I am a bear collector as well as a bear maker. The bears I design myself are contemporary with realistic detail. The bears I collect are mostly vintage and antique.
A few years ago I purchased an early American bear from a woman. The bear was her grandfather's. She said the bear was made in the late 1910's to early 20's. There were no identifying marks on the bear.
He was a very sweet faced bear, and I loved him. He sat with me on my desk, and one day I thought I would clean him up, and fix his tears and falling off ears. I overestimated the strength of his mohair, and I was not gentle enough. He fell apart in my hands. First I cried, then I took him and hid him away. Finally I took him out of hiding, carefully took him apart stitch by stitch and made a pattern of him.
So these little bears are not one of a kind, they were made by the thousands in the early part of the twentieth century. These are an exact copy of the bear. I have not altered the pattern. They have short arms, with long pawpads, longish legs with small feet, and large ears. Even though they are all the same pattern they each have their own personality and they are not alike.
Each bear is made of mohair, with wool felt pawpads like the original. They are five way jointed, using disks and hardware. They are filled completely with wood wool (excelsior) like the original. I then pluck and shade the bears to gently age them. Not too much, because for me that is where all the trouble began.