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Company History

Date Event
circa 1850 The Company was established, in New York, making educational toys. The name "Knickerbocker" was derived from the nickname given to Dutch settlers in New York who tended to wear the puffed knickerbocker trousers.
1920 Began manufacturing teddy bears and other soft toys. Permanent labels were introduced.
1950's "Joy Of A Toy" trademark registered
1984 Became bankrupt and ceased trading
1990 Another family, also named Knickerbocker, began trading as Knickerbocker Bear Company


Knickerbocker Bears

Knickerbocker made a key wind musical bear in the late 1930's

In 1955 an unusual vinyl-faced bear was produced. It had a painted face, often with pouting mouth, it was unjointed and made of synthetic plush - often known as a "pouting bear".

Smokey bear was first introduced in 1944 as a symbol of the US Forest Prevention Campaign - he was named after Smokey Joe Martin, a famous New York firefighter. Knickerbocker regained the license to produce Smokey in 1968, he became very popular and was made until 1977. There are collectors who specialise in Smokey and are able to identify the exact year of manufacture based on the outfit Smokey wears.

Late 1920's Knickerbocker Bear with metal nose
Late 1920's Knickerbocker teddy bear

Visit our Vintage Bears where, depending upon availability, you may see more Knickerbocker teddy bears


Knickerbocker Bear Identification

  • Early bears had:-
    • Large, broad head - triangular shaped with short/flat muzzle
    • Arms set low on the shoulders
    • No hump
    • No claws
    • Large round ears
    • Thin bodies
  • In the late 1920's, for a short period of time, a moulded metal nose was used
  • From 1940's bears were not so thin and a label was usually sewn into front or, less often, the side seam showing "Animals of Distinction" on one side and "Knickerbocker Toy Co. New York" on the other side
  • Post World War II an inset muzzle, made of contrasting velveteen material, introduced
  • Early 1960's "spangled" eyes (lines radiating out from the iris)
  • Newer Knickerbocker bears tend to be made of plush and could be imported from the far east




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