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Make money collecting teddy bears

Marc Crosby 14th Mar 2020 8 Comments

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Do you love teddy bears?

Many people do. In fact they’re the world’s most popular toy.

How would you like to turn your teddy bear passion into a profit?

Well, remember: where there are collectors there is potential money to be made. And there are a lot of teddy bear collectors.

Can you believe that, for example, in 1994 a Steiff bear from 1905 sold for a record £110,000?!

Continue reading to find out how to make money collecting teddy bears.


How on Earth can you make money collecting teddy bears?

Brown teddy bear on blue background

Did you know the word ‘teddy’ was created in 1902 when an American newspaper had a cartoon of President Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a bear?

It’s easy to forget that the ‘teddy’ bear hasn’t always been a thing!

Most people will have been an owner of a teddy bear at some point. Although, chances are you can’t remember what became of your cuddly friend.

But, you might be wondering, can you really make money collecting teddy bears?

There are certain makes of vintage teddy bears out there that collectors will pay a huge amount for.

Popular brands to collect

Vintage brown bear

For example, Steiff bears, originating from Germany in the early 20th Century, can be hugely valuable. So can other German makes such as Bing, Gebruder Sussenguth and Schuco.

Popular British manufacturers include Chiltern, Dean’s, JK Farnell, Merrythought and Chad Valley.

Now is a good time to buy

Cream teddy bear

This is a good time to invest in vintage teddy bears according to Jasper Pearson,  from Sue Pearson Bears and Bygones in Sussex.

He says “Prices levelled out a few years ago with the recession and now they are steadily rising again.

“As most old bears have now been rescued from attics and cupboards as their popularity for collecting has rocketed over the last few decades, prices for the early and rare ones will only climb.”

This means that right now you can get a teddy bear reasonably cheap and then watch as its value rises.

And, according to Pearson, the kind of people who collect teddy bears is more diverse than you think.

“Teddy bears appeal to all sorts of people, men, women and children.

“We have one very discerning customer who is about 12 years old and saves all her money to buy vintage bears. She comes in to our shop two or three times a year and spends a long time looking at and holding all our old bears until she finds the one that ‘talks to her’.”

“Most of our customers buy bears because they love them and love being surrounded by them at home, often preferring a particular style or period of bear. So while many bear collectors are middle aged women, we also have many male collectors of all ages too.”

Sue Pearson Bears and Bygones have sold some particularly expensive bears in their time.

“We have sold a number of very rare Steiff bears for in excess of £30,000, the last being a particularly fine condition black Steiff from 1912 made for the English market only, in memory of those lost in the Titanic disaster.”


What should I be looking for in a teddy bear?

Vintage tan teddy bear

There are a few things you should think about when buying your collectable bear:

  • Buying a teddy is a bit like buying a painting – it’s something you can enjoy as it accumulates in value. So, unless you plan on hiding it away in an attic for years, you should buy a bear that appeals to you. Buy a bear you’d be happy to display.
  • Buy the best bear you can for the money you have to invest. It’s better to buy a really good condition bear from the 1950s than a really well loved and worn teddy from the 1920s. Remember, whilst collectors love a rare item, condition is very important – it has to be an item that the collector will enjoy.
  • For more expensive teddy bears, you should always get a record of provenance which outlines details of where the bear came from and who has owned it.
  • Bears for investment must always be in the best state, so make sure they have been expertly repaired and professionally cleaned. This is vital because a dirty bear can spread pests which, if introduced to a collection, can cause holes and tears.


Where should I buy and sell teddy bears?

Woman holding teddy bear

There’s a variety of places you could get a teddy bear from, including auctions both offline and online (like eBay.)

But if you’re not particularly knowledgeable or experienced in buying teddy bears then there is no substitute for buying from a reputable dealer.

Not only will you not be able to return the bear if you buy from an auction, a reputable dealer will also be able to offer advice on the best way to build your collection.

It’s also worth reading up on the subject online and in books even before you speak to dealers and specialist shop owners. There are MANY books on collecting teddy bears around. Amazon has a huge selection of books on this subject including ‘Collecting Teddy Bearsand ‘Teddy Bears Past and Present: A Collector’s Identification Guide.’


How much can I make selling teddy bears?

Brown Vintage Teddy Bear

Well, that’s the big question!

When posed to Joseph Pearson his reply was “It’s impossible to say – no-one knows where any antiques bought for investment will be in ten years time.”

So, like any form of investing in collectors’ items, there’s some risk involved. The best thing you can do is follow our advice on which bears to pick and make sure you thoroughly do your research before giving away your hard earned cash.

Conservatively you might make a few hundred pounds if you invest wisely. If you get lucky, of course, you could be making thousands of pounds, but don’t expect to make it quickly. You’re likely to have to wait a few years before selling to make a profit.


Have you ever considered collecting teddy bears? Maybe you have one you think might be worth a bit of money? Let us know in the comments section below – we love to hear from you.

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1 year ago

I have beautiful Steiff Vintage Bears dating 1920s and Special Edition Steiff Bears with certificates and boxes in my collection. Do you take them in? As I’m getting so old, I need to regime them. Nobody here appreciates Steiff Bears. 

Thank you

Terry Newton
Terry Newton
4 months ago
Reply to  Fran

Hello have you still got your bears

Ann Eiry Rochford
Ann Eiry Rochford
3 years ago

I have a full set of Harrods Christmas bears starting from 1986 and now I think I it’s time to stop! Would love them to go to a loving home! Many still have the tags on them. A

Patti Whiting
Patti Whiting
3 years ago

I have my teddy bear bought for me in !956 by my Grandad. I think it’s a Hugmee Chiltern. Is it valuable?

Albert W. Courcelle Jr.
Albert W. Courcelle Jr.
4 years ago

I have a 1987 Limited Edition 900 Series Teddy Bear authenticated by Peggy & ALan Bialosky. How much is it worth now?

8 years ago

I have a steiff Leo Lion that my parents bought for me in Singapore where I was born in 1956.
He has no button although I do have the little red tag and he is in good condition, glass eyes mohair mane etc.
I do have photos of me and Leo at a young age.
I would be interested where I could sell him for the best price as I have recently moved into a flat where space is in short supply!!

Karen Roissetter
Karen Roissetter
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeannette

Facebook has groups for people with Steiff, Charlie Bears, etc.

8 years ago

I have a lovely Chad valley bear that I bought from a charity shop it was being displayed in the window and straight away it caught my eye I paid £2.50 for it

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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