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Beat the January Blues in the New Year Auction!

By Joanne McDonald

For those of you who did not manage to add one or two of the rare Charlie Bears we have sold in 2020,  there will be a good selection in the January Vectis Auction.  Look out for one of the earliest Charlie mohair editions in James, who was released in a very low limit of only 100 bears. A selection of Isabelle, mohair’s, plush and if space is short Minimos are the way forward!

One of the best things about working at an auction house is that you literally do not know what you might discover next. Some auctions have large groups of Charlie Bears others Steiff Limited editions.  Within each sale there with hopefully be something for everyone and January delivers some cracking vintage bruins too.

A large part of my job is appraising and identifying teds and their friends. A job made easier for when the maker’s identifying label, button or tag is still in situ. This can also add a great deal of value to a piece and if newer collectors are unsure it provides evidence for them.

British bruins include an extremely pretty c1930’s, apricot mohair Farnell who retains his ‘A Farnell Alpha Toy Made in England’ label to its rexine pad. Labels can also help with aging a bear, c1920’s – 1940’s H G Stone bears often prove difficult to identify as card tags got lost, the company then used a glued-on foot label, this tended to peeled off with age, with wear or was removed by concerned parents. The wonderful Hugmee ted in the sale retains his glue label which tells you his maker and age.

Another easy to identify bear is the Chad Valley ‘Cubby’, (not to be mixed up with Chiltern who also used this name for several bears designs).  The Chad Valley one is quite distinctive with cream inset muzzle, large doleful amber and black glass eyes and two colours of mohair used for his body and limbs. This larger version has his red, sewn label on his underside which also helps date him to the 1930’s.  Like many makers Chad Valley changed their labels over time, this rectangular one being later replaced with a square white tag with blue print with either By Royal Warrant to Her Majesty the Queen (pre 1952) or Her Majesty the Queen Mother (1953 onwards). It is this label that is attached to the Chad Valley Toffee bear in the sale. Toffee was a popular character from the BBC ‘Listen with Mother’ radio series. He was a funny little bear with short legs who tumbles downstairs instead of walking and who cannot carry a stick without it getting mixed up with his legs.  The one in the sale wears the iconic red knitted hat and scarf.

Deans made some of the most endearing teddy bears and animals with those produced during the 1930’s and 1940’s being no exception.  Originally advertised as “Golden Bears”’ there were available in two designs in “gold, pink and sky”. He has the long ‘Deans Rag Book Label’ with its subtle printing and period font.  Dogs are proving extremely ‘pup-ular’ at the moment especially unusual and early pieces.  The black and white terrier made in the 1930’s was a special created by Deans Rag Book for the newspaper ‘The Daily Sketch’, he is complete with his printed card tag. One to watch!!

Not to be forgotten, that other major British producer Merrythought, is represented by a magnificent Magnet bear with foot label.

Without labels for many, bears are difficult to pin point a country or origin or manufacturer. This is when we get to play ‘Bear Detective’… Shape, materials, position of eyes, nose and claw stitching all help narrow down the field of possibilities.

Take the bear in picture for example. He has an inset muzzle used by several German and British producers, has rexine pads most common to the UK, he has mohair with a dark guard hair used by two British companies post WWII, Chiltern and Chad Valley.  He has black claw stitch going into the pads, flat feet and fate accompli, an integral chime which makes a tingling noise when shaken.  All these facts give you the answer as a H G Stone Chiltern ‘Ting-a-Ling-a-Bruin’ teddy from the 1950’s. Watch out Sherlock Holmes.

Prior to WWII the dominant force in global toy making was German toy company of Gebruder Bing. Based in Nuremberg, this manufacturer had a 5,000+ strong workforce producing quality teddy bears and toys in large numbers.  There are two examples in the sale the first a majestic golden mohair bear with an almost lupine expression that commands your attention, something that I find is typical to Bings. He also has elongated, vertical middle stitching on his nose embroidery, as many Bing bears have.   Alongside him is another, also with long arms, a lengthened muzzle, hump, with such quality you can see why these beautiful examples are often mistaken for Steiff, one of the difference being the finishing seam to the front torso on Bin bears, which both of these beards have. There are some vintage Steiff Original Bears in the sale, Farnell, Glaser, Berg plus many others bears too. 

With space being an issue for many collectors, the Schuco collection in the sale may be just the answer. Compact and perfume bears, including a rare green version from the 1920’s, a Piccolo with its tell-tale felt hands and feet, Berlin Mascot, Janus (two faced bear), Yes/ No, pandas and mascots all line up in perfect small scale.

Also, in precise balance are the tiny artist examples from Penny Lane, Mary Myrtle Miniatures, Hedgerow and Anabear among others.

Some bear makers need no introduction and there are several outstanding exhibits in the sale – a OOAK named ‘Little Berry’ hand crafted by Jenny Johnson of Three O’clock Bears with intricate detailing and the most appealing of faces.  Another notable creator is Marie Robischon ‘Robin der Bar’ who has fashioned a vintage lady in embroidered jacket, soft velvet skirt and felt hat. She carries with her an antique stitched purse which holds two tiny bottles of ‘4711’ cologne. Seated beside her is ‘Darling Tabitha’, another period dressed lady, this time created by Amy Goodrich of Portobello Bears. Rachel Ward is another artist known her vintage inspirations and the Barricane Bear in the auction is no exception. Additionally, there are Mr Wockinfuss Bears, Sweet Shop Bears, Samantha Jayne, Lauri Lou Bears and a delightful hedgehog from who else but Sue Quinn of Dormouse Designs.

All these, and many more make for another exciting sale with over 500 lots on Thursday 14th January

For more information or additional images please contact Joanne McDonald or Kathy Taylor on or call +44 (0) 1642 750616.

Charlie Bears Mohair James teddy bear, CBM 073584B, LE 44/100, 2007, designed by Heather Lyell, golden mohair with lilac tip, with swing label certificate, Near Mint to Mint, 13.5"/34cm. NB James was the ninth bear in the Charlie Bears Mohair Collection, which came about after pleas from collectors to create a Charlie Bear Mohair range. Eleven Bears were made in this range from 2006 to 2007. Alfie, Bartholomew, Dylan, Humphrey, Jude and Tyler in 2006; then Freddy, Harrison, James, Logan and Louis in 2007.
Estimate: £100 - £150 Sold For: £420
J K Farnell vintage teddy bear, British, 1920s, golden mohair, clear glass eyes with black pupils, black vertically stitched nose, shaven muzzle, fully jointed, replacement felt pads and card lined feet, webbed claw stitching to paw pads, black claw stitching to feet, wear and patches of balding overall to mohair, rear torso is balding in places, otherwise Fair Plus to Good, 16"/41cm.
Estimate: £200 - £300 Sold For: £260
Chad Valley Cubby vintage teddy bear, British, 1930s, cinnamon and beige alpaca, red embroidered label to inner right leg, amber and black glass eyes, black vertically stitched nose, jointed at neck and shoulders, felt pads with black claw stitching, in seated position, worn and balding overall, pads holed and have repairs, inoperative press squeaker, Fair Plus, 13"/32cm.
Estimate: £50 - £60 Sold For: £70
Dean's Rag Book "Pompey" of the Daily Sketch vintage character dog, with RARE original swing label, British, 1930s, circular bulbous white, brown and black glass eyes, black moulded dog nose, black embroidered mouth, remains of felt tongue, black and white mohair, unjointed, felt feet, leatherette harness, mohair thinning overall, otherwise Good, 10"/26cm long.
Estimate: £80 - £120 Sold For: £240
Chiltern Ting-a-ling a Bruin vintage teddy bear, British, 1950s, golden mohair, amber and black glass eyes, inset muzzle, vertically stitched black nose, fully jointed, Rexine pads with card lined feet, black claw stitching, internal ting-a-ling mechanism, worn overall with some bald spots, Rexine is worn at right toe, otherwise Good, 12"/30cm.
Estimate: £50 - £60 Sold For: £130
Gebruder Bing blonde mohair vintage teddy bear, German, 1920s, clear glass eyes with black pupils and amber painted backs, black vertically stitched nose (with dropped middle stitch), fully jointed, front finishing seam, inoperative tilt growler, felt pads, black claw stitching, mohair worn and balding in places- particularly legs, hole to right leg (darned), holes to felt pads, Fair Plus, wearing red cotton brocade waistcoat, 18.5"/47cm.
Estimate: £240 - £360 Sold For: £440
Gebruder Bing brown mohair vintage teddy bear, German, c 1915-1920, clear glass eyes with black pupils and brown painted backs, black vertically stitched nose (with dropped middle stitch), shaven muzzle, fully jointed, hump to back, inoperative tilt growler, finishing seam to front, felt pads, remains of black claw stitching, stuffing shifted to limbs, left eye is glued in position, slight wear to mohair- right ear has thinning to mohair, tips of arms and toes have wear to mohair, felt pads are holed, wearing dark blue woollen and cotton sailor's uniform, Excellent, 20"/51cm.
Estimate: £300 - £500 Sold For: £580
Three O'Clock Bears Little Berry, artist designed teddy bear by Jenny Johnson, OOAK, blonde with brown tip mohair, cloth sewn-in label, black glass eyes, shaven muzzle, black vertically stitched nose, fully jointed with wobble head, ultrasuede pads, wearing woollen boucle knit jacket, red fleece cap, swing label certificate, Near Mint to Mint; 13"/33cm.
Estimate: £50 - £70 Sold For: £150