So, you’ve cleaned out your attic and found the teddy bear passed down to you from your great grandma. Or you spotted an aged-looking teddy bear at the flea market and bought it for a steal. Now you want to know—how old is it?
Maybe you’re trying to figure out how much your bear is worth or simply want to identify as much as possible about the newest member of your collection. Either way, there are a few things you can do to narrow down the date of your bear’s creation!
Try to identify the manufacturer.
If you can determine the maker, you’ll more than likely be able to narrow down the age, country of origin, and the value of your antique bear—and if it’s an antique at all. Once you know where your bear came from, you can compare it to the designer’s body of work and more accurately date it.
Check for a label or any documentation associated with the bear. Or, do some research about the most defining characteristics of teddy bears from a certain country and time period. For example, the French Antique Bear (circa 1919) is known for its variety of colorful bodies and ear linings.
Determine what it’s made from.
The fur, fabric, and stuffing used to create teddy bears has significantly evolved over time. Figuring out what materials were used to make your bear can be extremely helpful in the dating process.
For example, real Mohair was used in the earliest bears and later reproduced synthetically. Identifying real Mohair is a sign that your bear might qualify as an antique and be worth a good amount of money.
Another telltale sign of an antique bear is wood wool stuffing, as many manufacturers switched to kapok stuffing and then polyester wadding in the 1970s. Hug your bear—does it feel crunchy? That’s wood wool! Is it firmer and heavier than modern teddy bears? That’s kapok.
Look at your bear’s features.
Characteristics in a teddy bear’s face and body can often reflect a specific time period of manufacture. Early teddy bear eyes, for instance, were typically made of shoe buttons and later evolved to glass, wood, and then the plastic ones we use today.
Shape is another good feature to use when dating your bear. The oldest teddy bears had more of a pointed snout and longer limbs that were often jointed using cardboard or metal discs and pins. In the 60s and 70s, the splayed-arm look from manufacturers like Steiff came to prominence.
Since 1981, the mother-daughter team at Gigi’s Dolls and Sherry’s Teddy Bears has been stocking up on antique and vintage stuffed teddy bears for you to add to your collection! We even offer repair services for bears you may have or find that need to be brought back to life.
Browse our selection online or stop into our store today to get your hands on one of our adorable collectible teddy bears!