3,000 more for 8 German Marks each!
1903 - Deans Rag Book Company
For over 200 years Deans were known for printing a variety of books including Debretts Peerage (an essential reference to the British aristocracy). When two of their Directors left, inspired by the latest American visions into the untapped market, they established Dean and Green. Soon they were producing a washable, fabric childrens book. The cost was not cheap at 6/- each, the equivalent of £25.00 today, so after negotiations, it was decided that the two companies should merge and concentrate on a new market - printed cotton toys and books. So on August 8th 1903 Deans Rag Book Company was born. They continued with their printed Rag Books, Photo and Scrap Albums, Rag Dolls, Nursery Adornments and the innovative Swimeesy Buoy of 1908, which were actually water wings. During WWI, Deans saw the gap in the market left by the absence of European goods, and in 1915 began production on a line of mohair plush toys. These Kuddlemee Toys were Deans premier catalogued Bears, but it was not until 1922 that Deans crafted their first branded mohair bear. They continued with their success, being the first company to create Mickey Mouse as a toy in 1930, soon to be followed by Donald Duck and Pluto. Over time things change, and in 1972 Deans merged with Gwentoys who had been partially producing some of their lines for them. In 1988 they were under new management, who in observing that a lot of soft toy manufacturing was now being done over seas, decided to focus more on the Limited Edition Collectors Bears. This is the Deans we know today. In 1994 the Deans Collectors Club was formed, proving that their bears were as popular as ever.
Richard Steiff had for some time, been working on a jointed bear, and in 1902 he finally achieved this and offered 55PB to the world (55 = 55cm tall, seated, P = plush and B = jointed).The Bear looked like a real Bear (not like the friendly faced Teddies we know today) and was in a very dark colour, with attached (jointed) limbs due to the use of string and knots. He also bore no Button in the Ear, as Steiff did not use these until 1904. Initially it was not an overnight success, but thanks to the Leipzig Fair of 1903, it became a hit and forever made history. In the Steiff archives you can find patterns and pictures, but no actual sample. There is evidence of the production and sale of these Bears, but none that were sold have ever re-surfaced.This is probably due to the delicate construction of the piece, making it exceptionally fragile, and not really intended for play. If one was to appear, its value at auction is bound to break all previous records.
1902 - Ideal Novelty and Toy Company
Morris Michtom along with his wife Rose ran a Novelty and Candy Store in Brooklyn, New York. Rose had been making toy bears for them to sell in their store, when Morris got the idea to send one to the then American President, Theodore - Teddy - Roosevelt. This was just after the Berryman fiasco, where the President had been drawn by the political cartoonist, Clifford Berryman with a Bear Cub. Morris asked Mr Roosevelt if he could use the name -Teddys Bear- for his cuddly products, and he said yes, making history. Originally a company called Butler Brothers mass produced the Teddy Bear for Michtom, before he started his own company ... the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company. From 1938 to 1982 it was known as Ideal Toy Company.
1902 - Teddy Roosevelt - Dont Shoot the bear
In 1902 American President, Theodore Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in Mississippi with Governor Andrew Longino. He had been unable to shoot a bear all day, so in deperation, the Presidents hunting party captured and tethered a bear cub to a tree. When Roosevelt arrived at the scene, he refused to shoot the cub, claiming that it was most unsportsmanlike to shoot a confined and helpless target. News of Roosevelts compassionate gesture soon spread throughout the country and by Monday morning, November 17, cartoonist Clifford K. Berrymans sketch (named - drawing the line in Mississippi) appeared in the pages of the Washington Post. In it, Roosevelt is dressed in full rough rider uniform, with his back to a corralled, frightened and very docile bear cub, refusing to shoot. It is believed this cartoon, along with the influx of newly manufactured cuddly bears was the catalyst for the Teddy Bear craze in the U.S
1892 - Steiff Publish its first Catalogue
The first Steiff catalogue was published to give the customers an overview of the products that had been added to the range. The original elephants were joined by donkeys, monkeys, horses, camels, pigs, mice, dogs, cats, rabbits and giraffes. The catalogue also reflected Margarete's motto: "Only the best is good enough for children".
1886 - Margarete Steiff's Brother Fritz Steiff Joins the business
With an outstanding 5,170 elephants sold, other animals were added to Steiffs growing product range. The family business expanded, and to help Fritz Steiff assumed responsibility for sales, little knowing the empire it would grown into.
1880 - Margarete Steiff
Margarete Steiff was born in 1847 and died in 1909. She was from Giengen, Germany and led the most remarkable, inspirational life, shaping history as she lived. At 18 months old a high fever resulted in Margarete contracting Polio, and losing the use of her legs, and leaving her with a painful right arm. Never one to be deterred, she fought hard to lead a normal life, attending school and qualifying as a seamstress. Later, she began working for her sisters in their dressmaking shop, but soon found herself running her own ready-to-wear clothing business, that became so busy, she was able to employ other seamstresses. Always open for other ventures, a pattern for a fabric elephant pin cushion caught her eye, and she set about making some for her friends as gifts. They were greatly received, but not for their intended use, but as comforting, cuddly toys for their children. From here Margarete set about crafting other fabric animals, and by 1880 the foundation was laid for Margarete Steiff GmbH. Her vision, determination and zest for life, have turned her company into the international, worldwide success it is today, continually embracing, the memory that is Margarete Steiff.
Germany in the nineteenth century was the main manufacturer of mechanical toys, so it makes sense that some of these manufacturers moved into the plush toy market. This is so with Bing, established in 1865 by Adolf and Ignaz Bing, who found fame with their popular mechanical toys. They produced their premier Teddy Bear in 1907, and soon found themselves embroilled in a legal suit with Steiff, who felt that their design, with a metal arrow in its ear, was too close to their patented Button in the Ear. Eventually, in 1920 Bing was sporting a different metal tag. With their appealing faces and assorted mechanised abilities, these teddies were a hit. In 1910 Bing offered the world their amazing Somersaulting Bear, which once again bought instant dispute with Steiff, who claimed that they had got there first with their 1909 release - Purzel. This dispute lasted until 1915 when they ceased production. Since its early years Bing had been in dispute with Steiff over design, so they decided to opt for something new, a longer snout with a distinctive smile and stitching. A fabulous hit, that was produced in varying sizes. By 1932 time had stopped for Bing, as they struggled under new management, it was decided to cease trading after 67years. Bing Bears are still highly sort after today, with their re-invented bears reaching as much as £2,000 each.
1840 - Farnell
J.K. Farnell first opened their doors in 1840 as a household good manufacturer, before lending their talent towards the production of Bears. Some even say that they were the first to create a Teddy Bear and not Steiff, but there is no evidence to support this. After the death of founder John Farnell, his children Agnes and Henry began a Soft Toy Company in their home in West London. They decided to use the trade name Alpha after WW1. Made from Yorkshire mohair, these fabulous Bears featured in showrooms in London Paris and New York. Unfortunately, in 1934 the factory was destroyed by fire, yet a year later they were back in business.They are most known for being the creators of Christopher Robins much loved companion - Winnie the Pooh.
1820 - Chad Valley
In 1820 Johnsons Bros Ltd a printing firm, opened their doors little knowing how the business would transform over time. By the early 20th Century, they began to print Board Games and this eventuality lead them into the Toy Market. They began trading under the name Chad Valley, after the nearby Chad stream that ran past their factory. Following the ban on German exports during WWI, Chad Valley turned their hand to soft toys, and produced their first Teddy Bear in 1915. By 1920 they had patented a stuffing machine, moved to Shropshire and changed names to Chad Valley Co. Ltd.By 1960 they proudly owned seven factories with a workforce of over 1,000. Business was booming, and time for expansion came when Chad Valley purchased Chiltern Toys, making them Britains largest soft toy manufacturer. Unfortunately due to the recession of the 1970s, they were forced to close six of the seven factories, and decided to relocate to Pontypool. Adding to its decline, in 1978 Palitoy bought the company out, which inturn was then taken over by the American company Kenner Parker. Woolworths a long-standing high street store, purchased the Chad Valley name in 1988, and ran with that Trade Name for many of their goods until they hit financial difficulties due to another recession, and ceased trading in 2008. Now the Trade Name is owned by the Home Retailer Group, and you can exclusively purchase Chad Valley products from Argos.
1898 - Gund
Founded in 1898, and still going strong today over 100 years later, we have Gund, Americas oldest soft toy manufacturer, and one of the first to produce Teddy Bears in the early 1900s. It was founded by a German Immigrant named Adolf Gund, who strived to use the best quality materials for his products, upon which he built a reputation distinguishing him from competitors.
When Adolf retired in 1925, the business was sold to Jacob Swedlin upon the priviso that the name Gund and the company would always remain ... and it has! Through management change overs to being bought out by Enesco, Gund has always been about being - The Worlds most Huggable - with trademark manufacturing techniques, enticing designs, and of course that understuffed, squidgy soft, snuggly, cuddly feel.
They can also proudly boast Licensed exclusives such as Sesame Street, Boo - the Worlds cutest Dog, and Grumpy Cat with many more favourites!