Farnell Bear Identification
I.D. Elements - General
Early Farnell bears can be confused with Steiff bears due to the pronounced shaved muzzle, humped back, long tapering arms with upward curved, spoon-shaped paws and large feet.
In the 1920's: the muzzle was left unshaven and the webbed claws, on the larger bears, disappeared.
Larger Farnell bears, made before 1930's, often had five long webbed paw stitches.
The Alpac range, was introduced circa 1935 for babies and was made from alpaca.
Farnell made a number of musical bears and in the late 1930's introduced a range with a Swiss Thorens "stop and go" musical movements.
In the 1950's, due to the cost of materials, the body became less portly, the limbs shorter and the feet smaller.
A 1920’s Farnell Bear
A Farnell bear dating from the 1930's, standing 20 inches tall. It is made from long soft golden mohair and has amber and black glass eyes and felt pads.
One of the most famous Farnell bears is Toffee, a character from the BBC's Listen With Mother program. Toffee was made in 1960, he was 25cm tall and made from gold mohair. He had a flat muzzle and large bulbous forehead characteristic of Toffee. He was dressed in a red woollen hat and scarf. Note: Farnell's Toffee can be easily confused with the Chad Valley version which was made in 1953.
Eyes: small, early bears had black button eyes, larger bears tended to have glass eyes which were painted brown on the backs - although that paint usually wears away to leave clear eyes.
Nose: vertical stitching in a wide rectangular shape, elongated outer stitches extended upwards. In the 1930's the shape became more square without the elongated outer stitches.
A round card swing tag, attached to the chest, reading "Alpha Make" was introduced in 1925.
In 1926 a white and blue embroidered label was fixed to the foot, this was used until 1945.
After the war a satin label, with "Alpha" in a shield was used.
During the 1960's another satin-like label, using the blue and red colours was used but it read "This is a Farnell Quality Soft Toy; Made in Hastings, England" without any graphics. The original Alpha trade name was dropped. These labels were often placed in a side seam.