Sunday, 29 January 2012

Smiler and his Family

Some of you may remember this funny little bear that I named Smiler.
I purchased him with a view to restoring and selling on, but fell in love with his cute little gummy smile, so he is still here.
I have been searching for other bears like him to find out who his maker is. 
Mac and Smiler
Many months ago a came across one of his 'brothers' who I have named Mac.  He was wearing Scottish tartan trousers and a bow tie and was in quite a grubby condition  (much worse than I thought when I bought him).  He has been sitting in my 'Old bears to restore' box since then.
This morning I came across this little bear on the net.  Can you see the family likeness?
I have not purchased him yet, although I have given him the name Ted, but I am very tempted.  Unfortunately he still hasn't got a label, but his seams and how is is made is identical to Mac and Smiler - he's just in near perfect condition and has not been played with to within an inch of his life as the other two have.
My thoughts are that they may be Chad Valley bears, possibly pre-WWII, but if anyone has any other information I would be very pleased to find out who their makers are.

Mac, naked and trying to preserve his modesty :)
Finding Ted has spurred me on to do something about poor Mac, so I rescued him from the box and removed his trousers and bow tie ready to give him a clean.

I think I may have found myself a type of bear to collect. I just couldn't let Smiler go.  I like these little bears, especially the well loved ones, they must have so many stories to tell, I can imagine them being owned by poorer children and probably going through the Blitz or being evacuated with their young owners.

There are still plenty of old bears that I can let go on my website or for overseas customers

I will post a picture of Mac when he has been cleaned up (hopefully it will go well).

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Odds and Ends

I've listed a few oddities on my Etsy shop in the last week.  They had been passed over in favour of the mohair bears and dogs for a while and thought I would see if there would be any interest in them.
There is a miniature pram, a little German Lion, Mickey Mouse, a plush and felt Fox and a Teddy Bear bookmark.
The Lion and the pram seem the most popular so far, but then I've only just posted the Fox and Mickey.

Take a look at them in my shop

Grerr the Lion

Mickey Mouse (just in case you didn't know!)

 I have numerous creatures to clean, brush and mend in my 'to do' box. Some will take longer than others and I have to be feeling quite brave to tackle them. 

I still have Gary, the bald Pekingese and now he has a buddy in the form of a very bald, eyeless mohair bear whom I have named Rumble.

The large white Poodle is made by Deans, complete with label.  I think it would have been on a frame as a Toddler Walker because the feet do not seem finished off neatly, and it is large enough to be that type of toy.

There is also a cat and 3 bears in the freezer (Oh dear that makes me sound like a criminal!)

Waiting for restoration

Gary and Rumble - don't they look great together?

Monday, 9 January 2012

However did we survive?

We children of the 40's and 50's that is.

It's bad enough that we had to endure the bombs of the 2nd World War, without the added dangers from the toys of the age.
It never ceases to amaze me when I restore an old bear or dog, the dangerous manner in which they were put together - and they were given to young children and babies!

The fact that the eyes were usually glass was bad enough with the danger of cracking and breaking, without the added danger of the metal that was used to insert them into the head.

Here is one that I removed from a toy dog this morning (the other was cracked in half so I had to replace them).  I just pulled and this is how it came out!  As you can see, it is just a 2" metal spike that was pushed into the head.  At least the glass ones that I use have a metal loop and are firmly stitched in.

Nowdays the cotterpin joints are only used for adults' artist bears or for restoration work, but back then metal washers and cotterpins were regularly used on childrens' toys. 

Tin plate toys were commonplace, and paint used to give the toys their bright colours were very often lead based, in fact there were even toy soldiers etc actually made from lead.

We threw sticks and stones up into the Horsechestnut trees to get our Conkers, Guides and Scouts had large sheath knives on their belts and carried pocket knives. (I had both of those)
Children could buy caps for their guns and fireworks, matches and 'Dad's cigarettes'.

We climbed trees, played tennis in the middle of the road, (just moving when a car came) and splashed about in the dykes catching Sticklebacks (little fish for you youngsters) in a jam jar.

We never worried about burning ourselves or blowing ourselves up, getting ill from passive smoking, being run over or drowing in the dyke.  No-one had told us that the sticks and stones could fall from the Chestnut Tree and blind us or that we could stab ourselves with sharp knives. 

But we survived - even without the Health and Safety Brigade of modern times - and boy, was it fun!

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Mystery of the Missing Leg

You may remember before Christmas that I had lost a leg from a little miniature brown bear.  I managed to find enough mohair to make another and finish Ted Bear
He is proving very popular and has had lots of views, but is still available in my website  and
Well, my daughter rang the other day and asked if I had lost a teddy leg.  She had found it under one of her sofas when she took her trees and decorations down.
At least the mystery is solved and if I make another bear in the same colours I only need to make one leg :)
My next two Pud Bears are a 4" white sparse mohair and this little 6" pink tipped one.  She has big blue eyes.

I also have a box full of old characters to clean up and mend.  Here are a selection of them -

Half way there
The big white one at the back is a Merrythought 'Super Bear' nightdress case, complete with label on his foot.  Next to him is, I think, a Wendy Boston, and to the left of that one is a small, possibly Pedigree bear.  In the front row L to R , a German bear with growler, a grey cat similar to one I've had before, may be Hermann, a mohair headed bear with a sheepskin body, (not sure if it is a later addition) and my favourite, a perfectly proportioned little mohair bear with a cute face.
I have just looked at the bear with the sheepskin body and unstitched a few bits.  Doesn't she look better? (I have decided that this bear is a girl).
'As nature intended'
I removed the bright white sheepskin material and uncovered the original body.  There is a hole in the left leg that I will but a contrasting patch on and one on the chest.  I'm not sure what to do with that yet, although I will probably dress her as that is how I think she would have been originally.
The left foot was missing so I have used some of the sheepskin to form a new one.  I have only pinned it so far and you can just see the pin heads if you look carefully. 
I still don't know what make she is, but with her contrasting muzzle I am thinking possibly German.
I will keep researching to try to find her maker.