The firm William J. Terry was founded in Stoke Newington, London in 1890 and moved to Hackney in 1909. Terry was a skin merchant and made soft toys using animal fur. The company used the trademark Terry’er Toys after an early soft toy terrier that had been modelled on Caesar, the pet dog of King Edward VII.
Terry’s, along with other British manufacturers experienced a real boom during the First World War (1914-1918) when German imports were banned. Teddy bears were so popular that the company had to find a new factory in 1915.
William J. Terry died in 1924 leaving the management of the business to his son Frederick. The company struggled in the 1930s and closed before the start of the Second World War (1939-1945).
This is the Museum’s earliest British bear. It has all the characteristics of a Terry’s bear, made from shaggy mohair and with a long straight body and high pointed hump. The eyes are glass with painted backs and the nose, mouth and claws stitched with black wool.
The webbed claw stitching on this bear’s paws is a characteristic of early English bears. The stuffing is a mixture of wood wool and kapok. The bear was called Ted by his owner who was born in 1894.