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Teddy Bears Through The Years

By Edited Jan 17, 2016 0 0

Vintage Teddy bears are loved by everyone. They are collected by adults and cherished by children. Teddy bears are made of many different materials. Throughout the years, the material used to make Teddy bears has changed. Vintage Teddy bears were made of different materials than the Teddy bears made today. Let's take a close look at exactly what Teddy bears were made from both then and now.


Teddy Bear Fur
The oldest Teddy bears come from 1902 and were made with mohair. Mohair comes from Angora goats. It is wool whose texture is realistic to bear fur and it stays clean relatively easy. Over time, Teddy bears were made from a variety of fabrics.

During World War I and World War II, bears were made from stocking nets because other fabrics were used for soldier's uniforms.

Today, Teddy bears are made from synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers are fabricated and are not natural. Teddy bears made with synthetic fibers can be made in many different colors and can be machine-washed without ruining the fabric.

Paw Pads

Teddy Bear Paw
Most vintage bears up until 1930 had paws made out of felt or suede. It was an expensive material and was replaced in the 1930s with a cheaper alternative called rexine. Rexine is made from oilcloth. The major problem with roxine is that it cracks easily. Natural leather and velveteen were also used.

Today, bear pads are made from synthetic plush that is combined with arms and legs. The fabric is colored to look as if the bear has paw pads.


Stuffed Teddy Bear
A collector of bears will know that the older bears are hard and stiff. This is because early Teddy bears were made from wood wool. Wood wool is a hard stuffing and did not make for soft and cuddly bears. In 1918, bears were made from fiber made from Kopok tree seeds. During World War II, bears were stuffed using waste from cotton mills. Stocking nets were also used as stuffing.

Today, most bears are made from either polyester wads or plastic pellets. These types of stuffing are machine washable.


Teddy Bear Face
The first American Teddy bears featured wooden shoe button eyes. During the same period, Germany was also making Teddy bears. German vintage Teddy bears feature blown glass eyes. It was too expensive to add color to the glass so the color was painted on. They were attached to the bears with tiny metal hooks. During World War 2, glass was replaced with plastic and the small tiny hooks were replaced with a washer.

Most vintage Teddy bears contain embroidered noses but plastic and leather were also used. Plastic and leather were difficult to attach so they were not used very often. Each Teddy bear manufacturer used a different shape and stitching for the nose. Stuffed bears manufactured today have plastic noses that are locked in place. Collector bears feature embroidered noses. Vintage Teddy bears feature a mouth that is hand-stitched and looks like an upside down "V". Today, mouths are stitched to make it look like the bear is smiling.

Arms and Legs

Teddy Bear Leg
The first Teddy bears were made with metal pin joints held together with a metal washer. This made their limbs and even their heads movable. In the 1940's, hardboard rods replaced the metal.

Today, Teddy bears are made with plastic joints. Many collector bears still use hardboard joints. Most Teddy bears today have movable limbs just as bears did in the early 1920s. However, the limbs today are made using parts that will not rust or break.

TY Shaggy Bear

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