1920's Teddy Bear

by terry mcdonald
(New Zealand)

teddy bear sitting

teddy bear sitting

It has been in our family since it was given to my Mother approx 1920 - 1928. (see story below)

The bear has a medium length muzzle.

The bears nose is stitched with original rope

The eyes are glass - not sure if eyes are original.

The bear is filled with a kapok type, and some wood shavings - you can see it in the photo of the growler of the type of material. The rope on the muzzle and feet and paws are original. The pads have been replaced but I recall it being a yellow colour fabric.??

approx. 70cm

The repairer believed it would originally have had a hump and it has a growler which I kept out, as it may help to identify bear - see photo. The metal thing has a large 3 on it. The fur is beautifully soft and a light gold colour. Picture 4121 shows true colour

My mother was given this bear when she was in an Orphange in NZ in 1921 - 1928 (give or take a year or 2). The nun who gave it to her said she was given it when she was a young girl. Not sure how old or young this nun was. Many years later it was attacked by a dog and I recently had it professionally repaired. The repairer said a lot of the muzzle material was still stuffed inside the nose so she was able to use. Original rope used for nose too. Ears may or may not be set in correct place as my mother sewed them back on years ago after the dog attack, and the repairer said she did not want to change their position as it would loose its familiar character to us. Was there a button in the ear?? If there was, the
dog probably got it.

It can be very difficult to identify these early bears as they were often all based on a similar design. Often the only things you can go on are things like the style of the nose i.e how it was stitched, the position of the ears, the size of the arms and feet.

I have been looking through my books and early Steiff bears appear to have much longer feet than your bear. Also the ears don't look quite right. I am wondering if your bear could be a bear from the Idea Novelty and Toy Company from their range made between 1903 to the first world war. They certainly share lots of characteristics. But this company was American and i would have thought that at that time it was more likely that the bear came from Europe.
Farnell was an early UK company but and again your bear does share some characteristics of these bears too.

Unfortunately without a label and with the possible alterations to this bear over the years it could be impossible to positively I.D your bear. To be honest only a expert in toy may be able to help but even then i know of many old bears that they simply cannot I.D.

All i can say is that your bear is very old indeed if you say it came from the 1920's and possibly even earlier and so would have some value just because of its age.

The only way to have your bear valued would be to send pictures to a auction house who specialise in teddy bears. They may be able to help. Look up millers online as they may be able to help.
Your very lucky to have such a lovely bear, especially with the family ties you have with it.


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Oct 10, 2021
1920's English bear
by: Caroline

I have a Chad Valley bear given to me when I was born but I believe it was made in the 1950's. I've always wondered if he is worth anything. He did win me a prize in my primary school soft toy competition many years ago though!

May 12, 2019
Please help
by: Anonymous

The bear you have is very much the same as i have got its made the same. I am trying to see what she is worth im not selling her but need to know

Dec 13, 2014
by: Anonymous

Thanks for your help Kate. Much appreciated....I will try and do more research on the growler...TKS Terry

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