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Teddy Terminology PDF Print E-mail
Written by Trina Laube   
Sunday, 01 June 2008 00:00

Every collector should learn these teddy terms!


alpaca: a silky wool fabric made from the fleece of the alpaca, a domesticated South American hoofed mammal with a long, soft, silky fleece; related to the llama

Angora goat: variety of domesticated goat with long silky hair called mohair from which the fabric of the same name is made

Jill Kenny created her anime-style “Candy Corn” bears exclusively for Earth Angels Toys.anime-style bear (left): sometimes referred to as “Japanese-style,” bear with stylized features, such as a large head and small body; based on a style of animation developed in Japan

antique: generally speaking, an object of considerable age valued for its aesthetic or historical significance; in the antiques trade, objects more than 100 years old

appraisal: an expert estimation of the value, quality and other characteristics of something

arctophile: a person who collects bears; from the Greek arktos, meaning bear

artist bear: a bear from an original pattern designed and made by hand in a limited edition or as a one-of-a-kind

auction: a publicly held sale at which property or goods are sold to the highest bidder; see also: Christie’s and Sotheby’s

auction value: estimated price for a piece to sell at auction (either at an auction house or through an online auction such as eBay); generally less than insurance value and less than retail, but more than wholesale; contingent upon the quality of the auction

Bear Museum, The: world’s first teddy bear museum in Petersfield, Hampshire, England, founded by Judy Sparrow in the early 1980s

bearabilia: bear-related items, typically non-plush (e.g., plates, ornaments and figurines)

bearaphernalia: see bearabilia

Berryman, Clifford: political cartoonist who, inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a bear while on a hunt in Mississippi, drew the political cartoon captioned “Drawing the Line in Mississippi” that appeared in the Nov. 16, 1902, edition of The Washington Post; according to legend, the cartoon inspired Morris and Rose Michtom to create a toy bear in the United States and name it “Teddy’s Bear”

boot-button eyes: see shoe-button eyes

Boston, Wendy: developed and patented the first lock-in safety eyes for bears in 1948; created the first un-jointed, machine-washable teddy bear in 1954

bruin: a bear

Bull, Peter: actor who, in the 1960s, introduced his philosophy of “bear awareness” and helped to spur an excitement for bear collecting; he went on to write the book Bear With Me, launching his career as an ambassador for the teddy bear

Crafted around 1908, this rare Steiff cinnamon mohair teddy has a center seam. Photo courtesy of Christie’s South Kensingtoncenter seam (right): refers to the seam down the center of some bears’ faces; to use material economically Steiff cut six teddy bear heads from one length of mohair, and a seventh head was then cut in two pieces and sewn together forming a seam down the center of the bear’s face; artists and bear makers still employ this technique at times

certificate of authenticity: a document that accompanies a piece denoting the name of the manufacturer, artist, date, size of the edition, etc.

Christie’s: first auction house to host a sale, in 1993, entirely devoted to teddy bears

collector: a person who collects; see also: arctophile

collector’s price: generally similar to the fair market value, but higher for items that are rare or harder to acquire

cotter pin: a two-pronged metal pin used to fasten the disc joints that allow a teddy bear to move its arms, legs and head

cub: the young of a bear

designer: a person who makes or designs patterns

disc-jointed: bear’s head and limbs are attached with discs and pins; Steiff’s first disc-jointed bears appeared in 1905 and a similar method is still used by many bear makers today

distressed: refers to material made or processed to appear faded or played with, giving it a vintage and worn appearance

double jointed: generally refers to the joints in some teddy bears’ necks when two joints are used for extra poseability

dry rot: a decay of bear’s fur or stuffing, resulting in its becoming brittle and crumbling to a dry powder, caused by various fungi

electric-eye bear: lightbulbs were placed in this American-made bear’s eye sockets, and a battery pack in the body lights the eyes when the stomach is pressed; produced in the early 1900s

embroidered nose: nose is stitched with thread or floss; the vertical and horizontal stitching and color of the thread can sometimes help to determine the bear’s maker

ephermera: objects in the collecting world that were originally considered to be ephermal by nature, i.e., not made to last, such as postcards or sheet music

A bear is stuffed with excelsior. Photo by Henson Photographyexcelsior (left): fine wood shavings or wood-wool used to stuff early teddy bears; has a tendency to break down and soften with time so it is not used as often in modern bears, with the exception of some replicas and artist-made bruins

fair market value: price currently being paid for the same item in equal condition

faux fur: plush fabric made of artificial fibers; also known as synthetic fur

felt: nonwoven typically woolen fabric frequently used for a teddy bear’s paw and foot pads

fiberfill: synthetic fibers, such as polyester, used as a filling

foot pad: covering on the sole of a bear’s foot, often made from felt or suede; see also: paw pad

Golden Teddy Award: recognizes the best teddy bears and soft-sculpture animals created by artists and manufacturers; a panel of distinguished judges in the field narrows the entries to six or fewer creations in each category; winners are selected by Teddy Bear Review readers through a ballot voting process

Golliwogg: from Florence Upton’s tales about a mischievous black doll and his Dutch wooden cohorts; often referred to as Golly; first pairing of Teddy and Golly was in the book The Teddy Bearoplane by May Byron (Acme Tone and Engraving Co., England) in the early 1900s

Golly: see Golliwogg

Good Bears of the World: nonprofit organization founded in England in 1969 by James T. Ownby “to bring teddy bears to those who need and want them”

growler: a “voice box” fitted in a bear’s tummy or side that is activated by tipping the bear back and forth to create a growling sound

gusset: the wedge-shaped piece of fabric between the two head pieces on most bears

gutta-percha: tough rubber-like material used for some bears’ noses, such as the first Steiff rod bear

hangtag: a thin card tag attached to a bear or hung around its neck to identify the manufacturer; see also: swing tag

heirloom: family possession handed down from generation to generation

hug: a collection of teddy bears

hump: a pronounced lump on the back of a bear, most often seen on early bears

This Ideal teddy bear is from around 1907. Photo courtesy of Ken YenkeIdeal Novelty & Toy Co. (right): first U.S. bear manufacturing company, founded by Morris and Rose Michtom in 1903; see also: Michtom, Morris and Rose

inset muzzle: nose and snout made from a separate, often different, piece of fabric from the rest of the head and face

insurance value: generally twice the current market value, sometimes referred to as replacement value

jointed: generally discs are inserted at each of the bear’s arms and legs and at the neck allowing movement

kapok: a lightweight, hygenic and soft stuffing material mainly used in the 1920s and 1930s, sometimes used in combination with excelsior

limited edition: offered in a restricted number

materials: in the antiques and collectibles business, refers to what an object is made from, such as mohair, felt or excelsior

Michtom, Morris and Rose: inspired by Clifford Berryman’s cartoon, created “Teddy’s Bear” in 1902; founded the Ideal Novelty & Toy Co. in 1903; see also: Berryman, Clifford and Ideal Novelty & Toy Co.

micro-mini: opinions vary as to what should be considered a “micro-mini” bear, but typically a bear under 2 inches tall is regarded as such

miniature bear: opinions vary as to what should be considered a “miniature” bear, but typically a bear under 5 inches tall is regarded as such

Mohair is the fabric of choice for most teddy bear makers and is now available in a wide assortment of colors and textures.mohair (left): material from which the first Steiff teddy bear was made; remains the preferred bear-making material for many bear makers; originally yarn or cloth made from the fleece of an Angora goat but today it may be a wool and cotton mix

muzzle: snout

nap: soft or fuzzy surface of fabric, such as mohair; changing the direction the nap lies when making a bear changes the bear’s appearance

needle felting: the process of poking into natural fibers with relatively long needles that have small barbs on them; “dry” felting technique is used to create soft-sculpture bears and other animals and is often incorporated into designs to add detail on paw pads and faces

one of a kind: a unique design of which no others have been created

Ownby, James: credited as the founder of Good Bears of the World

paw pad: covering at the end of a bear’s arm, often made from felt or suede; see also: foot pad

Steiff released this replica of PB55 in 2002.PB55 (right): name of the first jointed bear created by Richard Steiff in 1902; the “55” signifies the product size (55 cm), the “P” stands for plush and the “B” for beweglich, German for “jointed”; Steiff introduced a replica in 2002

pile: the surface of a fabric with cut or looped upright yarns, or one of the strands in such a surface; mohair comes in a variety of “pile” lengths

plush: sometimes used to refer generally to non-mohair manufactured bears; fabric of silk, rayon, cotton or other material with a thick, deep pile

Poly-fil: brand name of a popular polyester stuffing used in bears; see also: fiberfill

Port, Beverly: known as the “Mother of Teddy Bear Artistry,” she coined the term “teddy bear artist” and her designs would become the bridge between bears manufactured only as toys for children and the modern age of soft-sculpture bears created as originals for collectors; in 1976, she became the first journalist to devote an entire column to teddy bears; the stories were written with the help of her little companion bear, Theodore B. Bear

provenance: the history of ownership of a bear, including who owned it, when, where and for how long—all of which, if known and verified, often adds significant value to an antique or collectible; the records or documents authenticating such an object or the history of its ownership; a photograph of a bear with a previous owner is an example

recycled fur: real animal hide that is repurposed from a coat, blanket or other item and made into a new item such as a teddy bear

repair: to bring to a good or sound condition after decay or damage; see also: restore

replacement value: see insurance value

Steiff’s first replicas of its early bears were introduced in the 1980s. Left: “Papa Bear,” circa 1980. Right: “Mama and Baby,” circa 1981. Photo by Tom Hockenberryreplica (left): a copy of an original, openly advertised as being a copy; in the 1980s manufacturers, such as Steiff, began making copies of their antique teddy bears; replicas are often made in limited editions.

reproduction: see replica

resale value: price to sell an item; usually slightly lower than fair market value since it is a “quicker” sale term

restore: to bring back to a former or original condition; see also: repair

Rexine: the trade name for a leather cloth made by covering a woven cloth with cellulose nitrate; often used on bears’ paw pads and foot pads in the mid-1900s

The X-ray of this 1904 16-inch Steiff rod bear shows off the bear’s unique jointing mechanism. Photo courtesty of Ken Yenkerod bear (right): a bear with metal joints that run through the body; style of jointing was introduced by Steiff and used only in their very early bears

Roosevelt, Theodore: the teddy bear’s namesake, 26th president of the United States; see also: Berryman, Clifford and Michtom, Morris and Rose

sculpted nose (below): noses formed from polymer clay sometimes seen on artist bears

sealing wax: sometimes used to make molded noses for teddy bears

secondary market: collectibles sold by private collectors or specialty “secondary market” retailers, not the original retailers

shoe-button eyes: black shoe buttons were typically used as eyes for the earliest teddy bears

“Pali Montis” by Thea McCarron and Michael Beghler has a nose made from Cernit. Sculpey is another brand of clay sometimes used to sculpt bears’ noses.soft sculpture: refers to three-dimensional art such as teddy bears and other animals created with fabric or fibers

Sotheby’s: London auction house that, in 1982, held the first collectibles sale to include teddy bears

squeaker: a voice box, often fitted in a teddy bear’s tummy, that emits a sound when pressed

Steiff, Margarete: began Margarete Steiff GmbH in Germany in 1880; the company is credited for creating the first jointed mohair teddy bear

Steiff, Richard: nephew of Margarete Steiff, he is credited for designing the first jointed mohair teddy bear in 1902 in Giengen, Germany

stick bear: an inexpensive bear, with thin limbs, made in the United States, mainly during the 1930s

string jointed: bear’s limbs and/or head are attached with string or thread rather than discs; the first Steiff teddy bear was jointed with this method

sub: stuffing made from cotton waste and used during World War II when other materials, such as kapok, were not available

swing tag: a thin card tag attached to a bear or hung around its neck to identify the manufacturer; see also: hangtag

tableau: (plural: tableaux) a picturesque grouping of objects

tea-dyed: material is soaked in tea to give it an old or vintage look

ted: short for teddy bear

Theodore Society: organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the teddy bear

Ultrasuede: a brand of washable, synthetic suede-like material frequently used for the paw pads and foot pads on artist bears

upholstery velvet: a woven fabric with a very short pile, often used to make miniature bears or for paw pads and foot pads

ursa: Latin for bear

ursine: of or pertaining to a bear or bears

vignette: see tableau

This pair of 20-inch Schuco yes/no bears is from circa 1948. Photo courtesy of Ken and Brenda Yenke vintage: characterized by excellence, maturity and enduring appeal; classic

webbed claws: four or five large stitches that form the paw claws and are linked with a strand of thread to produce a webbed effect

wobble joint: a very loose joint in a bear’s neck that causes the head to bob

wood-wool: see excelsior

wool batting: wool fiber in batts or sheets that is used in needle felting; see also: wool roving

wool roving: wool that has been twisted, attenuated and freed of foreign matter in the stage before its conversion into yarn; used for needle felting, it is more refined than wool batting

yes/no bear (right): first introduced by the German bear company Schuco in 1921, the bear has a mechanism in it causing it to nod its head “yes” when the tail is moved up and down and shake its head “no” when the tail is moved side to side