In 1840, John Farnell founded a company that produced household articles. His daughter and son, Agnes and Henry, took over the company after the death of their father. They started a soft-toy-animals firm in their house in Acton in West-London. J.K. Farnell used the trade name Alpha after the 1st WW. These bears were made from Yorkshire mohair. At the end of the twenties, the company had showrooms in London, Paris and New York. The factory was destroyed by fire in 1934, but a year later J.K. Farnell was back in business with a new collection of bears. In 1921 Dorothy Milne bought a Farnell-bear for her son’s birthday. This bear later became Winnie the Pooh, the famous bear of A.A. Milne.
The J.K. Farnell-bear looks a lot like his early Steiff-counterpart. A lifelike, thrusting out snout; a hunchback; long, narrowing arms with upturning, spoon-shaped hands; legs with round thighs, slim ankles and big, slender feet. The stuffing-seam centre-front is a Farnell characteristic, with which they copied the styles of Steiff and Bing.
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Apart from the last years, J.K. Farnell used the trade name Alpha for his Teddy Bears. On an Alpha-label from the 1920’s , the words where woven in blue silk on a white background. The label was sown on the foot-sole. Number one is a newer label from the 1930’s, with a red and blue shield-motive. In the last production-years, they dropped the Alpha-trade name and moved from London to Hastings, which is seen on the last label .
Teddy bear examples
left: year: ±1935, height: 16″/41cm, after the fire in 1934, Farnell changed their style, this is such a new model.
right: year: ±1920, height: 18″/46cm, a lovely bear made from mohair, filled with wood wool.
left: year: ±1920, height: 18″/46cm, a lovely bear made from mohair, filled with wood wool.
right: year: 1925, height: 20″/50cm, a Farnell-bear with the characteristic stitched claws.