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A History Of The Teddy Bear
The Boyds Collection Ltd Company History

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Teddy Bear History > Boyds


Beginning as a small antique shop in rural Boyds, Maryland way back in the disco and bell-bottom days of 1979, The Boyds Collection Ltd.® has been making folks laugh and sigh for over 25 years!

Today, they are a small bunch of slightly off-centre, fun folks working hard not far from where they began, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to bring you whimsically unique teddy bears, floppy-eared hares and other friends in the true, old-world teddy bear making tradition.

gary lowenthalBoyds' founder, G M Lowenthal, chairman emeritus and "Head Bean" was the son of a German Immigrant, was born in New York City in 1949.

He attended Alfred University in upstate New York to earn his BSc and an MS in Biology. Being a self-described "true Child of the Sixties" G.M. then joined the U.S. Peace Corps and "split" for the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific, where he did his part for world peace.

Then he returned to New York to embark upon a seven-year career at that Mecca of Merchandising, Bloomingdale's where he worked in purchasing, designing, and merchandising, which exposed him to some of the fashion industry's top Clothing Designers. 

In 1979, G.M. moved to rural Boyds, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. to open an antiques shop which was the beginning of The Boyds Collection Ltd.®

The Boyds Collection Ltd.® began as an antiques shop in the home of G.M. Lowenthal and his partner (now wife), Justina Unger.

Their love of antiques outweighed their ability to purchase many of the rare items, so the team shifted its focus.

Instead of the "true antiques," G.M. and Tina began to seek out and sell "Antique Reproductions," with the look and feel of true antiques at more affordable prices.

This retail venture proved to be so successful that by 1982 they began to wholesale some of these top-selling antique reproductions to other stores.

Some of their most successful wholesale items were Antique Reproduction Duck Decoys that ranged from a 9" stained teal to a giant 3' Whistling Swan

The wholesale part of The Boyds Collection began to flourish as G.M. designed, painted, antiqued, boxed and sold the decoys.

Tina handled the customer service, billing, shipping, and accounting aspects of their business.

G.M. added a new line when he found a group of 100% Merino Wool Bears from China.

In 1984 G.M. designed a 12" fully jointed wool bear and named it after his latest "joint venture" with Tina - their new born son, Matthew.

Also in 1984, G.M., tired of painting 20,000 duck decoys until 3 am, turned to resin sculpting to produce "The Gnomes Homes," extremely detailed miniature houses based on American architecture and his own fertile imagination.

The company expanded from its home into an 1880s-era Sunday School building down the street and the Lowenthals added a secretary and a warehouse man.

They continued to wholesale duck decoys, wool teddy bears, Gnomes Homes, and some antique-style brassware.

In 1987, G.M. and Tina relocated the firm to the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania area and the company continued to grow.

In 1993, Boyds released its first series of resin figurines, The Bearstone Collection®, and followed that up with Folkstones®, Dollstones™, and a host of other wacky resin characters, villages, dolls, pottery, treasure boxes and nifty home décor.

It was always Gary’s dream to open a flagship store - a magical place where Boyds bears, hares, and friends could live and play! His dream came true in early 2002, when the Folks at Boyds broke ground and began construction of Boyds Bear Country™.

The Boyds Collection Ltd.® has continued to grow by leaps and bounds over the years.

As G.M. Lowenthal says, "We're a lot bigger than when we were a 'mom and pop' shop, but, for better or worse, we still run it like a 'mom and pop' shop, only on steroids. We are still a little disorganised and a little off-centre and slightly eccentric, just like our bears!"

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Alphabetical Listings...
Wendy Boston
John W Bratton
Chad Valley 
Janet Changfoot
Deans Rag Book Company
Grisly Speilwaren 
Gund The American giant 
Hermann, Hermann Speilwaren, Gebruder Hermann, Hermann Teddy Original 
Jimmy Kennedy who wrote the words to the song Teddy Bears’ Picnic
Teddy Bears’ Picnic music by John W Bratton and the lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy

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