Pascal, A Bear Worn with Love

Aside from the French Country and elegant chic antiques you know I’m always sourcing for the shop, I have another love: dolls, bears and children’s toys. I see hundreds of dolls and bears on our sourcing travels, some are too worn and dirty, some are almost perfect but cost the same as a down payment on a new Land Rover, but once in a while one comes along that is just right. I’d love you to meet Pascal, a Bear Worn with Love.

Pascal A Bear Worn with Love

Do you know the word for teddy bear lovers? I didn’t until a few years ago when a fellow antique dealer who sells French and English dolls and everything they come with told me. The word is arctophiles. Created in the 1970’s from the Greek word ‘arctos’ which means bear,  + ‘phile’ which means a fondness for a specified thing.

definition of arctophile


There are a few teddy bears to be had that are antique and almost perfect. They will cost the moon, and are maybe the holy grail for the most avid collectors, but to me they always seem sad. Yes, these near pristine bears might have the most value {the most expensive teddy, the Happy Anniversary Teddy Bear which was made in 1926 sold for $152,334 in 2002} but they are lacking in love. I mean, teddy bears were meant for love, hugs, and being dragged around as a little person’s most constant best friend.

The minute I saw Pascal at an antiques market, my heart was smitten with him!  Wearing a French blue and gold ribbon, with a metal badge, he is everything an antique bear should be!

Antique mohair teddy bear

Such a charmer, our Antique Mohair Bear Pascal is a beautiful golden mohair bear from the early 1900’s.  The shape of his head, body and limbs and the material used means that he is a pre-war bear from the 1920’s. Before the Second World War, teddy bears tended to have a barrel-shaped body, with long, up-curving arms and drumstick legs. The bear’s head was almost triangular, with large pronounced snouts. And then, of course, there’s the humped back everyone knows about being part of early teddies. All of which our Pascal has.

antique steiff bear face


He has a very expressive face with his sweet embroidered nose & mouth and quirky set ears. He has shaped limbs, a hump back and excelsior filling. He is a cone-nosed boy, he has replaced footpads and paws. His little person loved him so much that he wore the mohair off his body in spots. His bald patches show that he was lavished with love, probably by more than one generation. And the wear to the golden mohair fur is in all the right places, consistent with how a child would carry or play with him, or drag him around. {Fake antique bears are often attacked with power tools for sanding to wear the fur down, but it never creates wear in the right places or consistent with children’s play.}

Antique mohair hump back bear

He has so much personality, we wouldn’t change a thing about him…he is a darling! A beautiful boy, we bought him with his French bullion edged ribbon sash and the badge from his family estate. He gets along well with others, is very polite, and never brings bugs inside.

His paw pads have been replaced with a good quality fabric chosen to match his overall look. Often early bears have replaced paw pads {often several layers o them!} because their owners wanted them to look good and continue to be an active part of their family. Pascal retains his nose, and his crunchy wood excelsior stuffing is solid and maintains his original form, showing that he was treated with  love and respect. Despite all the love showered on Pascal over the last 100 years, he looks a beautiful, gentle bear.

Pascal a Bear Worn with Love

He must have been given to a little person who was part of a  wealthy family, he would have been very expensive to buy in the 1920s. He was made after WWI but before WWII, and we can only imagine how much comfort he gave to his little people living during that time. I’m sure he has had many secrets whispered to him at night, and stories to tell.

By now, if you weren’t a collector or lover of teddy bears {looking at you, arctophiles!} I’m sure that Pascal’s personality has won you over!  You may even begin a little collection of antique bears yourself. Here are a few of my best tips to ensure the bear you buy is a true antique.


Look for a Label.

If you are really lucky, the bear will still have a label. Most of the bears I see are no longer labeled, with the exception of really expensive Steiff bears with at least the metal button in their ears.

Check the Shape.

Early bears have a head that is almost triangular in shape, with a pretty prominent nose, and a barrel shaped body. They have a ‘hump’ on their back too.

Evaluate the Details.

A swiveling head, eyes made of glass, mohair fur and joined legs and arms all point to a well made earlier bear. Squeeze the bear, it should feel solid and sound slightly crunchy, since early bears were stuffed with wood wool{wood shavings also called excelsior.}

Check for Wear.

The bear’s fur should have realistic wear, as I mentioned before. Look for places where it would be natural for the bear fur to wear down, the tops of ears {because sometimes little people hold their bears by their ears!} the top of their nose {kisses} and of course their paw pads.

Smell the Bear.

I know, it seems strange, but antique bears have a certain aged smell. My French doll and bear dealer friends call this “L’Eau de Nounours Ancien” – the smell of an old bear. I’ve seen some pretty exemplary fakes here and there, but that smell is something even the best fake antique bear makers who use old mohair fur fabric can’t figure out!


Choosing an antique bear for your home or as a gift isn’t always easy. I look for a bear with personality!  A bear with character, one with a sweet or naughty face, with good eyes and snout count towards their character and desirability. What does the bear’s expression say to you?  When the bear is sitting, what does their posture show? You want to choose a bear that speaks to your heart, a bear whose expression changes depending on which angle you look at him or her from.


I hope I’ve encouraged you to look at any antique bears you might have at home with more loving eyes. Or begin a collection of your own. At this writing Pascal is still available for adoption. Ancient, slightly battered and worn with love bears are the best kind. They are filled with love, character and history!

ps. Teddy Bears can be either boys or girls…Teddy stands for Theodor or Theodora.

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3 thoughts on “Pascal, A Bear Worn with Love”

  1. Alice Genzlinger

    My friend Linda is an arctophile. She has many antique bears and before she buys a bear she reads and searches out where and when the bear was made. She has been featured in the teddy bear calendar twice that I remember. I have both calendars. The bears are very costly. She also has antique dolls and makes venues using both the bears and dolls in her home.

  2. How fun, Alice! I know a few arctophiles ( mostly in Europe) who have an astounding collection of dolls and bears. They are a wonder! Our Pascal is not such a pedigreed gentleman, but he was definitely well-loved! We do have some clients here in the US who have purchased dolls, doll armoires and doll dishes and accessories from FrenchGardenHouse for display like the ones your friend no doubt makes- aren’t they glorious?


    Bonjour, Lidy,
    He or she is a love and she was loved by someone who cared for him or her, she will be loved again, I have a couple of well loved bear’s and they have a sweet soul, enjoy till he is in his new home~~~Happy Summer~~~Jean V.B.

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