Dean’s Rag Book Co Ltd was founded in 1903 by Henry Samuel Dean and was an off-shoot of the Dean & Son publishing firm that specialised in children’s books.
Originally set up to make rag books, Dean’s soon diversified into rag sheets and soft toys, including teddy bears. The first bear was made in 1915 and during the 1920s and 1930s Dean’s were at the forefront of British bear manufacturing.
The company experimented with design and produced two different toys based on real bears, one in the 1950s and the other in the 1970s. Dean’s has gone through several name changes, from Dean’s Childsplay Toys Ltd, to Dean’s/Gwentoy Group (following its buy-out of Gwentoys in 1972), to The Dean’s Company (1903) Ltd (following a management buy-out). The company no longer makes its toys in Britain and now concentrates on the collectors’ market.
The teddy bear rag sheet was produced as part of Dean’s Knock-About range in about 1908. The instructions are printed in English, French and German and the sheet was also sold in Canada and the USA.
The simple unjointed bear was made in about 1970 when Dean’s was operating under the Childsplay label. It was designed to be used by a young child.
The golden mohair bear of 1987 was one of the first made under the original 1903 name and was given to the Museum by the company. It is a typical late design with shortened limbs and synthetic paw pads. The bear comes with a printed calico bag to keep it in.