A newspaper cartoon about the incident inspired a Brooklyn couple to offer handmade "Teddy" bears for less than a buck. Business boomed, and the Ideal Toy Company was formed. (These early Ideal bears sell for thousands of dollars each today.)
Find out about other collectibles described by The Saturday Early Show's Tony Hyman in the Collectibles Archive or visit Tony Hyman's Web site.
If you think you have a collectible worth a lot of cash, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "What's It Worth?" in the subject line. Or write to "What's It Worth?" The Saturday Early Show, 514 West 57th St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10019.
Like other early bears, the $3,000 Steiff from 1905 has eyes made of shoe buttons. Another Steiff made 20 years later has eyes made of glass, and it is half the value of its 1905 brother.
From the '30s, you'll start seeing a rainbow of bears: blue, green, even pink. But early bears are usually seen in more animal-like colors (tans, browns, yellows, rust). Early black Teddy bears are very rare and could put $20,000 or more in your pocket.
The most common are 12-inch bears, because they were affordable and a practical size for a young boy or girl. So today's collectors pay even more for large early bears.
Bears are rarely identified by maker, so if you think your bear was made before 1950, get expert advice, as even well-loved (well-worn) bears may have value.
Information on Teddy bears courtesy of 20-year veteran bear collector Polly Zarneski, who is happy to buy, sell, appraise and otherwise have fun with bears. If you have a family bear you wish to sell or preserve, you may call her at (509) 327-7622, or write to her at 5803 North Fleming, Spokane, Wash., 99205.
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