The Knickerbocker Toy Company was founded around 1850 in Albany, New York and started out manufacturing educational toys, like alphabet blocks. The unusual name ‘Knickerbocker’ derived from the nickname for the citizens of New York. The name is a reference to the baggy trousers the original Dutch settlers wore.

The first bears ascribed to Knickerbocker are from around 1925, when the company started to use permanent labels. The company was proud to produce high-quality toy animals and called them ‘Animals of Distinction’. The Knickerbocker bears were by far the best American bears from that period, but still quite affordable.
In the 1960s, the company won the license to manufacture ‘Smokey Bear’, until 1977 en became reasonably famous with it. Even a talking version was made, with a build-in tape that told the children about preventing forest fires.

In 1968 the company moved to Middlesex, New Jersey. There, they imported the different parts from Korea, sown and all. At the end of the 1980s, the company was closed down.


[1] – [2] – [3]

From around 1925, Knickerbocker started to use permanent labels. Usually, the labels were sown into the centre seam. From the late 1940s, a satin label [1] was used with a small figure in a horseshoe with the words: ‘Made under sanitary laws’, which meant that the plush and the stuffing was hygienic.
In the 1950s, to the Knickerbocker logo from before the war (‘Animals of Distinction’) a second new registered trademark was added: ‘Joy of a Toy’ [2].
From the New York label [3], you can determine that the bear should be from the beginning of the 1960’s because the company moved to a factory in Middlesex, New Jersey in the second half of the 1960’s.

Collecting teddy bears

Knickerbocker characteristics from the 1920s: a flat face, straight slender back, big diagonal ears and low places arms.
A typical Knickerbocker trademark from after the 2nd WW is a pointy snout from a separate piece of plush, with is shaven shorter than the rest of the plush, a chubby body and a round head with a big forehead. In that time the company began to use synthetic fabrics and sparkling eyes from glass, later from plastic.
There are a lot of white Knickerbocker bears around, which possibly means that was a popular colour then.

Teddy bear examples

left: year: 1935, height: 18″/45cm, colour: cinnamon, a typical Knickerbocker bear from that period. It has a shaven, long, but snub snout. Bent, small narrowing arms and big feet. A thin straight body without a hump.
right: year: 1940, height: 20″/50cm, colour: golden mohair, a real cuddly toy with a round head, put on snout and chubby arms and legs. Filled with kapok.

left: year: 1928, height: 12″/30cm, white bears were popular in that period. It has a casted nose and a flat face.
middle: year: 1955, height: 17″/43cm, colour: shaggy, brown mohair.
right: year: 1955, height: 20″/50cm, bat-ears, big and flat.