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Collecting Teddy Bears
My First Teddy Bear Was a Phony
I have had a teddy bear collection since I was 23 years old. Yes, that's right, I didn't start it until I was a grown adult. When I was growing up, I had one teddy bear. I received it when I was in the hospital at age 6. Someone gave it to me as a gift, and it's the only one I can remember having as a child.
Unfortunately, I never liked that particular teddy bear very much. It was light tan velveteen...not a normal fluffy teddy bear with a cute personality. It had no fur at all. Just a velvety smooth body. It's arms and legs were merely stuffed flaps sewn onto its body. And he had a sewn on face. I used to think it seemed more like a fake bear than a real teddy bear.
Falling in Love With a Teddy Bear
Maybe that's why when I was 23 and went on a Vermont Bicycle tour with my friend, I fell totally in love with a gorgeous teddy bear with movable arms and legs. We were in Woodstock, Vermont, and I can still remember to this day standing in that gift shop trying to decide if I should start a teddy bear collection with this bear. I was at war with myself because it seems like a childish thing to do...start collecting teddy bears when I was way beyond the stage pf playing with teddy bears. But that bear in my hands made me so happy, I finally decided to just take the leap, and I bought him. I named him Woodstock after the town we were in, and never looked back.
My Teddy Bear Collection
Today, more than 25 years later, I have a collection that numbers over 50 teddy bears. And although I would like to say I love them all, there are some much more special to me than others. I like to collect bears from different places I travel to. Or, bears that speak to me. And I really enjoy it when someone who loves me gives me a teddy bear. It means they can see into my heart and want to give me something purely out of love. The gift of a teddy bear is certainly not a practical gift. But it is a very sentimental gift that I greatly appreciate.
Teddy Bears and Teddy Roosevelt
The teddy bear, the cute, cuddly stuffed animal that we know today, originated with President Theodore Roosevelt and a hunting trip. President Roosevelt spared the life of a bear, Steifalthough there is much debate as to whether this bear was a cub, adult, or elderly bear, exhausted from being chased by hunting dogs. But, as the story goes, President Roosevelt refused to shoot it. A political cartoonist, Clifford Berryman, published a cartoon of the president refusing to shoot the bear. Inspired by the story, a Brooklyn, N.Y. shopkeeper had his wife make up a few stuffed bears and sent one to President Roosevelt, asking if he could call the animal, 'Teddy's bears." Roosevelt said yes, and the rest is history. The shopkeeper's name was Morris Michton, and he and his wife had such success with the bears that they closed their shop and opened, "The Ideal Toy Company." The company is still in existence today.
Famous Teddy Bear Companies
There are many other toy companies that also produce teddy bears, some of the more famous ones being:
*Steiff from Germany
*Boyd's bears, and even bears from the
My personal favorites are bears with personality, such as those from Boyd's bears, Bearington bears, and The Vermont Teddy Bear Company. I also do Steiff bears as they are one of the oldest and truest companies to make teddy bears, but their cost is quite high. I am fortunate to have a Steiff bear in my collection, a gift from my mother. I also have a few Vermont teddy bears, from my husband, and one from my daughter that has an 'I Love Mom" t-shirt on in the above picture. I have a pink fluffy teddy bear from Victoria's Secret that I actually bought for myself because she was so sweet and feminine that I couldn't resist her.
Antique teddy bears are worth a lot of money, especially since there aren't that many around from the early 1900s when the teddy bear first came into existence. Flea markets and estate sales are good places to look for teddy bears, but most people today know the collectible value of an older teddy bear and will add that to inflate the price.
Thrift Store Bears
Recently I moved to a new state, and there are a plethora of thrift stores here. I sell items on eBay and have some teddy bears listed in my eBay store. The fact that I have a teddy bear collection means any bears that don't sell just get added to my collection. You can imagine that I find it very hard to say no to a cute teddy bear face staring up at me from a thrift store shelf. I have more teddy bears in my home than you can imagine now. The picture of the group of teddy beats below is an example. How could I resist these six sweet teddy bears that cost me $2.25 for the lot??? Most of them were 25 cents each! And they are all Boyd's bears, some still with tags!
Collecting teddy bears is my hobby borne more out of love for the bears themselves, than for the collectible value. But if you want to collect something so cute it will warm your heart each time you glance their way; I highly recommend starting a teddy bear collection.
Steiff...the Cream of the Teddy Bear Crop!
© 2012 Karen Hellier