They can be mass produced by toy manufacturers or individually hand-made by ‘teddy bear artists’.
Teddy bear collectors are known as ‘arctophiles’.
A revival in high-quality collectible bears started in 1969 when the popular British character actor Peter Bull, famous for his role in ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’ amongst others, wrote a book entitled ‘Bear With Me’ (later re-titled ‘The Teddy Bear Book’) about his collection and affection for the toy.
The idea of collecting teddy bears was placed back into the public consciousness, and collectors began to hunt for older models made by the traditional manufacturers.
As this practice developed, the cottage industry of ‘bear artists’ producing individual, hand-made bears began to grow and the market for collectible bears was born.
In 1985 the Teddy Bear Artists Guild was formed in America, and Christie's held its first auction dedicated to the sale of antique bears.
The market for collectible bears is currently booming worldwide, and in 2005 Steiff created a special limited-edition bear to celebrate their 125th anniversary.
Featuring a mouth made of solid gold, fur made from gold thread and eyes with pupils of sapphire and irises made of 20 tiny diamonds, the bear is priced at £43,000.
The origin of the term "teddy bear"
Teddy bears began life in November 1902 when the 26th President of the United States, Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt, was hunting in Mississippi.
Unable to find any adult bears, his hosts caught and tethered a baby bear and presented it to the President as a sitting target. Roosevelt refused, uttering the immortal words, ‘Spare the bear! I will not shoot a tethered animal.’
This scene was immortalised the next day by illustrator Clifford Berryman in a Washington Post political cartoon, which was quickly re-printed across the country.
The first teddy bear
Morris Michtom saw the drawing of Roosevelt and the bear cub and was inspired to create a new toy.
He created a little stuffed bear cub and put it in his shop window with a sign that read "Teddy's bear," after sending a bear to Roosevelt and receiving permission to use his name. The toys were an immediate success and Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co.
Roosevelt also used the bear as a successful political mascot when on the campaign trail.
There had been toy bears before this incident, but the majority of them had portrayed the animals in a more realistic manner. Since the 1880s European manufacturers had created bears that moved with clockwork mechanisms or that could be pushed along on wheels, but their popularity had never been widespread.
In 1902 the German toy company Steiff had developed a toy bear with jointed arms and legs and covered in a soft fibre called Plush.
It was the brainchild of Richard Steiff, nephew of the company’s founder Margaret Steiff, and was first displayed at the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903.
An American businessman at the fair discovered the toy bear, and placed an order for 3000 based on the newfound popularity of the toys back in the United States.
From 1906, several other companies began to manufacture teddy bears and these early models by Steiff, Ideal Novelty and Toy Co and the Columbia Teddy Bear Company are some of the most valuable and sought after by collectors.
Between 1903 and 1908 the number of teddy bears produced shot up from 12,000 to 975,000 per year, and their popularity was increased by the introduction of two popular bear characters: Rupert Bear in 1920 and Winnie the Pooh in 1926.
Some of the best-known manufacturers during this period were Bing, Schuco, Hermann, J.K. Farnell (which made the original Winnie-the -Pooh bought for Christopher Robin in 1921), Dean’s, and Merrythought.
Second World War
During the Second World War the production of teddy bears slowed down as toy manufacturers turned their attention to producing essential war supplies.
Steiff resumed production in 1947, and by 1948 had a workforce of almost 1000 people. By 1953 this figure had doubled as the company released a series of new models to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the teddy bear.
During the 1960s the traditional manufacturers lost ground to companies in China and Indonesia, as cheaper mass-produced bears took over the market.
Teddy bear manufacturers
Main article: List of notable teddy bear manufacturers
There are several companies that produce high-quality collectible bears around the world. In addition there are many ‘bear artists’ producing individual, hand-made collectors bears.
Main article: List of teddy bear collecting terms
The world’s most expensive teddy bear
The most expensive teddy bear ever sold at auction is the 1904 Steiff ‘teddy girl’ bear.
It was sold at Christies in 1994 to Yoshihiro Sekiguchi, owner of the Izu Teddy Bear Museum in Japan, for £110,000.
Other notable teddy bears
Main article: List of notable teddy bears
Notable teddy bear collections and collectors
Teddy bear dealers
Main article: List of antique teddy bear dealers
Clubs and societies
Main article: List of teddy bear collectors' clubs and societies
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