Seems like a perfectly good heading to me - when you consider that this issue "hit the streets" on April first - which happens to be APRIL FOOL'S DAY!
OK, so the guys are not actually taking over the teddy bear world, but we are definitely a good part of it. A lady who was viewing the video from one of bright Star Promotion's shows commented that she was surprised to see so many men at the show. Looking, buying and making bears.
This seemed like a good subject to do a story about, so I sat down and started typing.
If we are going to recognize contributions men have made, we have to start with the man who is credited with inventing the teddy bear; Richard Steiff, nephew of the famous Margarete Steiff.
She was the originator of the German firm, but it was actually Richard's drawing of bears he admired at the zoo that led to our favorite companion. The company continues to be the leader in the production of teddy bears to this day.
A gentleman who we met early in our involvement with teddy bears created a line of miniature teddy bears under the label Little Gem Bears. His name is Chu Ming Wu, known to everyone as "Jamie." We had the good fortune of being next to Jamie at the Toledo Teddy Bear shows, and it was always amazing to watch him actually sign each bear on the foot - bears that were in the 2 and 3 inch size range, which does not leave a lot of room for a signature on the foot pad!
His work eventually attracted the attention of Walt Disney World, where Jamie produced some special editions for them.
Everyone recognizes that Beverly Port was the sparkplug behind the creation of the first Artist-made teddy bears, but we have to include the contributions made by her son John Paul Port.
He actually made his first bear in 1976 and has been at the forefront of our hobby since that time.
John has shared some wonderful stories about his adventures in chasing down antique teddies and has always been a popular speaker at teddy bear events throughout the country.
When we consider contributions men have made, we have to recognize the unique wood face teddy bears created by Robert Raikes.
Robert has a long history of wood carving, creating everything from furniture to carrousel horses.
In the 1970s he produced some interesting doll designs, but when teddy bears became popular in the 1980s, Raikes was quick to "carve out" a special niche in this market, eventually doing a series of designs for Applause.
The Raikes company eventually involved his entire family.
There have been a number of designers who gained recognition in the doll world, then turned their talents to our teddy bear world. Few have earned the accolades that have been given to R. John Wright.
John and and his wife Susan have created some special teddies that are always in high demand, including some truly great examples of Disney characters such as Winnie-the-Pooh.
John continues to have a huge following in both the doll and teddy bear world.
Some outstanding teddy bear artists have come to us from Great Britain, and such is the case with Gregory Gyllenship.
His work is in high demand here and abroad, due in large part to the fact that his bears "speak to you" with that look that you simply cannot resist.
Gregory has been a collector of antique and contemporary bears for much of his life, so the progression to designer and maker was a natural step.
I am sure there are many other men who could be included in this essay, but we would be remiss if we did not recognize the contributions that have been made to the hobby by both Ken Yenke and his lovely wife Brenda.
Both are long time collectors of antique teddies and this team has always shared their knowledge and expertise at countless shows and appearances.
Ken has authored several outstanding books on the subject and is a feature attraction at many of the Bright Star teddy bear shows, doing appraisals and sharing his vast knowledge about his favorite subject, "the most endearing toy ever made", to quote from one of his books.
Little girls always had a doll they could spend their childhood with, but when the teddy bear came along, it was adopted as a special friend primarily to boys. It was not considered "proper" for a young lad to have a doll, but it was "macho" to have a teddy. But don't worry, ladies … we are perfectly willing to share that special bond with you.
Terry & Doris Michaud
Members since March 2009
Antique teddy bear experts Ken and Brenda Yenke. Ken is the curator of the Chelsea Teddy Bear Museum in Michigan.
Margarete Steiff's nephew Richard's sketches inspired the creation of the teddy bear.
Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh by R. John Wright.
Robert Raikes teddies are easy to recognize with their distinctive wood face.
A 22 inch bear named Walton by British artist Gregory Gyllenship.
A Little Gem 2 inch miniature named "Candy Corn".
John Paul Port - designer, teddy artist, author and lecturer.
The teddy bear world got a major boost when Ben and Beth Savino created their annual Toledo Teddy Bear shows. Anyone and everyone in the bear world, literally from around the world was in attendance at this fall show. It ran for 3 days and we had the privilege of exhibiting at the show. While the show is no longer operating, the Savino's remain very active in the bear world, offering their line of quality Steiff bears and other goods at shows here and abroad. This tribute was written to salute the men in the bear world, but the Savino's come as a pair; you get two for the price of one! Great people to know both personally and professionally.