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How to ID your Bear



Print out our bear profile sheet, or if you prefer just use a piece of paper. Look at your bear carefully and write down the answers to all the following questions.

Look for labels & buttons.

Does he have a label or signs of a label?If so make a note of where it was located, foot, ear, back, chest etc. If so make a note of them. Can you tell the colour of the text printed on it or any of the words? Check the ears and stomach for holes that may have been made by ear tags or buttons.

Whats your bear stuffed with?

Most early bears were stuffed with wood wool (wood shavings or excelsior). It was not until around the 1920’s that lighter stuffings such as kapok and wool waste began to be used in bears body’s, their heads were still stuffed with wood wool. In the 1950’s bears began to be stuffed with foam rubber chips. Make a note of your bears stuffing.

What material is he made from?

Mohair, made from goats’ wool has always been the superior fabric for making Teddy Bears. Silk plushes and other new fabrics were introduced in the 1930s. Other synthetic fabrics became widespread from the 1950s. Make a note of what you think your bear is made from.

What are his pads made from?

Early high-quality bears had felt pads, while poorer quality bears had pads made of brushed cotton. Rexine, a painted cotton material, imitating leather was introduced in the 1930’s. Velveteen materials were used from the 1930s-50s. Postwar bears often have shorter-pile, different-coloured fabric on their pads. Make a note of the material your bears pads are made from.

Does your bear have Claw’s?

The number of claws on the bear’s paws and feet can be important when helping to ID your bear. First of all check that any claw stitching present is original. Now make a note of how many claws the bear has, how they grouped, are they webbed?

What are his eyes made from?

The earliest Teddy Bears had boot button eyes but by the 1930’s most manufactures had replaced these with glass eyes. To begin with glass eyes had painted backs and it is usually quite easy to tell if the eyes are painted or made from two coloured composite glass. Postwar bears eyes tended to be made from plastic. Make a note of the colour and material that your bears eyes are made from.

Check your bears seams!

Most of your bear will have been machine sewn except for a small area on the body which was finished off by hand after he had been stuffed. Some Teddy Bear makers such as Steiff, Bing and Farnell left the front seam open to stuff the bear, most of the other manufacturers left the back seam open. Make a note of which seam on your bear was hand sewed.

Does he have a Hump?

Early Teddies copied the look of real bears, who have a hump of muscle between their shoulders. If your teddy has a hump then the bigger his hump is, the more likely the bear is to be early 20th century. German manufacturers made their bears with humps up to the 1930s. Manufacturers in England , the USA and elsewhere were designing bears without a hump or with very small ones by 1930.

Does he have long arms and legs?

Arms and feet were very exaggerated on the early bears. Legs often had broad hips, narrow ankles and very large feet, while the arms would be thin and curve upwards and so long that they reach down past the hips to the bear’s “knees”. During the 1920s and 30s, most manufacturers began to shorten arms, often removing the curve, and reducing the size of the feet. Make a note of the shape and length or your bears arms and legs.

Whats his nose like?

Early bears often had long ‘cone’ noses, flatter, shorter noses began to be introduced in the 1930’s and became almost totally flat in the 1960’s. Make a note of your bear nose shape and length.

Whats his nose stitching like?

Many manufacturers had very distinctive nose stitching patterns. Look closely at your bears nose. Make a note of the shape of the stitching, shield, square, round. Are there any longer stitches at either end, if so do they go up or down?

Do his arms and legs move?

The earliest bears, and some later poorer quality European bears were made with metal rods joining their limbs to the body. Wooden disc-joints were developed around 1905, and were then used on all but the lowest quality bears. A fully jointed Teddy Bear has five joints – arms, legs and head. In other types of bear the head can be unjointed (particularly on small poor-quality bears, and some Irish-made bears from the 1950s) or as with Cub-like bears the legs are unjointed legs to force the bear into a sitting position. Some bears from the 1930’s also had unjointed arms so they could be posed with “begging” paws. The completely unjointed bear was invented until the 1950’s when Wendy Boston introduced her range of bears designed among other things to be put into washing machines.

How long have you owned the bear?

Family bears can often be dated quite accurately by the memories of your parents and grandparents or even your own memories. However don’t assume that because your grandmother had a bear that she had owned it as a baby, this is often not the case.


Now using your bear profile to help you take a tour of our bear museum and see if you can find any bears that look similar to yours. Look at photographs of bears in bear books (a list of suggested titles will follow). If you see a bear that is similar in any way compare your bears profile to the his, go through your check list.

Look in our section on giving the history of bear manufacturers, once again use your bear profile as a check list to compare bears and manufacturers trade marks shown in this section with your bear.


If you have still failed to identify your bear than try looking in some of the following books.

Bears by Sue Pearson (De Agostini Editions Ltd)

Collecting Teddy Bears by Sally Taylor (Leopard)

The Ultimate Teddy Bear Book by Pauline Cockrill (Dorling Kindersley)

The Teddy Bear Hall of Fame by Michele Brown (Headline)

The Teddy Bear Encyclopedia by Pauline Cockrill (Dorling Kindersley)

Teddy Bears Past & Present- A Collector’s Identification Guide (Vols I & II) by Linda Mullins (Hobby House Press)

Steiff Teddy Bears – Love for a Lifetime(Steiff)

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