Since the first teddy bear was made, people have had a desire to collect them. Morris Michtom in America and Richard Steiff in Germany apparently came up with the idea for the original bear at about the same time. A cartoon of Teddy Roosevelt refusing to shoot a bear was the inspiration for Morris Michtom, whose wife made a bear for their shop window. The Steiff bear was first made by Richard Steiff for his aunt who owned a toy company. Today, collectors will go to a great deal of trouble and expense to own one of these collectible teddy bears.
Around the same time as this was happening in the United States, a German, Richard Steiff, made a bear for his aunt who was the owner of a large toy company. The company began manufacturing this item and they are still doing so today in the same factory where they first started. Their products, whether they were made years ago or today, are highly desirable to collectors. The ones made between 1903 and 1905 with their long snouts, big feet, long arms and curved paws, fetch the highest prices.
After World War 11, many new designs came on the market. Asian factories began producing masses of cheap, plush toys. The future of vintage teddies was uncertain. However, interest revived in these older items and people developed an interest in collecting them.
If you are interested in starting a collection, it is vital to know something about the history of teddies. There are many fakes which are made to look old and worn. You need to be able to distinguish the difference between what is fake and a genuine antique. For example, it is important to know what materials were used during different periods to help determine age. The earliest teddies were stuffed with wood wool and covered with mohair. Their pads were made of cotton or felt. Later velvet and fake leather were used for the pads and they were stuffed with foam.
One of the easiest ways to find out who made your bear is to look at the label. Even if only a fragment remains, it can still be compared with those shown in books. The label can even give an idea of the date when it was made as manufacturers changed labels quite often throughout their history. Steiff bears have a small metal button sewn into the left ear for identification.
The eyes of the first teddies were made from black boot buttons which gave them a beady look. These buttons were replaced by glass eyes at a later stage which gave them a more friendly appearance. Eyes today are often made from plastic.
Earliest teddies were made with metal rods joining their limbs to the body. Later wooden joints were used and finally those with no joints were produced. Another feature which changed gradually over the years was the humped back which became gradually became flatter and flatter.
Very rare collectible teddy bears may be too expensive for many collectors. However, there are many others available which are desirable to modern collectors. This includes those manufactured today by companies like Steiff, Merryweather and Farnell.
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