Antique Teddy Bears-How To Know How Old Teddy Is

How Old Is Teddy?

It’s not hard when you collect teddies to” buy what you like”. With so many endearing faces peering at you from sellers, it can be harder to NOT buy what you like!

When buying vintage or antique teddies it is important to learn the identifying features that help to date them. Whether for the fun of knowing when teddy was made or for making informed investment decisions, learning about teddy adds to the experience of collecting, and helps to guard against buying fake antique teddy bears.

There are several features that help to determine the age of a vintage teddy:

MAKER.

Often, bears can be attributed to their maker simply by style or look. Many manufacturers have distinctive features in the bears that make them readily identifiable. A label is the most definitive means of telling who made Teddy though.

The maker helps to determine the value; some are considered premium and highly sought after, such as Steiff, Chiltern, Joy Toys or Ideal.

FUR OR FABRIC

Mohair was used originally. Very soft and silky, it is a fabric woven from angora goat fleece. Artificial silk plush was used from the 1920s, in various colours, with nylon plush invented in 1938. Sheepskin was popular in the 1930s and 40s. Mohair or mohair/synthetic plush continued to be most popular until the 1950s when acrylic plush was increasingly used. Synthetic plushes were further developed in the 60s, with the machine washable bear promoted for children!

Felt was used for the pads of the earliest bears. Later, after WW1, cotton was popular (as cotton, brushed or velveteen). Rexine was used by some British and Australian manufacturers, which was a coated oilcloth. By the 1960s, synthetic fabrics were increasingly used.

STUFFING

The earliest bears were stuffed with woodwool (excelsior), made from long, fine wood shavings. This gave the teddy a crunchy feel if squeezed. Later, after 1914, kapok (a silky fibre from the seed pod of a tropical tree, similar to silky cotton wool) came into use. Teddies stuffed with kapok feel firmer and heavier, and resist insect attack. WW2 meant kapok was no longer available for toy use, as it was used to line life jackets for soldiers, and so “substitute” (sub) became popular, being the waste from textile mills. Cork granules or rubber were also occasionally used, which tended to break down over time, giving ted a strange sensation of movement within!

By the 1960s, plastic foam (a shredded, sponge-like foam) was most popular, as it allowed for teddies to be wholly synthetic and machine washable. Polyester wadding was used from the 1970s until the present time.

SHAPE

There are a multitude of shapes and styles, however the shape of the teddy bear has changed from its inception, and can help to date when it was made.

The very earliest bears had a comparitively pointed snout and longer limbs. Shorter, stumpy limbs were popular in the 1950s. The unjointed, splayed-arms bear was typically 1960s or 70s, by several firms.

Early bears were jointed with cardboard or metal discs, attached with metal pins, which can sometimes show as rust through the fabric. Plastic joints were first used in the 1960s.

EYES

Originally, from 1902-1915, teddy bear eyes were wooden or leather-covered wooden boot buttons, on wire hooks or shanks. Glass eyes replaced these from WW1, in various forms-amber or blue, and black, or clear with painted backs. Glass eyes are cooler and harder than plastic eyes-putting your lips on them to feel how cool, and tapping your teeth on the eyes can give a good indication! Also, glass eyes are rounder, if you feel behind them with your fingers.

From 1955, plastic screw-in eyes were being used by most makers, as a safety precaution for children. Law requires that manufacturers use these, unless the teddy is labelled as not being a toy.

NOSE

Generally, noses were originally hand-stiched with black or brown thread. Many makers had their own distinctive shape. Some also chose to use curled leather, painted composition or gutta-percha (a natural form of plastic).

From 1945, moulded plastic first came into use. Some teddies were also made with a painted tin or moulded rubber noses.

After 1970, plastic safety noses are most often used as toy teddies for children.

Comments 72 comments

Maire 6 years ago

I was wondering if you might know something about plastic teddies. Mine was about ten inches tall and plastic, it had like a dimple surface for a skin and it was an off white color. I think it may have come from relatives from America when I was born in 1961. Unfortunately my husband burned it and I just can not forget it.


Jo W profile image

Jo W 6 years ago Author

Hi Marie, I'm sorry that you have lost teddy; they become a part of us! Do you have any pictures of him? Did his arms and legs move? Was he a hard plastic or was he squishy? Several companies could have made him, but I'll look into it and reply again soon! Thanks. :)


christine 5 years ago

hi, i have a 9 inch teddy bear who is like an orangey yellow colour,he has glass eys (brown and black) and he has, i think it is cotton pads, he has a nose and mouth stitched on to him, and he has moveable joins. i have had him for 29 years and always wondered how old he is,he does smell old but i dont know how old.do you have an idea how old he is ?? thanks


Jo W profile image

Jo W 5 years ago Author

Hi Christine,

It is often easiest to date and know the maker of a teddy by his 'look' and the materials he's made of. Without a photo it is harder to be as accurate, but he is definitely older. He may be one of the little teddies made by the Shanghai Bear Company. They made teddies of a wool plush fabric with brushed cotton pads. Is he very firmly stuffed? Is the fabric short pile and bristley? If so, he may be one of theirs! He was probably then made in the 1960s and is collectable! Thanks! :)


Donna 5 years ago

Hello, I had a teddy bear that I believe was from the 50's/early 60's that had the "sleep eyes"...close eyelids when laid down and open eyelids when sat up. As I remember he had permanent blue jeans or they may have been overalls. I think I remember possibly yellow shirt but I could be wrong about that. I sold him at a yard sale 30 yrs ago and I have regretted it since. A young woman bought him and was very excited to have him because she said she collected teddy bears. I have researched on and off to see if I could find another vintage like him but can't seem to even find any teddy's with those type eyes. Have you ever run across a teddy bear like this?


John 5 years ago

I have what appears to be an old leather teddy bear. Not typical. No eyes, nose, snout. Just arms and legs and head. No tags or markings. Have you seen one like that or any thoughts? Thanks


suzanne dunn 5 years ago

hello, I have a teddy which i have no history of and was wondering if you can help a bit with age, he has a tilt growl, legs,arm and head are jointed he also has a button in his ear with the word BERTIE and the numbers

6-98 or maybe that is 86-9, longish nose with worn fur and quite long arms that have a curve. thank you. Sue.


Sandy 5 years ago

Hi I can't seem to figure out how old my Teddy bear is but something I haven't seen on any others r that his nose is melted plastic is that normal and who made him


ebart48@hotmail.com 4 years ago

Help I have a bear that is light in color approx 11" long brown stitched nose and mouth clear glass eyes with brown or black eyeballs stub arms no claws sewen on vest brown bow around its neck. checkered red green black vest that has a head pin to close. on the back it is it is written Judy Donaldson. It has striped yellow green red black legs shoes feel like it is soft stuffed and has either cardboard or leather inside the sewen together shoes. If you need pictures or have questions I would be glad to send. Please help with any information as it is not marked and has no tags was purchased at an estate sale. thank you ebart@hotmail.com


ellen christensen 4 years ago

I have a bear that' made of woodwool felt pads shoebitton eyes and looks up


WillisGabrielle 4 years ago

I lost a teddy bear last year and I got it from a thrift shop a week before I lost it. It didn't have eyes or a nose, or any other common markings, or even any kind of fur. It was just fabric with teddy bears and ladybugs as the print. Any idea how old it was or where it could have came from?


looking for teddy 4 years ago

can anyone tell me the stuffed teddy bears made in the mid 70's, they were about 8inches or so, very soft with beans in their paws, they were floppy so they could sit. i had a light tan colored one and a darker one. they were lost in a move and i have never been able to find ones like them since. i think they were also girl or boy bears, the girl one had a bow on her head.


Alexandra 4 years ago

Hi, I have a Teddy and I have no idea of its value, or even who the maker is. If I send you a picture of it could you at least let me know the maker? Thanks


dbyers 4 years ago

i have a teddy bear from the early fifties with curly short black hair, has a squeaker in his right ear and soft but firm like gum for a face, pads of feet and paws. Have never seen anything like him. Very beautiful, but no tag. Anyone with any ideas out there??


Vanessayoung 4 years ago

Hi I recently bought a teddy bear and Im having a hard time finding out anything about it

He doesn't have a tag.

Im not sure how to post pictures on here or I would


Jo W profile image

Jo W 4 years ago Author

Hi Donna,

I'm sorry that you don't have Teddy! I regret giving away my little pony that I loved!

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a similar teddy, yet, but will keep looking! We have lots of books and literature so may be lucky!

Good luck in your search :)


Jo W profile image

Jo W 4 years ago Author

Hi John,

He does sound rare, and interesting!

Leather was popular for teddy bear features in the 1930s-40s, before WW2. His stuffing would further indicate when he was made. He may have been a prototype by one of the companies, or home made, probably during these years, when mohair etc wasn't available to creative home craftspeople. This would account for his lack of markings. Sorry that I can't be more specific at this time, but will keep looking for info! :)


Jo W profile image

Jo W 4 years ago Author

Hi Suzanne,

If it was possible to see a photo, that would help in knowing more about him. There are only a handful of companies who used buttons in the ear, and I have been looking for a reference to Bertie for you-and will keep looking! :) Thanks :)


Jo W profile image

Jo W 4 years ago Author

Hi Sandy,

I'm wondering if it is pure rubber that his nose is made out of? That did tend to melt in the heat. If he is 'crunchy' when you squeeze him, or very heavy, he is probably quite old, and may well have a rubber nose. I have koala that has a melted nose-and it has stuck to other toys! Hope this helps! :)


Houa Vang profile image

Houa Vang 4 years ago from Tulsa, Oklahoma

Hi Jo recently stumbled upon your hub was wondering if you could help me identify my teddy bear. I've had it since I was 6 and I received it as a gift. It's grey, has black eyes and a hard nose. I've been wanting to find out where the bear came from and would like to find out if I could acquire another one. Here's a picture of the teddy bear hopefully the link works.

http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b370/fantasyboi1...


Donna 4 years ago

Hi Jo

I recently acquired a little bear he's small about 10" high when standing, he smells old and his hair is deep golden mohair I think, it sheds a bit, but he feels as though his arms and legs are not like my other bears he feel like he is full of normal stuffing, but his body I can feel beans in or beads, he has a stitched nose, and light felt pads, his arms are very long and his paws are bent shape, his eyes are little black plastic ( I think) eyes, no colour to them just black, his arms and legs and head are jointed, I have a feeling hes not new but he's not old either, he is cute though and I like the way he sits.Any ideas?


Dennis 4 years ago

Hi jo

I have found a teddy bear in my attic which has stitching shaped like a v on the back of the head, all joints move including the head and has been hand stitched between it's shoulder blades, it is full of what appears to be foam pieces.

It has plastic eyes and a black stitched nose in vertical stitching.

It seems to have hard leatherish paws

Any ideas?

Dennis


Dee 4 years ago

I have a teddy given to me on my christening in 1956 he has a mouth that opens he used to growl but Mum washed him many years ago and he stopped ! press his tummy and his mouth opens I think he is mohair a lovely golden colour Mum thought he was either Chad Valley or Merrythought he has flat legs if that makes sense ?


Jay 4 years ago

Hi I have a Bear hes made of woos shavings (hardwood) hes legs arms move has a cotton like material holding them on , he has stitched claws and paws ,stitched nose and with a red felt tongue , red glass eyes black pupil , hes 13" high , the thing i have noticed different from others there is a large 6" gap from ear to ear , and he has a very flat forehead , hes in good shape and hes fur is a light honey brown colour , also noticed that something maybe was around hes neck ...

Kind Regards


JennyR 4 years ago

Hi,

I have a mohair bear. He has a humped back, he growls, occasionally. He has fully jointed arms and lets. Stitched nose, glass eyes, orangey and black. I think he has claws and stuffed with straw type stuffing. I am 45 and my older brothers and sisters had him before me. (my oldest brother being 21 years older than me)

Dad brought it for the family but no one remembers it having a label on it.

Any information would be brilliant.


bryan 4 years ago

Hi i have a teddy my moms friend gave her she had bought for her son as a baby he now is 75 any way i can find more about it maybe if i send a pitcher please help thanks


rhonda 4 years ago

I have an old teddy my grandpa had as a boy was wondering if anyone could help me identify the maker !? Or the year he was made !


ponce07 4 years ago

Hi Jo: After a lot of research, seems my Teddy doesn't fall in any caterogy. About 14" and body made entirely of clothoil. Told it was from 1930. Any info would be great. Maybe it is home made. Where can I post picture?


Heather 4 years ago

I have two mohair bears my dad left me dont know much about them one has a merry thoughts tag and the other is a schariff


Capwill73 4 years ago

Hi Jo: I have a medium size brown body yellow face, nose and belly and bottom of feet teddy bear that I have had for most of my life. I have been lately trying to find out how old he is and where my parents bought him, because they can't remember where they got him and when they got him. He also has ears that are brown on the outside and yellow inside and his arms are short and kinda of stubby and he has medium size legs that are round with a yellow circle patch on them. I was hoping you could help me with finding out where my parents got him and how to go about getting him restored. Also where can I send a picture of him?


Allison 4 years ago

Hi I have just brought a teddy he has no fur about 6" high very heavy you can see the stitch marks all over Him small black beady eyes and stitched nose and paws long limbs he has a stitched in button on his bottom with no markings can you help me identify him


mandi 4 years ago

i have a teddy for 35 years, its brown has joint arms and long arms, it also has the crunch when squeezed, it has the stiched nose and glass eyes. it does not have anything to say who it was made by, how can i find this out, it is in very good condition and has very little worn on it if any x thank you for your time and i hope you can help me


sue 4 years ago

hi ,. i have a teddy bear,. black and white,. 30 /40 cm long,. made by Takas Toys,. would you have any info on it,. i have had it for 45 years,. thank you


janet1940 4 years ago

I was given a splayed teddy bear circa 1942 when it was new. It has rough grey fur, lighter on the front. The eyes are black and green felt, the nose and mouth stitched on with black thread. "Ted" is 26 centimeters tall and is so loved one ear is missing. I was in Sydney Australia when I acquired him. Would like to know more about him. Thanks. Janet.


Kathy 4 years ago

My daughter (now 16) was given a bear when she was little. He has a yellow (her favorite color) head, arms and feet, but his "body" is red as he looks like he's wearing red overalls. He also has a bow-tie (polka-dot). Someone told us he believed it to be a Korean-war era Marine Corp Bear. Any thoughts?


dunwith 4 years ago

My wife has a teddy bear which belonged to her mother it is from the 1920's and has the remains of a button in its ear. It looks similar to the winnie the pooh in the american museum. can anyone throw some light on how to identify the maker etc and obtain a valuation. I can send pictures if required.


Nancy 4 years ago

I have. Jointed brown bear with a tag that says Old Bear in scrabble like tiles. Can any one tell me anything bout it?


Michelle 4 years ago

I was given a very large bear (standing up it is about 4ft high) when I was a baby. I am 30 now. It has jointed arms and legs and a very "rounded" big belly. There is a tag but it has worn away. I am curious as to the age of it and who made it etc. Can anyone help?


Roxie 3 years ago

I have a brown bear. Black and brown eyes . arms and legs have wood dows to move.round face. Can I send a picture to somebody to see what it is Worth


Scott 3 years ago

I had a bear that was stolen from me by an old girlfriend many years ago and have been trying to find another one like it ever since. All I know about it is it was bought in early 1970, was a polar bear with plastic eyes (orange w/ black pupils), black marks for claws, no joints or moving parts, posed sitting with arms and legs spread in "hug" fashion. Any help on trying to find out about where or who to contact to get another one would be greatly appreciated. I do have a picture of him, but the face is partially covered.


Susan 3 years ago

Hi I have two mystery bears one I have had for 50 years he is orange mohair with large curly long fur black ears he is stuffed with wood wool throughout ,his head is static but he has cardboard disc joints and steel pins in his arms but he has stick type legs. His eyes are glass and are amber an black paw pads are black felt.

The other is a white mohair with firmly stuffed legs arms and head.head is static but arms and legs are jointed,stands about 6" tall. Has pale amber eyes and a black stitched nose, his paw pads are cotton

Any thoughts as to a maker for either or both.

Thanks

Sue


Ashley 3 years ago

Hi! I have a Sterling Best Ever teddy bear that I'm trying to find out how old it is & the value. I'm trying to raise money for a "family need" & I didn't know what kind of fair price to ask for it. If anyone could help me with any info on this bear, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks so much!


John 3 years ago

I have a we yellow teddy about 11 inch he has glass or plastic eyes his head and legs feel very heavy like cardboard or something inside head he has a black waist coat its part of bear fur got him at jumble sale never seen anything close to it so please get bak to me


Ollie 2 years ago

I had/got a very will loved childhood bear, he was light brown with blue eyes with black ears an nose, he also got black paws an bottom of his feet, he's a real Fred bear now an all tho I could neaver replace him I would love one just like him, can anyone help me


Tolly 2 years ago

Hi, I was talking with my mom about her childhoor Teddy Bear and the way she described it sounded like it was one made around the 60' (that would make sense, since she was a child around that time) but she said the Teddy Bear's eyes were made of leather, is that possible? Since you said around the 60' the eyes were made of other matirials.


bearwood7 2 years ago

I have a very old small bear with boot button eyes and a small leather nose. He is straw filled and made of mohair. Was told he was made in 1917 but that is all I know


Jenny 2 years ago

I am hoping to find out the price of my Teddy Bear, I had it in 1960. It has splayed arms and legs, black stitch nose, stuffed with foam bits, it did have a label on its foot which has come off, it is about 36" tall. Don't know the maker.


Debbie Greenhalgh profile image

Debbie Greenhalgh 2 years ago

Hi. I am trying to research the origins of my teddy given to me 40 yrs ago by an elderly lady who also had as a child. Wooden joints and wood shavings? I think. Very crunchy to squeeze. Button eyes but my mother may have done a fix with these. Bit of a snout but well used so could have been longer. Brown stitching for mouth and nose and what looks like cotton fabric for pads. He has a part label with the letters jrel or urel both sides of letters are freyed so hard to tell. I hope someone could shed some light on this. I would be over the moon if you could.


karen west 2 years ago

hi.i have an old teddy bear but no history on it.its about 18" golden iin coloured with glass eyss that are orangey brown with black in middle..its hard head n soft body.black stiched nose.both arms and legs have a patch that looks like its leather.and the arms and legs are moveable also the head is moveable too.if anyone can me any info on thee bear would be great.and if i need to include it on my insurance. this is the photo of the bear i hope someone can like to know its age.


mandymoo65 2 years ago

i have a hermann original 12 inch musical mohair jointed brown bear tune is letme be your teddy bear, mohair is thining. complete with tags and limited edition no 166 of 2000 any one know his age?


Christine 2 years ago

I have an English teddy that was given to me when I was born in 1968. I don't know the manufacturer but would like to know more about it. It is light brown mohair, with dark brown velveteen paws and a stitched nose. The squeaker in the stomach ceased to work when I was very young. I have a picture if it would help to identify him. His name is appropriately, Bear ;)


Erica 2 years ago

Hi, I have a teddy bear from when I was a baby. It's called a womb sound teddy... I think? I'm not really sure. I've had it since 1997, and I'm not sure how old it is. It has a slightly pointed black fabric nose, and plastic eyes that are painted at the back. It has a sound device inside that you twist, like you would a bottle cap, and it makes the sound of the womb when the baby is still in the mothers stomach. I have tried so hard to find out how old this teddy is, and have had no such luck.


Meena 2 years ago

Hi I was just wondering if you can pass on any info about this dog . I have had it over 30yrs


eileen Dottori 2 years ago

I have a "1940's Authentic Teddy Bear" bought from Mrs. "B'S" Antiques" (it was a gift) This bear stands 23 inches , his hands and feet are capped with a darker brown than the rest him. His nose has the same brown. His eyes are large buttons.

Does anybody know if this bear has a name


linda chastain 2 years ago

I have a very unique teddy bear that I have had since the early 1950s. He has a rubber face,with open and close glass eyes with long lashes. He is about 14inches tall. He was originally pink and black. If I remember correctly he had a top hat and tails that he was dressed in. I am 63 years old now and have had "blinky" as long as I can remember. Any clues you can give me on his origins?


Sfyfh 24 months ago

Gydgrdgrd


Sue 24 months ago

Hi I'd like to know if my old bear is valuable . He is about 16 inches long. He has a stitched nose and mouth with orange/black glass eyes. Long jointed limbs and bells in his ears. He has a hollow shape in his belly as though there was something inside but he doesn't make any sounds.


dolly 23 months ago

I have a brown bear that has key on its back, it winds up and moves his head from side to side to the music.it looks real old.the tag says Oriental trading company.it has sewn on claws.it has an old dress on with lace and straw hat with lace.his eyes are brown, glass or plastic.


peter mallette 22 months ago

Are you on line


peter mallette 22 months ago

Hello iv reasently aquired a teddy bear it looks like its from the 70s its battery operated has plastic eyes and joined limbs when turns on it starts to giggle then if you lay it on its back it goes to sleep and starts breathing his chest and belly move up and down and makes a slight snoring noise .cannot find any info onit there are no tabs or markings .its about 20inch and a curly clumpy fur any info would be great .it genuinly look old


Sally John 21 months ago

I had a bear that I got from Romper Room TV Show in 50's. He had a sweet face made of rubber and glass sleep eyes. He was light brown soft fur and about 10 " tall . Would love to find one.


Jacquie T 21 months ago

Hi ,Im really struggling to find any info on my bear , he is 24 inches high, fully jointed his skin is leather(almost white,slightly yellowey ) I think mohair curly hair fur, sand coloured , he has glass eyes brown with black center a hand stitched nose, his arms and legs measure 11 inches long and he has suede feet and paws he is wearing a tan navy and burgundy checked scarf with the name ANTHOIN on a suede tag , can you point me in any direction for assistance ? Thanks Jacq x


john 19 months ago

Hi i have teddy he,s brown and in a suit case travel blue box dressed with a change of clothes pjs etc and has certificate of authenticity stating only 2000 made. Thank you, who and value / maker is he/ she. Carnt seem to id one can you ?.


matt a 19 months ago

Hi jo w i have a old teddy that growls but i have found no visible labels or buttons ive been told it could be rare but am unsure ??


gina Johnston 18 months ago

I have a bear that I am unable to find any information about. It only has one label in the back and says pat Stewart it has jointed limbs and is about 36 inches tall it also growls when turned over. Can you give me any information about the bear?


Chantelle Stewart profile image

Chantelle Stewart 16 months ago

Hi, I lost my childhood teddy bear that my uncle gave me for my 1st birthday. Its means alot me and bring back alot of memories aswell. He's name is little ted, he light brown with dark brown eyes he got a tag on his bottom that has my initial on it "CLS" and he from a vintage corps teddy bear from 1987. I just want him back so much. I don't know if they can re make them. Please help to find my childhood bear.


ann 14 months ago

I had a monkey he had brown rubber face & hands white rubber feet he was stuffed with straw really old as lady who owned him was in her eighties when she gave him away I am 40


julie 10 months ago

Hi I have a teddy am quiet sure its a dog it is wood stuffed and very old could u give me more information on him please if I posted a picture thank you Julie x


Wennona 7 months ago

Hi there I have a teddy , he is in very good condition, he has bells in both ears and his growler still works. It was given to my boy in the mid 60's but it was not new at this time. I would like to know who was the maker and approximate age. Thanks


Barb 4 months ago

My brother had a brown teddy bear with light paws and face. He had it in late 1970s. He wasn't very big. Don't know who made it. Am trying to find an exact or almost exact one like that for him.

He was wanting to keep it cuz it's his childhood bed toy.

Please help me with this.

Thanks


Tammy wike 5 weeks ago

In late 1970's my dad bought me s teddy bear, dark brown.. he was red and white striped on his body arms and legs and had a zip up fur that covered his legs and arms and torso, back. You could remove the "coat/fur" on his body! I have LOST IT! Had anyone ever seen a bear like this or know of where I could find one?


Dana r. 4 weeks ago

I'm looking for the plush Winnie the Pooh from late 60s, early 70s...he had a bell in his ear. Any suggestions?

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