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Valuation and Identification of Vintage Teddy Bears - Vxotic - Vintage Home Decor | Furniture | Collectibles | Art

Valuation and Identification of Vintage Teddy Bears

If you go down to the woods today
You’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down to the woods today
You’d better go in disguise.

vintage teddy bears
Photo: Old Bear Attic

For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic.

Every Teddy Bear who’s been good
Is sure of a treat today.
There’s lots of marvelous things to eat
And wonderful games to play.

Beneath the trees where nobody sees
They’ll hide and seek as long as they please
‘Cause that’s the way the Teddy Bears have their picnic.

If you go down to the woods today
You’d better not go alone
It’s lovely down in the woods today
But safer to stay at home.

For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic.

Picnic time for Teddy Bears
The little Teddy Bears are having a lovely time today
Watch them, catch them unawares
And see them picnic on their holiday.

See them gaily gad about
They love to play and shout;
They never have any care;

At six o’clock their Mummies and Daddies,
Will take them home to bed,
Because they’re tired little Teddy Bears.

Lyrics to the music The Teddy Bears’ Picnic
written by 1933 by Jimmy Kennedy of Ireland

Music – The Teddy Bears’ Picnic
written in 1907 by John Bratton of the USA

Arctophily, or much simply put, the hobby of collecting teddy bears, has been the hobby of many an adult since the first teddy bear was made by Morris Michtom of the US and Germany’s Richard Steiff in the 20th century, after being inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. who went on a hunting trip and refused to harm a defenseless bear. The teddy bear then became iconic, and was well known in songs, stories, movies, poems all through the world and since then, certain make and editions have became collectors’ items.

steiff-teddy-bears
Photo: Totally Teddy Bears

How to Identify and Value Your Vintage Teddy Bears

I talked to many vintage teddy bear collectors, and most of them accumulated their wealth of knowledge on collecting and identifying vintage teddy bears by talking to other collectors and experts, digging around garage sales and visiting auctions, antique stores and specialised teddy bear fairs and exhibitions. They also read up a lot of information online and from collectors books on vintage teddy bears.

For any serious old teddy bear collector, how to properly identify collectible teddy bears that is valuable and of value is key to their collection. But the thing is, many of these teddy bears have either lost a part of themselves, their labels or tags and this mean that it will be quite difficult to properly identify the bear’s worth and origins. Nonetheless, we take a look at some guiding principles that we usually use to identity antique bears for sale. Credit goes to TotallyTeddyBears.com for the following information.

 

The Difference Between Materials

(1) Mohair and Artificial Plush

If you burn a small amount or pull out some fur, the real Mohair leaves an ash but the artificial plush leaves a plastic residue. However, this might not be the best method to differentiate, though if you are experienced, you might be able to tell the difference in feel at once.

(2) Kapok and Wood Wool

Kapok is soft to the touch, but wood wool is heavier in feel and will crackle as you squeeze the teddy bear.

Parts of the Teddy Bears

Usually, it will be good if you are sensitive to the different parts of the teddy bears, for example, parts such as the following are often very differently made among the different manufacturers of old.

  • Body Shape
  • Length of limbs
  • Muzzle shape and size
  • Humps and other distinguishing features
  • Materials used for the eyes, pads, fur and stuffing

 

Bear Manufacturers

In general, teddy bears which have been manufactured by companies that are well known for producing quality teddy bears are Steiff, Bing and Schuco, all of whose products will command very high prices. For instance, one of Steiff’s vintage bears, the Steiff’s Louis Vuitton bear is the world’s most expensive teddy bear ever sold at any auction, according to BornRich.com. It was sold in 2000 for $2.1 million and you can now see it at the Teddy Bear Museum in Jeju, Korea.

Condition

As with most other collectibles and vintage items, the better the condition of the teddy bear, and particularly if it is a very old edition, the old teddy bear’s value will increase greatly. Bears with their labels and tags still attached to them will be more highly valued.

Age

Vintage teddy bears from the pre-World War period are the most sought after and can command higher prices, plus those from the 1920s and 1930s.

Rarity

Limited edition vintage teddy bears are valued higher than those that are produced in huge quantities.

History

Sometimes, if there is a history attached to a teddy bear, or if the teddy bear is said to previously belong to a famous person in history or culture for example, it can give it a much better price.

As a general guide, subscribe to either auction houses who organise teddy bear auctions and get a check on the price guides for teddy bears. You could also check online at sites such as eBay, or Millers who list the sale prices of antique teddy bears.

Some books I would recommend you to check out for reference are Linda Mullins’ Teddy Bears & Friends’ Identification & Price Guide, The Story of the Steiff Teddy Bear, An Illustrated History from 1902 by Gunther Pfeiffer, Miller’s Teddy Bears: A Complete Collector’s Guide by Sue Pearson, Teddy Bear Encyclopedia by Pauline Cockrill, Teddy Bears: A Complete Guide to History, Collecting and Care by Sue Pearson and Dottie Ayers, and the American Teddy Bear Encyclopedia by Linda Mullins.

One last thing to note about the collecting of vintage teddy bears, if you are looking to selling some of your bears in future, it might be a good idea to keep a record of the prices that you have paid for each of your individual antique bears, the places and dates of purchase, manufacturer, date of manufacture, and remember also to take a snapshot of your bear from the front, side and back views with a good professional camera that shows the details.

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About Bei

60s music advocate. Bacon aficionado. Unapologetic web geek. Collects everything from Star Wars and PlayMobil to matchboxes. Scared of cats and roller coasters, in that order. Connect with her at hello@vxotic.com.

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