When you start your vintage bear collecting, remember that quality is always key to value. As a beginner collector, you probably won’t have the skills you need for restoration, so unless you really love that tatty old bear, wait for another. If it was a well-loved bear, it’s bound to have signs of wear which adds to the charm for many. Watch out for replacement parts, stiff joints and new clothes as these detract from their value.
Although Steiff come with buttons that are easily recognisable and show their authenticity, many of the worthwhile bears do not have this tell-tale tag. Sometimes these may have been removed for safety reasons with young children. If they have been removed, it is sometimes possible to see where they were because of indentations in the fabric or little bits of different fabric in the seam line.
All makes of bears have different markings, so you may wish to purchase a book on vintage bear collecting that will clearly explain the features that you need to look for as well as the type of damage on the bears that should set alarm bells ringing. Unfortunately, as with most popular markets, this is necessary due to some pretty good fakes out there. If there is an authenticity certificate, you will of course expect to pay more for the bear.
There are a couple of other things that affect the bear’s value. The older, larger and scarcer the bear is the higher the value with anything that is pre World War 1 being the most prized. Looking at scarcity again, you will find that vintage bears that were produced without a smile tended not to be purchased for children. This means there were often very few made leading to them being hard to obtain now and often very valuable. An example would be the snarling Sussenguth’s Peter teddies. Finally, when vintage bear collecting look out for original intact clothing and boxes as this will add to the value.
You can of course just choose the bears that you fall in love with, but if you are serious about starting vintage bear collecting, follow the tips above and get yourself a good book so you understand properly what you are looking for and how to care for your bears.
Our suggestion for a good book is Teddy Bears: A Collector’s Guide to Selecting, Restoring, and Enjoying New and Vintage Teddy Bears.
Owned by Lines Brothers, Pedigree Soft Toys Ltd out of Belfast was probably the biggest toy in the world between the 30s and 50s. Lines themselves had been making soft toys out of Auckland between 1950 to the 1970s.
Pedigree had two designs.
The first one had a vertical, central seam down the face with a second seam horizontally across the top of the head. Ears were sewn into the horizontal seam and edges folded over. The printed “Made in Ireland” was attached at the top of the back seam and the material described as by Pedigree as “super quality ‘London Gold’ mohair plush”. The head was somewhat bulbous with a large rounded forehead and there was little definition of features. The limbs and body were straight and the bear had a squeaker in the tummy.
Eyes: black plastic and ‘locked in’
Nose: vertically stitched square black
Ears: inner edge folded over and sewn into the seam across the head
Foot pads: beige, velveteen with no claws
Decoration: Red ribbon round neck
Fur: Golden mohair plush
Stuffing: wood-wool in the head and body, kapok in limbs
The second design from Pedigree was a lot different.
The muzzle was more obvious because of a central protruding section in the head. It also had a tilt growler.
Eyes: Two part safety eyes had an opaque black pupil with orange around
Nose: Moulded plastic
Fur: Golden mohair plush
Stuffing: wood-wool around growler and muzzle with kapok elsewhere
Mouth: Single stitch inverted t shape to nose
Decoration: Instead of a ribbon bow, there would have been a bow tie
Now what kind of condition is it in? Does it have worn spots where it has been played with? Please stand back and look at the antique teddy bear like a buyer and not a seller. Some wear is acceptable, but not as a rule.
What kind of joints does it have if it has joints at all? Some bears are called jointed because the arms and legs move. Is there any missing pieces? Eyes and mouths and even arms and legs are sometimes missing. Do you have the part that fell off? If so keep it handy as it can be repaired.
What type of eyes does your antique teddy bear have? Glass or shoe button eyes or sewn on eyes? This will be relevant to the age of the bear. Does the bear have a button or the remains of one in its left ear? If it does have a button it may be a Steiff teddy bear and this is very good for a high appraisal. Measure the bears height. The height also adds to value.
Now that you know alot about your bear, write it down and go to your favorite . Use the information you have obtained to compare your bear to ones that are for sale. Always keep an eye on completed listings and use these to determine your antique teddy bear’s worth.
By the 1950’s this particular bear was brought back to life in various sizes and colours but again fell from grace in the 70’s when production ended and the company was taken over. In addition to the growlers, some also included musical mechanisms. If you are looking for one of these bears, look for the plastic medallion with “Schuco TRICKY Patent” on one side and “Made in the US zone of Germany”.
Many people who decide to make a living selling collectibles on eBay soon fail. I meet them in the line at the post office. They tell me they just quit their job in order to sell things full time on eBay.
I ask them, “What are you doing to find more items to sell?”
Only the people who can answer this question last more than a few weeks. The others soon run out of things to sell and just give up.
I got started buying trains and toys when I was in grade school.
My dad and I collected toy trains and we built up quite a collection over the years. We didn’t have a lot of money so we ran ads, put signs up, handed out cards, networked and tried all kinds of methods to get people to sell us their trains to us.
We bought lots of trains and kept what we wanted then sold the rest in order to keep the cash moving.
Over the past 23 years we have refined a system that constantly generates calls. Here’s a short list of ways to find and buy antiques and collectibles. These 10 strategies will get you thinking about ways to get sellers to call you.
Remember, you are always better off making someone call you rather than competing with everyone else to call a seller. My system is all about getting your phone to ring with sellers on the line.
When you go to yard sales, auctions and antique malls, you are in a race against all the other collectors and dealers. When people call you it is because you have made them think about converting their unwanted items into cash by selling them to you. You are in control.
Sure, you can go to yard sales and rely on luck. But if you are serious about selling on eBay you need to have a steady stream of collectibles coming in. You can’t rely on blind luck or getting there before the other dealers.
You need a system to get a constant stream of new items coming to you to sell.
Here are 10 quick ways to get people to sell you their antiques and collectibles. These will get you thinking about ways to make your phone ring. I buy and sell toy trains, but so you can better focus on what you specialize in, I have substituted the word widget for toy trains.
- Develop a marketing plan outlining exactly how you are going to make your phone ring.
- Have a strategy that will make the seller want to take your offer. This is the psychology of buying and creating a win-win situations. Nobody wants to lose. Make every seller feel like they are getting a good deal and they’ll bring you more business.
- Ask the person in line behind you at the post office, bank, and supermarket if they have any widgets for sale. Being shy doesn’t make you money!
- Show off the widgets you have. There are MANY ways to do this. Let people enjoy the widgets you have and your phone will ring with others wanting to sell widgets to you.
- Run ads that say “Top Dollar Paid For Widgets.”
- Send a letter to local real estate agents telling them you pay cash for unwanted widgets. They often encounter people anxious to sell.
- Tell other widget dealers you will buy any widgets they don’t want.
- Pay others to find widgets for you by offering a finders fee to anyone that helps you buy widgets.
- Send Thank You letters to everyone you’ve bought widgets from in the past, and remind them you pay cash when they get their friends and neighbors to sell you widgets.
- Network, network, network. It’s not as hard as you might think it is to spread the word in a community that you are the person to call when someone has a widget to sell.
Terry Gibbs is a collector/dealer of old toys and trains, and teaches others how to buy and sell antiques and collectibles. Gibbs is the author of two best selling eBay books “The Auction Revolution,” and “The Complete Guide To eBay Consignment Sales.” He has also written numerous other books about buying and selling antiques and collectibles. Learn more at his website: http://www.news.iwantcollectibles.com