Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teddy Bear Mystery Solved

A while back, I posted an entry about an antique teddy bear that I had tentatively identified as American, from the early 1920s. Well, was I ever wrong! But I wouldn't have known without a recent teddy bear purchase and a tip from its helpful eBay seller.

Here are the two bears in question, side by side. The gold bear is the first one, which we guessed was American based on the inset cloth nose and happy expression. But it remained a puzzling bruin, with a very odd body structure, and I remained rather uncertain about it. A couple of weeks ago, I found the second bear, the white one on the right, and after studying it, realized they're both by the same maker. The wear present on the first bear makes them not as obviously identical as one might hope, but the type of eyes, size and placement of ears (which contain tiny squeakers!), inset cloth nose, crooked grins, tubby body shape, and the unusual limbs all match.

What really clinched the ID was the claw stitching, some of the most unusual I've ever seen. The feet feature odd, linked up stitches, while the paws have very long, thick claws.

The seller of the white bear suggested the British maker, Peacock, as the source, with a date of 1914, and using that information I finally found a reference to this bear in a guide book. Turns out it's a pretty rare bear, so I feel doubly lucky to now have two!


  1. They're both very cute, but the wear is what gives them their individual personalities.

  2. What a terrific find! Congratulations!

  3. the one photo of a group of teddies I see some Sailor Dolls in the background.
    Can you tell me anything about them?..I just recently acquired two similar ones.

  4. Hi Michelle,

    Aren't they cute?! They're souvenir dolls that were sold on the grand transatlantic ocean liners in the 1920s & 1930s. There were many manufacturers of these types of dolls, but the finest were made by Norah Wellings of Great Britain. They have molded felt heads with hand-painted faces, and the bodies are generally velour or velvet. Wellings' sailor dolls have identifying labels sewn across the foot. The ship names were embroidered or painted on the hat brims. It's very interesting to find one of these dolls and then research the ship name to learn about it. Many times, you'll discover that the liner was converted to a military carrier or merchant marine vessel during the war, and some were, sadly, sunk. Later and cheaper versions of these dolls often featured composition or celluloid faces.

  5. Thanks for your insight for your fantastic posting. I’m glad I have taken the time to see this.teddy bear