How Much Is MY Antique Bear Worth?
We are frequently asked to identify and value antique
teddy bears (sorry, it's a service we no longer provide due to the
very large number of requests): sometimes it is for insurance purposes
but often it is because the owner is curious. There is rarely a
quick answer as it depends .............
Condition is very important. Teddy bears, through
their very purpose, were often played with by children and therefore
shows signs of wear and tear. Many problems (worn pads, new eyes,
joints) can easily be repaired by an expert but some (torn mohair,
dry rot) are more difficult to remedy. A bear whose mohair is thinning
or is bald can be clothed to make him more appealing and a suit
of clothes will also offer him some protection for the future. See
our range of teddy bear clothes here. A bear with all his original
features will be much more appealing to a collector and therefore
more valuable. A badly worn bear can be worth up to only 75% of
the value of a bear in mint condition.
The manufacturer does play an important part. Steiff
bears are highly sought after and usually fetch the highest price
at auction - see a list of some of
the most expensive bears in the world here. Other German manufacturers
such as Bing are also highly collectable. Farnell bears are probably
the most expensive British bears but demand for Chad Valley, Chiltern
and older Deans and Merrythought bears is increasing - this increases
Labels, Buttons and Tags
Forms of identification were often removed by caring
parents. However, apart from assisting with identification, the
mere fact the bear is more complete improves it's value - especially
the famous Steiff button in ear. The absence of that famous button
can reduce the value by around 25%. Aside from attached labels,
buttons, swing tags and certificates a bear may have it's original
box, a box in good condition can add up to 10% to the price.
Collectors who are short of space opt to collect miniature
bears, such as those by Schuco or Farnell soldier bears but generally
larger bears are more expensive. In some reference books you may
even find the author providing prices per inch for bears.
Generally speaking the older the bear, the more it
is worth. Those manufactured before WWI are particularly valuable.
However, even those made in the 1950's and 1960's are now increasing
in value as parents and grandparents buy them as investments for
A bear produced in limited numbers may now be in demand
purely because of that rarity. One example is Sussenguth's Peter
bear which was produced in 1925 but didn't sell as it, with open
mouth and bearing it's teeth, frightened children.
Most bears were made of light brown, blonde or gold
mohair so a premium is now paid for unusual colours such as cinnamon,
apricot, black. From the 1930's red, blue, purple, green, purple
or orange mohair were used and those too are now popular with some
Few bears are obtained from their original owner but
if there is any documentary evidence relating to it's ownership,
which may also assist in dating the bear, it is valuable. Appropriate
"tangible" evidence in the form of receipts,
old catalogues, photographs associated with the bear are highly
prized by collectors and can add considerably to it's value.
The most subjective attribute for beauty is in the
eye of the beholder. It is fortunate we don't all have the same
tastes BUT a bear with an appealing face will be worth more e.g.
Steiff "Happy" £55,000 had a charming expression.
It is generally accepted by collectors that growlers
frequently cease to function relatively early on and this does not
have a big impact on their value. However, bears with working musical
boxes, the ability to tumble or somersault or other mechanical ability
such as Schuco yes/no bears are very popular and can command a premium.
much was that teddy bear at the auction?
Here is a list of some of the most expensive bears
in the world, ALL are Steiff bears. These bears appealed to the
bidders for various reasons but it is interesting to note that the
current title holder of most valuable teddy bear was manufactured
Year of Manufacture
|Alfonzo: red Steiff owned by Princess Xenia. Read
Alfonzo's story here
|Elliot: 32cm blue Steiff bear
|Happy: 65cm dual plush bear whose looks seduced Paul &
|Harlequin: multi-coloured bear, originally given to a Steiff
Steiff Festival Geingen
|Bar 28PB: 40cm, the oldest known Steiff bear
|Titanic Bear: black mourning bear made after the sinking of
|Happy: 40cm dual plush bear
Steiff Festival Geingen
|Teddy Girl: 46cm brown bear that served alongside Colonel
Bob Henderson in the war
||£110,000 to be confirmed
||5 Dec 1994
|Louis Vuitton: one of a small limited edition of bears dressed
in designer clothing and auctioned for charity
Teddies de l'ann Monaco