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Gabrielle Designs

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Company History

Date Event
1972 Small, home-based, business started by Shirley and Eddie Clarkson. Based in Burghwallis near Doncaster, Yorkshire. Gabrielle Designs licensed to make Paddington Bear in the UK.
1994 Eddie passed away
1995 In March Shirley Clarkson sold Gabrielle Designs to businessman Stephen Beaumont. Gabrielle acquired the license to produce Enesco's Cherished Teddies. A collectors club was launched.
1998 Gabrielle Designs ceased trading early 1998 - the company went into liquidation with debts of around £300,000 - the demise of the company was reputedly due to cheap imports from the Far East.

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Gabrielle Designs Bears

Paddington Bear
Paddington's Label
Aunt Lucy
Orient Express Chief Steward
Hooray Henry Caroline Henry & Caroline's Wedding
Paddington Bear
Paddington's label Aunt Lucy Chief Steward Hooray Henry Caroline Henry & Caroline's Wedding

Visit our vintage and antique bears where, depending upon availability, you can see more Gabrielle bears.

Paddington Bear was made famous by the author Michael Bond who published the book A Bear Called Paddington in 1958. Paddington Bear was found, sitting on his suitcase at Paddington Station, London by the Brown family. He had been sent from Darkest Peru by his Aunt Lucy who had gone to live in a home for retired bears in Lima, Peru. Paddington went on to feature in a series of about 14 books plus animated TV series, a multitude of ephemera and other merchandise and a stage show.

Shirley Clarkson made the first Paddington bears for her children, Jeremy and Joanna, for Christmas 1971. Jeremy Clarkson went on to become a well known personality associated with the BBC TV series Top Gear.

Shirley dressed Paddington in wellington boots to help him stand. The early bears wore small children's (size 5) boots manufactured by Dunlop. However, Dunlop could not supply sufficient quantities of these boots so Gabrielle Designs had them specially made with pawprints and PB embossed on the sole.

Gabrielle Designs had strong emphasis on producing Paddington, different clothes were made for him e.g. yellow raincoat and sou' wester, floral pyjamas, a dressing gown and, in 1986, Rugby strips. In 1987 a special Chief Steward was designed with a view to selling him to those travelling on the Orient Express. The Chief Steward was 38cm (15") tall and wore a smart blue felt uniform and shiney boots - see his picture above. There were also Henry and Caroline, the Sloane bears who married (see pictures above). However they did make other versions of bears i.e. bean-filled, glove puppets and the famous Paddington's Aunt Lucy. Aunt Lucy was the same design as Paddington but made of a dark brown-grey mohair. She wore a cotton wrap, woollen shawl, black bowler-type hat, gingham skirt, cotton bloomers with coins in the pocket and felt shoes. She also wore glasses on a chain but these are often missing. Aunt Lucy was produced in smaller numbers than Paddington which means she tends to be of higher value.

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Gabrielle Designs Bear Identification

  • Paddington was made of long pile cream acrylic plush, was unjointed with black plastic nose and amber plastic eyes.
  • Early Paddington Bears wore boots made by Dunlop, those made in 1980's wore boots with a paw and PB embossed on the sole.
  • Very early Gabrielle Paddington bears (those made in early - mid 1970's) had straight legs (stump legs)
  • Early Paddington bears were made wearing a variety of different coloured felt coats with four buttons, floppy hats and boots. Some colours were more popular so in later years combinations of red, blue, black and yellow were used. Modern garments are sometimes used to refurbish Paddington bears - original Gabrielle garments are made of thick felt.
  • The common item on all Paddington's was the card label, usually attached to a toggle on the duffle coat, which read: "Please Look After This Bear. Thank You"
  • A satin label reading Gabrielle Designs and design number is stitched to the back of the neck

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