Monday, April 22, 2013

Dean's Rag Book/Childsplay & Gwentoys Ltd UK Collectible Teddy Bears

Dean's Rag Book Co Ltd, Pontypool UK & Gwentoys Ltd, UK - Collectible Teddy Bears


Dean's Rag Book Co Ltd was founded in London, England in 1903 by Henry Samuel Dean. In 1908 the Knockabout Teddy Bear (parts printed on fabric, to cut out & stitch together) and the Teddy Bear Ragbook was introduced (cloth story book). The first catalogued Teddy Bears were sold under the name Kuddlemee for the British Novelty Works Co, a subsidiary, in 1915. In 1916 fire destroyed early products but copies of patterns were stored elsewhere. In 1922 the first Teddy Bears with the Dean's Logo were produced and the tradename "A1 Toy" was registered.  The Dean's Logo was two dogs fighting, a terrier and a bulldog, each trying to tear apart a ragbook, intended to show how indestructible their child's cloth ragbook product was!

Childsplay Toys (by Dean's Ragbook Co) Teddy Bear
Dean's "Fighting Dogs" logo (side 2)
Label style dates this teddy between 1956 to 1964.
Dean's "Fighting Dogs" logo (side 1)
Dean's used mohair plush for their Teddy Bears, and either felt or velveteen for the paw pads. Noses were stitched vertically, although some bears found have noses made from gutta percha (an inelastic natural tree resin, hand molded), or casted rubber.

Due to WWII material shortages, Dean's began using "Art Silk" (artificial silk plush) in place of mohair for Teddy Bear production beginning in 1931, which lasted through 1937. In 1936 Dean's built a factory in Merton, Southwest London. In the late 1940s Dean's issued their first catalogue since the start of WWII.  The Merton factory was sold in 1955 to reduce costs, and Dean's moved production to Rye, Sussex in 1956 and created a subsidiary called "Childsplay Toys" to manufacture soft toys (the label shown above).

Dean's Childsplay Toys Ltd Teddy Bear

Golden Mohair Plush Teddy Bear with brown velveteen pads by Deans Childsplay Toys, label style dates the bear to between 1982 to 1986.
Deans Childsplay Toys Label

In 1965 the subsidiary company name changed to Deans Childsplay Toys Ltd.

In 1972 Dean's Childsplay merged with Gwentoys Ltd, a company founded in Pontypool South Wales and became Deans/Gwentoys Group. Gwentoys was founded in 1965 by three former managers of the Chiltern factory in Pontypool, manufacturing toys for the wholesale trade.

Gwentoys Ltd Mohair Teddy Bear

Gwentoys Ltd Seam Label
Gwentoys Mohair Teddy Bear, easy to date, between 1965 - 1971.

In 1974 some of Dean's production moved to Pontypool, and by 1980 all Dean's production was moved and the Rye, Sussex Factory closed. 

Plush Koala by Dean's/Gwentoy Group.

The Dean's/Gwentoy Group Seam Label.

Plush Koala Bear with plastic claws and nose by The Dean's/Gwentoy Group. Label style dates the koala between 1972 to 1982.

In 1986 the import company Plaintalk took over the company and the name changed once again, to The Dean's Company (1903) Ltd.

The firm went into voluntary liquidation in 1988 and Neil Miller, who had joined the firm in 1987 as Managing Director, achieved a management buy out and purchased the trading rights to Dean's name and logo. In 1990 he also purchased the original company, Dean's Ragbook Company Ltd.

Dean's enters the Collector's market in 1991, producing replica Teddy Bears using the old original patterns and the Dean's Rag Book trademark and label. The company name comes full circle!  The Dean's Collector's Club launched in 1994. The collectible bear range is issued in Limited Editions, usually made from mohair plush with felt pads, some bears dressed and most named.

Replica Teddy Bear with "new" Dean's Logo Label.
Fighting Dogs Logo on Dean's Rag Book Foot Label

Limited Edition Collector Teddy Bear "Kris Kringle", issue #63 (shown on side seam label), and with resurrected/recreated Dean's Rag Book fighting dogs logo label sewn on one foot pad.  Bear is fully jointed and made in Great Britain (the UK).

Dean's Rag Book is still in production today!
Fighting Dogs Logo on Seam label, also showing Limited Edition Number

Some items featured here are available at MANDICRAFTS!

Happy Hunting

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