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Chiltern

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Company History

Date Event
1908 Joseph Eisenmann opened Chiltern Toy Works at Bellingdon Road, Chesham, Buckinghamshire. The company name "Chiltern" was taken from the Chiltern Hills surrounding the area.
1915 Chiltern produced their first bear i.e. "Master Teddy"
1919 Leon Rees inherited the Chiltern Toy Works from his father-in-law Josef Eisenmann of Eisenmann & Co.
1920 Leon formed a partnership with Harry Stone, formerly of J K Farnell, and formed H G Stone & Co.
They relocated to larger premises at the Chiltern Toy Works, Waterside, Chesham
1923 Chiltern Toys trade name appeared.
1929 A new factory was built at Bernard Road, South Tottenham
1932 Registered as a private limited company
1934 Harry Stone died
1940 Toy making stopped at Chesham due to the war but some toys were made throughout the war in London
1946 A new factory was built at Pontypool, Monmouth in Wales
1960 Amersham Toy Works in Chesham closed, all production work was transferred to Pontypool
1963 Leon Rees died
1964 Company taken over by Dunbee-Combex
1967 Chiltern was taken over by Chad Valley - for a while bears produced from that date bore a Chad Valley Chiltern label

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Chiltern Bears

Chiltern's first bear Master Teddy was produced in 1915. He had a large round head with small ears and large glass eyes. His nose had vertical stitching and he wore a smile showing his small pink felt tongue. His linen body was dressed with a cotton jacket/shirt and wore felt dungarees. Master Teddy was made in five sizes, he is now very rare and very collectable.

In 1923 the very popular Hugmee range was introduced - this range may be one of the most loved Chiltern bears. Due to it's popularity the Hugmee was produced until the 1960's. They were made in many colours i.e. golden - the most popular, blue, pink, white, green, and blonde.

Characteristics of the 1920/30 (pre-war) Hugmee's include:

  • good quality mohair
  • long muzzle, noses have elongated upward stitches on outside edges
  • clear or amber and black glass eyes which were sewn in and tied at back of head
  • large thighs which taper at ankles (drumstick legs)
  • large tummy
  • body stuffed with kapok
  • long curved arms with spoon-shaped paws and four claws
  • pointed feet, larger bears had cardboard inserts to help keep the shape
  • velvet or cotton paws and footpads with embroidered claws

Later bears had some changes which, generally, meant using less fabric as it was difficult to acquire after the war i.e.

  • shorter and thinner arms and legs
  • flatter faces
  • smaller feet
  • pads made of rexine
  • nose was shaped like a shield. In 1960 the plastic nose was introduced

In the 1950s Chiltern produced a Ting-a-ling bear, which was fully jointed and it's body contained a metal ring of teeth and a metal clapper which, when the toy is moved, makes a musical sound. Another toy of the 1950s was a musical Bruin bear. Bruin was a standing bear, he was approximately 30cm (12") tall. Bruin's arms and legs were not jointed but, when wound by the key in his back, his head moved from side to side and the music box played a tune.

    Master Teddy
    Bruin
    Ting-a-Ling
    1950's Hugmee
    Chiltern Master Teddy c1915 Chiltern Bruin Chiltern Ting-a-Ling Chiltern 1950's Hugmee bear image

    These are just a few examples, visit our Vintage Bears where, depending on availability, you will see more Chiltern bears.

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Chiltern Bear Identification

We've already given quite a detailed description of the very popular Hugmee above but Chiltern made many other bears, here are some of their general characteristics:

  • Eyes: early bears may have clear glass eyes with black pupils but most Chiltern bears have large brown glass eyes which are sewn in and tied with a knot at the back of the head
  • Fabrics: high quality, coloured mohair. In the early 1960's Chiltern introduced the Washable Chiltern Toy series with toys made of nylon plush and stuffed with 'fairy foam' - a one-piece foam filling.
  • Filling: generally bears had soft (kapok) stuffing in body and limbs and wood-wool in their head and around any squeaker and joints.
  • Muzzle/nose: Earlier Chad Valley bears usually have shaved muzzles, this trend changed and unshaved muzzles became characteristic in the 1950's. The nose stitching had long, upward end stitches until the 1940's when the shield shape was used. Black, moulded plastic noses were first introduced around 1958 but weren't used in earnest until the early 1960's.
  • Labels: cardboard labels were used until the 1940's - they are very rarely found today. Fabric labels were then introduced with a red printed label, often sewn in the side seam, and then in the 1950's a white label, with blue print, was used:

    Chiltern Hygenic Toys  red  label image Chiltern Hygenic Toys blue label image

  • When Chiltern was taken over by Chad Valley in 1967, the Chad Valley Chiltern white label, again with blue print, was used:

    CHAD VALLEY
    CHILTERN
    HYGIENIC
    TOYS
    MADE IN ENGLAND

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