Archive for the ‘British Bears’ Category


Plummer Wandless & Co. Bears – Teddy Bear, History, Information

Plummer Wandless & Co. was formed by Daphne Plummer and her husband John in 1944 after she took apart a toy rabbit to see how it was made. She began making bears for a little extra money and was quite successful. After her husband got out of the Army after World War II, he saw the potential in making bears and quit his job in the furniture trade. Along with his friend Dudley Wandless, they started their business in 1946. They were producing around 24 different designs within 10 years. The teddy bears were made from John’s designs using pastel dyed sheepskin with a silky gloss. The first toys were hand stitched but later they used machines. By 1967, they were producing around 70,000 bears. The business was sold in 1971 after Daphne died.


Pixie Toys Bears – Teddy Bear, History, Information

Pixie Toys was founded in the 1930’s by the wives of two glass manufacturers in Stourbridge. To earn a little extra money during hard times, they started a soft toy company with the first bears being made at home and later at their husbands’ glassworks. They hired a designer, Mrs. Elizabeth Simmonds who used to work for Norah Wellings and Merrythought. Her influence can be seen in the webbed claw stitching. When the family retired at the end of the 1930’s, Elizabeth Simmonds bought the company along with her business partner, Major Brittle. The company went into decline and was took over again in 1955 and later closed in 1962.


Invicta Bears – Teddy Bear, History, Information

Invicta Toys was founded in 1935 by two former employees of J.K. Farnell, G.E. Beer and T.W. Wright who was a director and sales representative at Farnell. They operated out of a factory at Park Royal Road in North West London and produced a large range of wheeled and traditional teddy bears and soft toys including animals on wheels, bears, dogs, cats, monkeys and much more. Three of the more popular Invicta teddy bears were Teddy, Sammy and Grizzlie. They ceased production of the animals to produce military equipment and weapons for World War II. After the war, they started to produce bears for export. Mr. Beer retired in 1954 and the company shut down.


Peacock And Co. Bears – Teddy Bear, History, Information

Peacock & Co. or Peacock And Sons was established in London in 1953 and produced wooden kindergarten toys and games such as educational maps, puzzle and building and alphabet blocks. They registered as William Peacock and Co. in 1908 and in 1918 changed their name to Peacock and Co. Ltd. Chad Valley bought the company in 1931 and started producing a line of bears under the Peacock label from its factory in Clerkenwell, London at the Harborne works. Peacock bears were discontinued after World War II.

Typical features of Peacock teddy bears include:
black horizontally stitched noses
large cupped ears
large chest
long arms
four stitched claws on foot pads
drumstick legs
red and white printed Peacock label on foot pad


Harwin And Co. Bears – Ally Teddy Bear, History, Information

Harwin & Co. was one of the first British teddy bear manufacturers. They started their factory in 1914 at the Eagle Works in Finsbury Park, London, and produced many animals and dolls. The first bears were made in 1915, and at the London Fair in 1916 launched a series of mascot Ally Bears dressed in the uniforms of the allied forces of World War I. The sales manager, Mr. Taylor, used to be a traveling salesman for the German bear manufacturer Steiff, hence the similarities between the bears. Harwin & Co. closed down in 1930, affected by the postwar depression.

Harwin’s Ally bears were the most famous bears they made and are very rare and collectible. One example is Lord Kitchener, who was dressed in the uniform of a World War I British officer. The Ally bear is fully jointed, has black button eyes, gold mohair, felt paw pads and stitched claws.


Steevans Bears – Teddy Bear, History, Information

Steevans bears were made starting around 1908 until 1920. Steevans produced mostly bears that had musical chimes inside the body. They were originally labeled with a metal tag inside the ear with the words “Steevans, England” and a serial number embossed in it. These bears are very rare and hard to find. At least two labeled bears have been recorded to date with some other unmarked teddy bears suspected of being Steevans bears. Typical Steevans teddy bears had hard stuffing, black boot button eyes, rose pink mohair, horizontal nose stitching and black stitched claws on the paws and feet.


Lefray Bears – Teddy Bear, History, Information

Lefray was established in London in 1948 going under the name Lefray Toys Ltd. They moved to St. Albans in Hertfordshire in 1960 for nine years before moving to their current location in Aberbeeg, Gwent in South Wales. The took over Real Soft Toys, another British manufacturer, in 1980 and produced toys under another label. Lefray was granted a license to produce a soft toy version of Rupert Bear which they still produce today.

Typical Lefray teddy bears have short limbs, large floppy ears, a golden mohair coat, brown cloth pads and orange and black plastic eyes. They had a growler mechanism inside the chest that was operated by pulling a chord in his back.


Norah Wellings Bears – Teddy Bear, History, Information

Norah Wellings started business in 1926 under the name Victoria Toy Works, producing cloth dolls and bears with her brother Leonard in Wellington, Shropshire. She was a former designer at Chad Valley producing soft toys. She retired in 1960 after her brother died in 1959.

Typical Norah Wellings bears are unjointed, dressed and with cloth bodies and brightly colored cotton clothes. Her teddy bears are labeled with a paper swing tag with the words “Norah Wellings Productions,” or “Made in England by Norah Wellings,” and also a sewn in embroidered label.


Wendy Boston Bears – Teddy Bear, History, Information

Wendy Boston bears was started by Wendy and Ken Boston in South Wales in 1945 after World War II. They moved to larger premises at Crickhowell and Abergavenny in 1948 and operated under the name Wendy Boston (Crickhowell) Ltd. They revolutionized bear manufacturing by introducing the first washable bear to Britain in 1954 and also introduced the safe screw in locked plastic eyes which was attached by a rust proof nut behind the plush. These teddy bears proved to be very popular after their launch on BBC television in 1955. By 1964, as Wendy Boston Playsafe Toys Ltd., they were producing over a quarter of UK’s total teddy bear exports. Denys Fisher Toys took over the company in 1968 and closed down operations in 1976. Most of the teddy bears were made of synthetic fibers like nylon but she also produced a line of mohair bears. Most of the Wendy Boston bears are unjointed with undefined feet and often have ears in one piece with the head. This was so they wouldn’t lose an ear when line dried. They come in many colors with short or long pile plush. The label includes instructions to “Wash in “lukewarm suds.” Some specify Persil, a laundry detergent whose maker endorsed Wendy Boston bears.


Chiltern Bears – Teddy Bear, History, Information

Chiltern or Chiltern Toy Works started in Chesham in Buckinghamshire in 1908 by Joseph Eisenmann with the first bear produced in 1915, Master Teddy. When Joseph died in 1919, the factory was left to Leon Rees, his son in law. Leon moved to Waterside in Chesham a year later and in partnership with Harry Stone formed H.G. Stone and Co. Ltd. They opened a second factory in Tottenham, London in 1921.

One of the most popular Chiltern teddy bears was the Hugmee range of bears introduced in 1923. A year later in 1924, Chiltern Toys was registered. Manufacturing moved to Amersham, Bucks and continued producing bears until the factory’s closing in 1960. A second toy factory was opened at Pontypool in Wales in 1947. Chad Valley took over Chiltern in 1967 and for awhile bears produced had a Chad Valley/Chiltern label.

One of the earliest teddy bears from Chiltern was the Baby Bruin, the Bear Club, of 1922.  In 1937, the Wagmee series was introduced.

eXTReMe Tracker