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Teddy Bears

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Specialist in Silver

"I was educated at Sotheby’s in London, and have worked for 14 years at Bruun Rasmussen Art Auctions in Denmark both as an auctioneer and arts specialist. I have written three books and several articles on the subject antique silver, old toys, works of art, collectibles etc. For the past 22 years I have worked as a specialist on the Danish Antique Roadshow on television. I aim to give you the best estimate based on todays prices and demand for your particular antique or work of art."

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What is my Teddy bears worth

Recently appraised on Mearto

Teddy bears Appraisals

Teddy bears are one of the newer types of toys among those that are collected. It was originally named after President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt when he refused to shoot a bear during a hunting trip.

Since then, bear manufacturers have named their manufactured bear toys as “Teddy’s Bear”. This is a stuffed bear toy that quickly gained popularity in the 1930s.

The vintage bears are made with wool mohair and silk plush. Over the years, there are other types of materials used for making them such as cotton plush and other synthetic materials.
The first American teddy bear was manufactured by a company named Ideal Novelty and Toy Company. They operated from 1902 to 1984. The first teddy bear was about 19.5 inches tall, had pointed pads on feet, black nose, curved paws, and had golden mohair. The earliest batches did not have a trademark although newer ones had been marked with the word “Ideal”.

Why Collect Antique Teddy Bears?

There are many reasons why people love to collect vintage teddy bears. As with any other collectible toys, they were mostly collected by the owners for nostalgic purposes. Many of those who love collecting bears had a penchant for collecting them as a child wherein they developed an emotional attachment for these items. There are also those who collect them for social history and to understand the development of teddy bears over the years.
On the other hand, there are also those who simply collect antique teddy bears for their market value. The financial gain you can get from selling vintage bears can be significant. This is true if you own a rare item or really old ones with proper documents.
It can be difficult to categorize bear collecting under toy collecting. After all, teddy bears are not toys. But building a collection of old teddy bears can be fun. These are cuddly items that are associated with childhood, nostalgia, and other similar types of memories. Whatever your reason for owning a collection of antique teddy bears might be, it cannot be denied that there is some real value with these items.

How to Identify Antique Teddy Bears

If you own an antique teddy bear, it is important to conduct research about it. This will enable you to exactly date and identify the teddy bear since this will be crucial to determining its value (which you will learn more of later). Over the years, there are different makers of teddy bears and they can be valued differently too.
To start with, you can visit auction sites and antique shops so you can get an idea of what types of vintage teddy bears are out there. You can also gauge the rarity of the specific teddy bear that you have in your possession. Essentially, the rarer the item is, the more it will cost.
One of the things you need to know when identifying teddy bears is the difference between mohair and plush. These are the two common materials used for evaluating the value of antique teddy bears. The antique experts will be able to tell the difference between these two materials based on how they feel. Hence, you need to consult an expert in order to determine exactly what type of teddy bear you have in your possession.
The other two types of materials that are commonly mistaken for each other are wood wool and kapok. Kapok is soft to the touch and lighter. Meanwhile, wood wool has more weight to it. It also crackles with touch.
Essentially, teddy bears are identified using a number of factors such as the following:

  • Shape
  • Length of limbs
  • Materials
  • Distinguishing features
  • Shape and size of muzzle

How to Determine the Value

When you own antique teddy bears (or any antique item in general), there is often one question in mind – what is the value? Determining the value of antique teddy bears is easy once you know the factors involved. If you want to know what makes one teddy bear more valuable than the next, you can take note of these factors:

  • Bear Manufacturer – The company or bear manufacturer is important when you are trying to evaluate the cost of an antique bear. There are a few well-known companies associated with teddy bear manufacturing over the years such as Schuco, Steiff, and Bing. Due to their popularity, they command a high price. If you own a bear manufactured by these companies, you can get maximum financial gain from it.
  • Condition – What good is a unique teddy bear when it is in a bad condition? It is not uncommon for old items such as teddy bears to have some faulty features. However, you can still get a good price for them if the overall condition is good (and if all of the parts are intact).
  • Labels – One of the things that will preserve the value of antique teddy bears is if you still have the labels and tags attached to it, especially if it is the original label. Hence, you need to make sure that these features are present during valuation.
  • Age – The older the antique item is, the higher its value will be. The same is also true of antique teddy bears.
  • Rarity – The rarity of an antique piece can double its value in the market. More often than not, when an antique is old, there will be fewer of them in the market. When there is only a few of the teddy bear that you have, you can command a higher price for it too.
  • History – The provenance or any significant story attached to your antique teddy bear can make it more valuable.

Importance of Record Keeping 

As mentioned above, provenance or any history associated with antique teddy bears can add to its value. Record keeping is important with antique pieces that are difficult to date or lacks any form of identification.
When you sell your vintage teddy bears, you can also expect that the buyer will look for some proof of identification. The records or documents that you have can support the claims of the age and rarity of the antique piece that you have. Some of the items you need to show documentation proof for are the price paid for the item, make of bear, date of manufacture, dimensions, and history (if applicable).

Types of Antique Teddy Bears

There are several types of antique teddy bears in the market. Depending on the type that you own, the value will also vary. For your guidance, these are the most common types of vintage teddy bears:

  • The American Bear (1902) – The first known American bear and manufactured by Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.
  • The German Antique Bear (1902) – This was manufactured by Steiff Manufacturing Company and sold at five cents during that time. Today, it has a market value of $1,000.
  • The French Antique Bear (1919) – This bear was manufactured by Le Jouet Champenois and is known as the first company in France to produced stuffed animals.
  • The British Antique Bear (1906-1960s) – This type of bear was manufactured by a London company named J.K Farnell. They were the first manufacturer of teddy bears in Britain.

How to Determine Authenticity of Antique Teddy Bears

Over the years, there have been many reproductions or replicas of antique teddy bears. Most of the replicas look and feels like the original model; hence, collectors should properly authenticate the old teddy bears before buying them. To be safe, look for any labels and tags attached to the bear to ensure its authenticity. In the absence of it, you should have an expert evaluate the item first to check for signs of wear and tear, or other indicators that it could be an original piece (or replica).

Appraisal of Antique Teddy Bears

To the untrained eye, all teddy bears look the same. However, there have been several models and manufacturers of teddy bears since they were first manufactured at the onset of the 20th century. You can consult with the appraisal experts at Mearto to find out more details about how you can get your antique teddy bear valued.