Sunday, November 30, 2014

Collectible Vintage Teddy Bears - Clemens & Baki Germany

Clemens Spieltiere & Baumann & Kienel (Baki) Germany - Collectible Teddy Bears

Clemens Spieltiere was founded by Hans Clemens in 1947. An entrepreneur who started in the gift and plush business later in life shortly after WWII when he was well into his 40s. He started by making teddy bears from war blankets purchased from the English Army to stock his Porcelain and China Gift Shop in Mannheim Germany. As early as 1949 his stuffed plush animals and bears had paper pendant labels showing Clemens and his logo.

Clemens Germany Zotty Teddy Bear

Likely a Clemens Teddy Bear, c1950s to 60s, no ID, fully jointed made from Dralon Plush with Glass eyes.

Clemens Mohair Squirrel

A Clemens mohair plush red squirrel with his original swing tag.

Clemens Swing Tag with Logo

A Clemens swing tag, c1960s.

Hans Clemens presented his plush animals at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in Germany in 1952 and the first printed ads for Clemens plush appeared in 1948.

Hans Clemens retired in 1983, the firm turned over to descendants to run.

A wonderful collaboration occurred in 2004. The designers Jack and Marion Finhold, famous in their own right for producing unique artist teddy bears and miniatures since 1976, began designing exclusively for Clemens.

Clemens Mohair Plush Mouse
Designers Jack & Marion Finhold

Fully jointed, mohair fur plush bears and other animals were designed by the Finholds exclusively for Clemens beginning in 2004.

Clemens Mohair Plush Bear
Exclusively designed with Love by Jack & Marion Finhold

Clemens Camel Mohair Plush with harness

Hans Clemens' Porcelain & China Gift Shop remained opened until 1968. Plush animals continue to be produced by Clemens Spieltiere in Germany.

Baumann & Kienel (Baki) Germany, was founded in 1951 by Franz Baumann in Flensburg Germany. He began in 1946 with teddy bears made from war blankets purchased from the English Army, and he took his bears to show at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1949. In 1951 he collaborated with a childhood friend, Franz Kienel to form Baumann & Kienel, first trademarked as Baumki and later changed to Baki. In 1954 the factory was moved to Rodach. Franz Baumann was grandson to Johann Hermann, of the Hermann Teddy Bear dynasty.

Baki Germany Dachshund Dog

Baki plastic button logo

An early Baki Germany Mohair Plush Dachshund Dog with red plastic chest ID button. c1950s. 

Baki Plush Marmot Groundhog
Baki Foil Paper Swing Tag

A later Baki plush animal. A marmot or groundhog with the Baki foil paper label swing tag. Baki Pluschtiere, the foil paper swing tag used c1960s to 80s.

Both Clemens and Baki are lesser known German maker's in the collecting genre. Happy Hunting!

Items shown can be adopted at Mandicrafts.

P.S.  Sorry for the long absence over the summer. I have been going through cancer treatments, both chemo and radiation, and have just completed that journey. I now have just anti body treatments which will continue for another few months. All is preventative, after having the cancer excised earlier this year. Strangely, treatments created a sort of writing block so I was unable to come up with any blog posts! Hopefully, I will now be able to continue more regular posts once again. Thank you for your patience.

Bear Hugs


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Collectible or Cherished Memory? Preserving Traditions, Recovering Old Friends & Feel Good Moments

Treasure Hunting Can Recover Cherished Old Friends, Preserve Family Traditions, and bring Good Old-Fashioned Feel-Good Moments

Collector's are not the only ones seeking vintage treasures. Sometimes what is sought is more than a piece missing from a comprehensive set or collection of items; it is a long lost old friend.

Vintage Steiff Animals

Steiff Germany has been creating mohair teddies, animals and toys for more than 110 years. Originally created to charm young ones, Steiff plush has become one of the most popular toy brands to collect, with some of the rarer pieces garnering astronomical prices in auctions all over the world. But what if you are not a collector? What if you once had a cherished furry friend that brought you joy and comfort throughout your childhood and continues to represent those memories and strengths into your adulthood and this friend is suddenly lost or is damaged beyond restoration?

Steiff Best Friends

Meet Steiff Wittie Owl, known to his best friend as Wol.

Steiff Wittie Owl
The story of Wol came to me from his Professor of Geology best friend and is retold with special permission (name withheld).

"I just received the vintage Steiff Wittie Owl I recently purchased from you. He's great! I thought I'd drop you a note to tell you a bit of background about him because he replaces a life-long friend.

My Dad was an American fighter pilot and was gone much of my childhood (I was an only child). I was 4 when we lived in Montreal Canada (1954) and my Mom took me to a department store to choose a stuffed animal for my birthday. I had many (and only) Steiff animals including squirrel, rabbit, turtle, alligator, bear, but the owl totally captured my fancy because he had radium in his eyes which glowed in the dark if placed near a light bulb for a few minutes. (So does the one I bought from you). The first week I had him, I put him on top of the light bulb of my bedside lamp and burned his face off :-(  I cried so hard that I had hurt my friend that my Mom quickly bought me another.

Wol (I couldn't say "Owl") went to bed with me every night; with his glowing eyes he was quite a comfort. We ate meals together (he was particularly fond of peanut butter and honey). By second grade we moved to Michigan where he accompanied me every day to school, fitting perfectly into the ink well of my desk. There was a gang of kids who used to pick on me (I was really tiny). One time they beat me up pretty hard and left me lying in the snow, red with blood from a split lip and nose.  I remember putting my hand in my pocket and, when I felt Wol, I stopped crying, got up, and walked home holding him tightly.

By 8th grade through high school I had outgrown Wol, but he still had a perch on my bookshelf. When I went away to college, I guess I needed a friend, and he came with me. And has been ever since. I'm now 64 years old and, and as a professional geologist, have traveled around most of South America, western US, Thailand, Alaska, and ocean-going research vessels. Wol has accompanied me on all these trips.  When I was teaching field geology at the University, I'd put him in the pocket of my field vest, looking out at my students, who were never too sure what to say when they first noticed him. But he quickly became quite popular, and over 25 years, has posed for many students' photos. Several ex-girlfriends with whom I am still in touch, always ask about him in their Christmas cards to me. I figured we'd be buried together--after all, he is my oldest friend.

Last month I was on a 2-week camping trip to southern Utah and of course, Wol went along. He usually rode on the dashboard of my 4WD, but because it was particularly hot, this time, he had a nest in my hat between the seats where he was last seen. I re-traced my steps, and went back to the last three campsites (all very remote), and hiked for over two hours on one road to access to a site whose vehicle access had been closed. All to no avail. I hope that Wol is enjoying himself wherever he is, and is not afraid of being alone. Upon my return, I was missing him more than I had ever thought. My girlfriend suggested that I could buy "another" from Steiff, but when I saw the present offerings, there was no comparison. Not even close. I then Googled "vintage Steiff stuffed owl" and fortunately I found you. The new Wol you sold me is identical to the old (except for the latter's love-worn bald spots and dirty feet) and assures me that he is more than willing to carry on the tradition of companion to the end ("Woooo whooh, ooooo, ooooo hoooow") with lots of PB&J in beautiful and exotic places. So thanks again. Know that he is loved and will have a great life."

Steiff Mecki Hedgehog Doll
Meet Steiff Mecki Hedgehog Doll.

A fabulous childhood memory brought to life again as a modern-day gift.

"Thank you SO MUCH for accepting my offer. This Steiff will mean so much to my sister for her birthday (my dad brought these back from Germany many many years ago when we were kids and I've had a hard time finding one). Looking forward to Mecki!
Thank you again.

Steiff Pieps Mouse Grey

Meet Steiff Pieps Mouse.

A lovely lady in Avignon France loves her display of ONLY Pieps Mouse toys and sends photos of her friends from time to time.

"Pieps made it safely to his new home about a week ago now ... and is having a lot of fun with his new friends... dancing, singing, eating loads of cookies and drinking gallons of white tea! So cute, don't you think?"

Pieps in a Bowl

House of Pieps

Binkley Toys Ltd is a Canadian Brand of Modern Plush, located in Hamilton, Ontario specializing in designing and producing plush for corporations, retailers and special events.   

Binkley Canada Teddy Bear

Binkley Canada Graduation Bear
Meet Binky, the teddy on the left wearing a plaid scarf.

This Binky is on his way to meet the "original" Binky!

"My daughter has a Binkley Bear very similar to this blonde Bear. Her's, however, has been loved by her for over 23 years and it is flat and scruffy but she has cherished and loved it and slept with it her whole life.  Two weeks ago she got married and moved to Alberta. All her stuff was moved there. This morning I woke up to a message from her that she can't find her Binky (which is what she has called her bear all her life). After she moved, I found her bear and it is being sent out to her but I thought I would look for a new one so she could have it for her new place. I'm not a big on-line shopper but I thought I would give it a try and there it was, your bear! Of course it isn't her Binky but I think she will tear up a bit when she opens it."

Russ Berrie Plush Stuffed Animals

Russ Berrie Fifi Plush Poodle
Russ Berrie produces modern plush. Cuddly items for children to tell their secrets to.

Meet Russ Berrie's Fifi the Poodle.

"We had a similar poodle which is my 2 1/2 year old's favorite security toy. I stupidly put it in the wash and killed it! Its been a very sad household without Pood. We are so looking forward to receiving Pood's cousin in the mail soon. Thanks so much".

Isn't this what Treasure Hunting is all about?

Missing your long-lost furry friend? Browse through Mandicrafts and you just may find him!

Happy Hunting!

Bear Hugs

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