|Petz : Germany
The name Petz is not as familiar in the history of teddy bear manufacturing as some others but they too, produced quality, jointed mohair teddy bears starting around 19 15-1919. Founded in 1859 in Coberg, Germany, Petz created an excellent line of toys and added the teddy bear around the time of World War I. The company took a novel approach in the construction of their bears. The jointing in smaller bears consisted of simple wiring that enabled arms and legs to move simultaneously. Larger bears can be found up to 36 - 40 inches tall that have the familiar five disc jointing. The ears were attached by inserting them through slits made in the top of the head. An unusual practice that’s easily identifiable. Petz bears will have a barrel chest, long arms with curving felted paw pads and at times pointed foot pads.
J.K. Farnell was established in 1840 and produced natural animal skin toys. Agnes Farnell was assisted by her father and brother who helped run the business operations. Farnell is well known for their bears created in their Alpha Works Company built after WWI. Their first Alpha Bear was made exclusively for Harrods department store. It’s believed this Harrods bear was an Alpha Bear purchased for Christopher Robin and became the first Winnie the Pooh in 1921.
The Bing Company, based in Nuremberg, Germany in the early 1860’s sold enameled kitchenware products. By the first of the 20th century they’d added enamel and tin toys. In 1907, after a shift in ownership and management the company began to produce soft toys. In 1912, after 5 years at Bing, Heinrich Muller left the company and founded Schuco.
Due to the company’s background in metal works Bing bears were known for their mechanical attributes. Somersaulting, dancing, climbing and walking bears are some of the most desirable and rarest bears to find. A key under the left arm was used to wind the toy. Bing’s clockwork bear moved it’s head from side to side when wound with the key. Having mechanical parts, these bears were usually dressed in splendid costumes made of silk or felt with mohair heads, paws and pads. Finding original costuming is unusual. Most of these mechanical bears were under 10” high. Remember, Bing and other bear manufactures made an entire line of stuffed toys. As you search out bears, you’ll find Bing, Merrythought, Schuco, Steiff and others made a menagerie of animals from rabbits, monkeys, dogs and cats to giraffes.
During the first years of production, the Bing ID tag was attached to the left ear, the same as Steiff. The first tags had the initials ‘G.B.N.” identifying Gebruder Bing Nurnberg. After WWI this was changed to “B.W” for Bing Werke. There was also controversy with Steiff over the original design of a somersaulting bear resulting is a law suite lasting until 1915. The small bear hung on chains between two wooden poles and would do a somersault when wound. It’s not unusual to find Bing bears that are similar in appearance to Steiff. However, when given a close look, ears are smaller and noses can be slightly flatter.
Chad Valley Bears: British
As with many early manufactures, bear companies began as different businesses.
Over the years the company diversified its stationary business to include board games. In 1915, due to WWI and the ban on German imports, the first Chad Valley teddy bear was made. They patented a stuffing machine for soft toys in 1916. Stuffed toy production grew through the 20’s and 30’s and the company moved its toy division to a separate factory, the Wrekin Toy Works in Wellington.
In the 1920’s Chad Valley expand. In 1923 they registered the Acrolite trademark for the soft, light kapok stuffing they used in their bears. Muzzles were usually stuffed with excelsior. But, it is possible to find excelsior stuffing in Chad Valley bears.
During this time Chad Valley bears were identified by a printed, celluloid covered metal button and usually a woven label. Between 1920 and 1931 Chad Valley took over Isaac & Co and Peacock & Co. Ld, and in 1938, Chad Valley was awarded a British Royal Warrant of Appointment. This gave the company the distinction of displaying a square, woven label printed with blue text reading, “Toymakers to Her Majesty the Queen”. They produced several well known character bears such as Winnie the Pooh, Cubby, Magna, Sooty and Toffee. In the late 1960’s Chad Valley was the largest soft toy manufacturer in Britain.
Some common characteristics found in most Chad Valley bears include:
In the early 1950’s Chad Valley pioneered safety concerns when glass eyes were replaced with plastic eyes. These were eventually anchored with washers. At different times, nose stitching was modified, but the majority of quality Chad bears had thick vertical stitching with a single stitch across the top edge of the nose. It should be a thick bound oval shape. However, a rectangular, horizontally stitched nose and a triangular, vertically stitched nose can be found on earlier bears. Use a combination of facts when trying to identify a manufacture.
In the early 1900’s the rolling hills of the Sonneberg valley in Bavaria, Germany were considered the world center of toy manufacturing. Many high quality teddy bears were produced by several companies. To meet demand for teddy bears, manufactures used local cottage industry workers from Neustadt, Weidach and other towns in the valley. In 1907 Johann Hermann owned one of the larger toy factories near Heufang in the eastern part of the Sonneberg valley. Records show their first bear was produced in the fall of 1913. They were labeled with a BE-HA trademark for a period of time. These bears are very rare.
Johann Hermann ran part of his company from his home. There were several members of the Hermann family. Eventually over the years, his brothers and their wives started various related companies. As a result, Hermann bears have a varied history.
After WWI Artur Hermann, a son, started his own company named Artur Hermann, later renamed J.Hermann Nachf.Inh Atur Hermann. In the late 1920’s the company trademark became the familiar walking teddy bear leading a bear on all fours, carrying a monkey.
In the early 1920’s Max Hermann, a younger son founded another company in Neufang. Using the first two letters of his name and Sonneberg, he worked under the trademark “Maheso”. His logo was a triangle shape with a teddy bear and running dog. Over the years the triangle has changed shape. The oldest has rounded corners while later versions have more pointed corners.
After WWII his son Rolf-Gerhard joined the company changing the name and location to Hermann & Co.KG in Coburg. In 1955 Max died and his son Rolf-Gerhard became the sole owner. The company went public in 1979 and became known as Hermann-Spielwaren GmbH. During these later years many of the Hermann bears were designed by Rolf-Gerhard’s wife Dora-Magot. Through a marriage connection with the Leven Company, Hermann made replicas of Leven toys also.
Also after WWI Johann’s oldest son, Bernhard, joined his father and their renewed teddy bear and doll business began to grow. In the factory, they made the higher quality bears. The local cottage workers were given lesser quality materials to make economical versions of the expensive mohair bears. He and his wife had four sons who all became involved with the business in some way.
In the mid 1980’s the management of the company was assumed by Bernhard’s granddaughters. The company once run by men is now run by their granddaughters who have continued to be successful in producing a variety of plush toys and quality bears for collectors around the world.
Bernhard’s sister Ida and Max Hermann married into the Baumann family. They manufactured rocking horses and pull toys in a variety of sizes. Betwee1960-1965 the Baumann company made bears known as ‘Baki’ bears. These bears were made of less expensive materials
At times horizontal stitch was covered by outer vertical stitching
Other Hermann labels:
1980’s – 1990’s:
Merrythought was not a cottage industry. Located near the western boarder with Wales, the area had a history of ironworks and steel mills. The company grew to employ over 200 workers using modern machinery, large storage facilities and access to rail transportation. By 1935 it was one of the largest stuffed toy factories in England with 41,000 square feet of work space. During WWII the company wove textiles for the military and one facility was fitted to produce maps.
The earliest children’s bears Merrythought made were Tumpy and Chubby Bear. These had a strong resemblance to Chad Valley’s Cubby bear but later, Bobby Bruin and others began to emerge as Merrythought type bears. Their novelty bears came in a variety of colors besides browns including pink, blue and green. Some were poseable and others had sleeping eyes. By the mid 1930’s, the Bingie line of bears was one of Merrythought’s most popular introductions. It’s difficult to identify these unless the original tag is still attached. Only in the first year of production did the Merrythought label read, ‘Made in England by Merrythought, LTD. Later, the words ‘Hygienic Toys’ were added. Labels were woven and attached to the left foot.
Before WWII a clear, celluloid covered metal button was placed in the left ear for identification. It read, ‘Regd Tradmark, Hygienic Merrythought Toys made in England’.
Tumpy was an early, popular bear that appeared in only the first two Merrythought catalogs and is a rare find. Bingies came in a variety of styles, fabrics, colors and sizes from Baby Bingie to Bingie Guardman. The use of kapok for stuffing made the bears soft. Over the years Merrythought introduced creative, quality bears of all kinds. In 1953 a red, white and blue mohair plush bear was made for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Some basic characteristics:
With Herr Kahn on board, he and Herr Muller promoted innovative and unusual mechanisms to set their bears apart. In 1921 at the Leipzig Spring Toy Fair, Schuco presented its patented Yes/No bear for the first time. It came in six sizes from 25 cm to 60cm or 10-20 inches. If you find one, it should be made from shaggy, extra shaggy or short mohair. A smaller bear should have a squeaker while a larger bear would have a growler. If the metal rod is in working condition, the handle at the tail will move the head to nod yes or no.
In 1924, small compact plush animal toys ranging from 9cm-15 cm or 3 ½ -6 inches were introduced and named the Piccolo series. Most were jointed with an outside wire system and were made in a variety of different colors such as pink, mauve, green and blue to name a few. In the late 20’s a real novelty piece was the Puder-bar. The bear was engineered to fit in a woman’s purse and hold all her cosmetic needs that included lipstick, mirror, compact and a powder puff. Other styles included manicure sets and perfume bottles.
Miniature bear characteristics:
• Ears may be stiffened with cardboard.
Schuco also made the tumbling bear between the 20’s and 30’s and continued to manufacture a similar piece until 1965. These bears were metal frames covered in colorful felt to resemble a uniform or clown. Early bears would wind up with a key. The straight arms and legs would move simultaneously allowing the bear to tumble.
• Early Schuco bears were identified with a round cardboard tag usually pinned to the chest.
During the 1950’s the popular Yes/No bear was reintroduced as ‘Tricky”. He too wore the new plastic tag. At this time more novelty lines were developed that included the wind-up bear on roller skates and a dancing bear. There was also a line of poseable dressed bears with the Hegi label. ‘Janus’ bear was another favorite. It had two faces, one frowning, the other smiling. In the 1960’s ‘Big Bello’ was a talking bear that carried the Hegi label.
Through the 1950’s and 60’s the company sold toys made by Herta Girz & Co. (the Hegi label). After 1976 and with the competition from the Japanese market the company was sold to Dunbee-Combex-Max. The Schuco trademark was later sold and used for model cars.
Wendy Boston: British
During WWII, Wendy Williams and her husband Ken started their toy company, Wendy Boston, with the challenge to produce a children’s product in the face of war shortages and limited funds. After the war in 1945 they moved to larger facilities in South Wales near Abergavenny in the town of Crickhowell. In 1948 they established the Wendy Boston, “Playsafe” Toys Ltd. Their innovative approach to making bears changed the way bears were to be made for the rest of the century.
• Cloth labels can be found on the right foot pad or attached to the left leg seam.
|(C) Bluebonnet Bears, 2009