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Pedigree Teddy Bears

Tuesday, 20 June 2017 11:29:34 Europe/London

One of the world's largest and most successful toy makers in the mid-twentieth century was Lines Bros. Limited. A famiy owned business that began in the 1870's when two broothers, George and Joseph Lines, formed G. & J. Lines Limited, a London based company that produced mainly wooden toys such as rocking horses. When Joseph retired, George carried on the business with the help of his sons.

When WW1 was declared in 1914 George's three sons left the country to fight in the trenches, however, on the return of his three sons William, Arthur and Walter, they decided to set up their own business and called it Lines Bros. Limited. The eldest son, however, remained with his Father.

The company's tradename was 'Tri-ang Toys' their logo being a triangle (eacgh side representing pone of the three inseparable brothers).

The company moved to a state-of-the-art factory in 1924 in Merton, Southwest London, producing mostly toys lile their Father. In 1931 Lines Bros. Limited began producing a range of prams under the tradename of Pedigree. Six years later the companny begam to market its first catalogue of Pedigree Soft Toys, in which teddy bears were featured.  Very soon the company owned factories in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.

Pedigree Bears

Old Pedigree Teddy Bear.

The design and manufacture of Pedigree Bears was probably not as good as some of the other makers of the 1930's and 140's, but nonetheless they were very competitively priced which was important during those very hard economic times, when the Depression was followed by war.

Pedigree Toys were very successful however, so much so that in 1946 Pedigree opened a second factory in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Lorraine x

Posted By Site Owner

American Teddy Bears

Wednesday, 26 April 2017 16:24:11 Europe/London

American Teddy Bear

Old American Teddy Bear Named Mississippi


It has been debated time and time again whether infact the teddy bears origins were in the United States or Germany and along with this many yths and legends are attached to him. However, one thing we can be sure of is his name Teddy Bear came from the US.

It was about 1906 when the teddy epidemic broke out in the United States. Since not much weight was attached duting those times to makers names, it can be very difficult to identify old teddies from those very early days.

In 1905, with the financial help of Butler Brothers, Morris and Rose Michtom started the famous Ideal Novelty & Toy Company. Such was the popularity of the teddy bear that it literally turned this couple from small store keepers in Brooklyn, to owners of one of the largest toy companies in the world. Their teddy bears can be identified by their general shape which includes a triangular head, pointed foot pads, black noses, very long tap[ered arms, beige felt pads and excelsior stuffing (excelsior = wood wool = long tjin wood shavings used to stuff toys).  Black shoe-button eyes were also used on their early bears, although the company did experiment with glass eye (possibly under the guidance of Abraham Katz - a good friend of the Michtoms who joined the Ideal Company in 1912 as co-chairman).

Because of the teddys popularity, very soon other makers started to produce their version of teddy all around the United States.

A company named Bruin Manufacturing Company (or BMC) was established, its teddy bears appearing in the magazine 'Playthings' as early as 1907. BMC was based at 497 Broome Street, New York City, their bears highly resembling those of the Ideal Company (this was a big problem dring the early years, when mannufacturers all seemed to copy other companies designs, most as risk being the German makers Steiff). Like so many other companies around thhat time their productive lives seemed to be very short and BMC closed its doors in 1908.

Another short lived company was the makers Aetna Toiy Animal Company (who was formerly known as Keystone Bears). This company produced very high quality teddy bears but they too only survived for a very short time. Not too much is known about this company who like many others, advertised in Playthings magazine from 1906 to 1908.

Columbia Teddy Bear Manufacturers, opened its doors in 1910 using the name of the famous explorer Christopher Columbus to emphasise its Americanness. Based at 145-9 Center Street, New York City, it imported its mohair from Germany to make teddies. Columbia is probably best known for its 'Laughing Roosevelt Bear' - when this teddy bear's tummy was squeezed, his mouth would open to reveal two white glass fangs set into the front of the lower jaw - which was without  dooubt more than a little bit spooky.

Also based in New York was thw Strauss Manufacturing Co. Inc. This company actually advertised itself as 'Toy KKing Of New York'. Yet aother short lived company who had hoped to quickly cash in on the teddy bear epidemic. Today Strauss bears are indeed very rare.

The Fast Black Skirt Co.of 109 East 124th Street, New York City was known for its novelty bers, perhaps its most famous being the 'Electric Bright Eye Teddy Bear'.

Here I have only just touched upon the history of the American Teddy Bear, there is so very much more. Perhaps you can see why I find the whole story of teddy's history just so fascinating.

Lorraine x

Posted By Site Owner

Teddy Bears By Invicta

Monday, 20 February 2017 11:46:54 Europe/London

Invicta Teddy Bears

Invicta Teddy Bear Named Perry.

This little heard of toy manufacturers was founded in Park Royal Road, North West London in 1935 by partners, G.E. Beer and T.B. Wright.  Beer had previously been a director of the more famous toy makers Alpha Farnell and Wright was a sales representative there, so perhaps it is no wonder then that very often Invicta Bears get muddled up for Farnell Bears (because of a similarity in their design). The name 'Invicta' comes from the Latin word 'Invicti' meaning unconquerable and unbeaten.  The company employed around 300 members of staff.

In 1936 Beer bought out Wright and prior to the Second World War the company became very successful in the making of teddy bears with glass eyes that were stuffed with kapok and was fully jointed.  However from the late 1940's to the early 1950's, their bears were made of wool plish, because of oth shortages and the cost of mohair.  Paw pads were usually made of rexine but velvet was also used.  Some of their larger teddy bears also had stitched claws (like those of arnell).  Their earllier bears have very long arms and very large oval feet.  Most teddies have squeakers or tilt growlers, fully jointed with clear eyes or brown glass eyes.

During the years of WW2, like most other toy makers, the factory was turned over to the war effort.  A few employees were taken to a disused laundry to carry on making a very limited number of soft toys during the war years. By 1948, however, Invicta was back in the factory with new employees and their export books were full with orders from department stores in the United States, Canada, Switzerland and Australia.

In 1954, as a result of strikes and difficulties running a business that was then in a very competitive market, Beer decided to retire and so the company very sadly closed its door.



Posted By Site Owner

Teddy Bears By Wendy Boston

Monday, 28 November 2016 14:50:49 Europe/London

Wendy Boston Bears

Wendy Boston Teddy Bears.

One of my favourite makers of teddies, is the wonderful Welsh makers from days gone by named Wendy Boston.

Born in January 1909 in Acocks Green, Birmingham - Nora Wendy Boston grew up in a family that was used to commerce. Her Father, Ernest was a coal merchant whilst her Mother (Nora Jenkins) was a part of the 'Jenkins Silver Company' who had a factory in Birmingham.

The young Wendy started out studying at the Lawnside Art College and later she went on to work at the famous Cadbury's factory, where her job was to produce promotional materials.  She later married Ken Williams and all went really well for the newly married couple, that is until the start of the war when Ken joined the RAF.  In 1941, however, he was invalided out. He then worked in a number of roles in both retail and pubs until their home was bombed. It was at that time that both Ken and Wendy decided to use the upset to move on and make a completely fresh start. The move was to take them to a wonderful little town just outside of Abergavenny in Wales called Crickhowell.

Due to the austerity of the war years, Wendy used old blankets and any old scraps of material that she could find to make some soft toys for the children of friends. These toys were really rather lovely and became very popular and Ken, who was never one to pass by an opportunity, took a box of Wendy's toys to a Cardiff Department store, who it seems, without any heitation at all bought the lot for £100 - an awful lot of  money in those times.

In 1945, the company was formed with one lock-up shop, one female employee and of course Ken and Wendy.  It was decided to use Wendy's maiden name to register the business 'Wendy Bost (Crickhowell) Limited.'

The popular material, Nylon was invented in 1935 but no-one had seen the potential to use it for soft toy making, instead manufacturers used mohair, and materials such as kapok for stuffing.  It was Ken who approached a Yorkshire based company to supply them with a nylon plush.  It was to be the material that Wendy used to construct her very distinctive teddy bears that during the next few years sold in their thousands.

Wendy Boston

Stella with one of the famous Wendy Boston Toys.

The small site in Crickhowell soon became far too small to keep up with the demand for toys and so another factory was opened in Aberganvenny. This factory was much more modern than the one in Crickhowell, incorporating a glass-walled office for Ken to work from.  In 1955, not long after it opened, these new premises was devastated by fire. Not only was the premises all but destroyed, but also three large export orders and lots of raw materials was lost too. However, luckily stock records and order books were saved due to being stored in metal cabinets.

A third factory was later added, this time at Tiryberth allong with a showroom in the West End of London.

With the advent of health and safety issues, Ken and Wendy could see that soon teddy bears and soft toys was glass eyes on wires (that so often rusted and broke) would be banned and so they set about designing and produced a screw lock-in plastic eye with rust proofed nuts and this design was released in 1948. 

The stuffing of toys was also soon to be an issue and on a visit by Ken to Woolworth one day, he noticed some washable foam and brought some back with him to the factory, which he experimented on, initially slicing the foam into strips and later making it into cubes. This foam was dustless, springy and quick-dry.

The new fully washable bear hit the market in 1954, being launced on the BBC in 1995.

Lorraine x

Posted By Site Owner

Teddy Bears By William J. Terry

Monday, 21 November 2016 15:19:29 Europe/London

Teddy Bear Named Ed

Ed Bear by W.J. Terry

At the beginning of twentieth century, many British toy companies started to produce teddy bears. Many of the larger companies are very well documented, making it quite easy for us to identify their bears, by putting labels, buttons and swing tags on their teddy bears. However, there were also very many companies who started up, especially when the teddy bear boom hit and almost as quickly as they opened their doors, they closed them, leaving behind them absolutely no trace of records on how to identify one of their teddy bears.  This can make identifying many old bears almost if not impossible to identify.

One very important company, who had a very similar history to that of J.K. Farnell was the makers W.J. Terry, who was originally a skin merchant that was founded by William J. Terry way back in the year 1890.

At the turn of the century, this company began producing soft toys that were covered with real animal fur and by 1909, after the success of a little toy dog called Terry'er that was based on King Edward VII's dog Caesar, the company found itself in a position to open a very large factory at 25 Middleton Road in Hackney, London.

In 1913, the company moved premises to Lavendar Grove, which was also in Hackney, where they continued to produce the Terry'er Toys range which by now also included some mohair plush teddy bears....like our old bear Ed.

Ed Bear

Their teddy bears seemed to take on an overall look of the Farnell Bear and that is the reason why, sometimes today the two makers can so very easily become confused.  Just like Farnell, Terry favoured using very large glass eyes and their teddies also had a large hump on their backs (Ed has a very, very large hump on his back!). They also adopted the technique of webbed-paw claws (sadly Ed's paw pads have alll been recovered many moons ago).

In the year 1924, upon the death of William Terry, his son Frederick struggled to keep the business going and like so many other companies, it was hit by the worldwide Depression of the 1930's and so by the time the Second World War had begun, the company had closed its doors.

Ed came to live with me almost a year ago now. He was a Christmas gift from someone special.  He has had most of his fur coat loved off and his joints are more than a little bit stiff, but still Ed is very strong and he often comes for walks in the country with me.  He is absolutely fine, just as long as I put a warm sweater on his, a scarf and a cosy hat - to protect his old bald body. I just wish I knew who loved him in the past.

Lorraine x

Posted By Site Owner

Chiltern Teddy Bears

Wednesday, 16 November 2016 15:12:57 Europe/London

Chiltern Teddy Bear

Old Chiltern Teddy Bear Named Ian.

I suppose you could say that Chiltern Bears were produced because of the First World War, which had a big effect on the teddy bear industry because all German imports (and that included teddy) were not allowed into England and of course, this opened up a very large gap in the teddy bear market.  However, you could also say that the story of Chiltern intertwined with both Germany and England.

Chiltern Toys was originally founded in Germany in 1881, as a toy export company.  It was started by two brothers - Josef and Gabriel Eisenmann.  Josef lived in London at 45 Whitecross Street while his brother remained in Germany in Furth, Bavaria.

In 1900 Leon Rees joined Josef as a business partner and this partnership was somewhat strengthened when Leon married Josef's daughter. The company, Eisenmann & Co. Ltd. brought teddy bears from Germany to Britain.

In 1908, Eisenmann opened the Chiltern Works that was based in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, although their production was mostly concentrated on dolls.  When the First World War began and teddy bears were stopped from entering this country from Germany, the company started to then turn their attention to producing teddy bears.

It launched its first teddy "Master Teddy" in 1915. Eisenmann & Co. did produce some teddy bears too (which often traded under the name of 'Einco' - these bears had webbed claws and can often be misten for Farnell Bears).

H.G. Stone & Co. was a company that was founded in 1920. Harry Stone (who was a former director of J.K. Farnell) joined forces with Leon Rees in 1919 when Rees inherited the Chiltern Works from his Father-in-Law.  Both Stone and Rees opened a further factory in 1921 in Tottenham, North London - Rees takking charge of the marketing while Stone took charge of both design and manufacture. The first toys to be marketed was under the Chiltern Toys label in 1923 and included the popular Chiltern Hugmee Bears. By the end of 1926, H.G. Stone & Co. was one of Britain's leading high street toy makers, the company always priding themselves on the quality of their toys, always being ectremely careful to use on the very best quality materials and hence, that is why so many old Chiltern teddies survive to this day. This, however, did not stop the company from producing one of the very first artificial silk plush teddy bears in 1929 (known as Silky Teddy) and it proved very popular indeed.

H.G. Stone & Co. was lucky to be one of the very few manufacturers to continue working throughout the Second World War at its London factory, although work was stopped at the Chesham factory.  Even Hugmee Bears were still produced, although, as materials were in such short supply their design did change a little (muzzles tended to become very much shorter).

At the end of the war years, the company, anticipating a large growth in the teddy bear market relocated its premises to Pontypool in Wales, as they needed much larger premises to incorporate a school to teach their workforce about soft toy making. 

Then in 1967 the Chad Valley Company acquired H.G. Stone & Co. (Chiltern Toys) and became the country's largest soft toy makers.  With this purchase, Chad Valley moved their production of toys to Chiltern's factory in Wales and for a while the label 'Chad Valley Chiltern Hygenic Toys Made In England' was used, despite the toys actually being made in Wales.

Then along came the seventies, which it has to be said was a very sad time for the teddy bear when dozens of manufacturers were forced to close their doors.  Why?  Well, firstly because the birth rate had fallen dramatically and secondly, the very few toy companies left decided to produce more modern and exciting toys that children of that decade demanded.  Even sadder was the fact that teddy bears on the market were being made very cheaply by companies in the Far East and so, the depression hit Chad Valley, although it made many attempts to survive but in 1978 sold out to Pallitoy.

In 1988, the wonderful name of Chad Valley was bought by Woolworth who used the label for their low-quality toys that were made in the Far East and which did not resemble in any way the old teddy bears of either Chiltern or Chad Valley of days gone by.

Such a sad story of one of the greatest soft toy makers that has ever been.




Posted By Site Owner

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