chad valley teddy bear
chad valley teddy bear
 
chad valley teddy bear
 
chad valley teddy bear
 
chad valley teddy bear
 
chad valley teddy bear
 

4. Chad Valley Teddy Bear


'Circa mid-1950's'

A vintage Chad Valley 19" Teddy Bear. Lovely face. Great vintage condition. Foot Label shows vague "Royal Warrant". Back label shows vague "Hygienic Toys & Made in England" See photos. In desperate need of a new home and some tender loving care. Circa mid 1950's

The Chad Valley teddy bear was born in Harborne in 1915, along with other British teddy bears such as Chiltern, spurred on by the shortage of the toys coming from Germany. Early Chad Valley teddy bears had large amber and black eyes, flat ears placed on the sides of their heads, shaved muzzles with triangular noses stitched lengthwise (until 1938), stitched claws on their paws and feet, and were jointed. They were stuffed with kapok, which became in short supply during World War I resulting in Chad Valley bears being stuffed with cork instead.


Condition: Good vintage condition. No apparent repairs.

Dimensions: 19"

Provenance: Ex. collection Hampshire, UK.

£45.00

Chad Valley Bears

Chad Valley’s bears could not have had a more inauspicious beginning than in a stationers and printing company, founded in Birmingham, England in 1820 by Anthony Johnson. The Chad Valley trademark was born in 1897 when Johnson, along with one of his sons Alfred, opened a new factory in the nearby village of Harborne; it was named after the Chad River that ran through the village. The company grew over the years and eventually expanded into the toy market with printed board games. The expansion was also helped, in part, by the British ban on German imports, including teddy bears and other soft toys, during World War I.

The Chad Valley teddy bear was born in Harborne in 1915, along with other British teddy bears such as Chiltern, spurred on by the shortage of the toys coming from Germany. Early Chad Valley teddy bears had large amber and black eyes, flat ears placed on the sides of their heads, shaved muzzles with triangular noses stitched lengthwise (until 1938), stitched claws on their paws and feet, and were jointed. They were stuffed with kapok, which became in short supply during World War I resulting in Chad Valley bears being stuffed with cork instead.

Chad Valley somehow managed to continue to make teddy bears during the war years. Once the war was over, the company expanded and opened its soft toys facility in Wellington, Shropshire. Initially called the Wrekin Toy Works, it was later named Chad Valley Co., Ltd. Chad Valley was one of the more successful toy companies in the years between the world wars. It carefully expanded both internally and through the purchase of five other toy makers. In 1923 Chad Valley bought Isaacs & Co. In 1928 they enlarged the Harborne factory, and in 1931 they expanded again with the purchase of the London firm of Peacock & Co., Ltd., and went on to produce teddy bears in Harborne under the Peacock label, which, however, was discontinued after World War II. The Magna Series bear was begun some time around 1930. It was a popular bear with distinctive horizontal stitching for its nose, a furry muzzle and no stitched claws on either its paws or feet. Chad Valley bears in the 1920’s and ‘30’s had shorter limbs, a less prominent hump to their backs, and were cuddlier. They came in fourteen different sizes with either kapok or wood-wool stuffing. Both the quality and texture of the fur could be varied, as could the color. Some of their teddy bears were also made from artificial silk plush. They even made a blue bear. The 1930’s also saw the arrival of the very popular Cubby Bear series. Cubby bears had high foreheads, short arms and long legs, and came in tones of brown. Cubby bears remained popular into the 1950’s.

Chad Valley teddy bears were favored by the British royal family, and in 1938 the company was awarded a royal warrant as “Toymakers to H.M. the Queen.” The warrant was changed to “Toymakers to H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother” after the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1952. During World War II Chad Valley, unlike many other British toy companies, did not completely stop making teddy bears, although they did contribute to the war effort by making such items as children’s clothes in their Shropshire plant. Chad Valley teddies from this period were generally made with white fleece since mohair was difficult to obtain. They were also thinner with shorter arms and legs since stuffing was hard to come by, and they had black pads on their feet. By 1934 Chad Valley had already made their first venture into the world of storybook bears when they made Winnie-the-Pooh bears and other A.A. Milne characters from Milne’s books. They were the first to produce radio and TV bears beginning with a Sooty bear hand glove puppet for Corbeth Harry’s TV show in 1952, followed by the popular Toffee teddy bear from the BBC radio show “Listen with Mother” in the 1950’s into the ‘60’s. The original Toffee bear wore a red knitted hat and a scarf. By 1960 Chad Valley had seven factories and employed over 1,000 people. It went on to purchase Chiltern Toys in 1967, thus becoming the largest soft toy manufacturer in England.

The recession of the 1970’s, however, hit Chad Valley hard. The company closed plants and laid people off, until it was down to two factories in 1975. Then came more changes in the form of takeovers: first by Palitoy in 1978, then US-owned Kenner Parker; Woolworth bought the Chad Valley trademark in 1988 and introduced new teddy bears made in East Asia, followed by Home Retail Group buying the brand in 2009, and then finally by Sainsbury’s who bought Home Retail Group, and the Chad Valley brand, in 2016. Chad Valley bears are now distributed through Argos, a division of Sainsbury’s. It’s nice to know the venerable teddies live on.


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