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A new sensation

The PGB 35, 1904 vintage
Teddy bear, light brown, 35 cm tall (measured in the sitting position), embroidered nose and 5 claws.

A rarity with a fascinating design and construction, which also represents an important milestone in the history of the teddy bear.

The PGB 35 (P stands for plush, G for Gestänge (metal skeleton) and B for beweglich (moveable)) is a 50 cm tall bear that will probably rewrite the history books. This bear is particularly important on account of the fact that it may well represent the previously unknown missing link between teddy bears made with a metal skeleton and those with moveable disc joints.

The Steiff archivists could scarcely believe their eyes when they saw the metal skeleton and the black, hand-embroidered nose of the PGB 35. Its design and limb fixing mechanism clearly indicate that the bear dates from 1904 and was developed after the PB 55, the PB 28 and the PB 35, but before the PAB series.

In 1902, Steiff launched the PB 55 model, the first teddy bear in the world with moveable limbs. This 55 cm tall, standing bear was stuffed with wood wool and therefore hard.

It had a cord attachment system and a sealing wax nose. The PB 55 was heavy and had a somewhat unrefined appearance. Consequently, it was not particularly well-received by customers. Richard Steiff set about addressing this problem. In 1904, he presented the PB 28 and PB 35 models. The bears were smaller (40 and 50 cm) and had a skeleton consisting of three metal rods: one controlled the lower part of the body and connected the legs, one the arms on the upper body, while the third was used to attach the head. Like their older brother, these bears also had sealing wax noses. They were smaller and lighter than the PB 55, yet still relatively heavy. To prevent the metal skeleton from sliding in the body, it had to be surrounded with wood wool to secure it.

Prior to the discovery of the PGB 35, it was assumed from the available drawings that the PAB (where P stands for plush, A for angescheibt (with disc joints) and B for beweglich (moveable)) was the follow-up teddy bear generation to the PB 28 and PB 35. They were noticeably different to their predecessors. They were more like dolls, with shorter arms, a less pronounced humpback and generally rounder, friendlier features. They also had distinctive, hand-embroidered noses and mouths. These bears were the first of their kind to have a revolutionary, new limb fastening system. With this new technology, the head, arms and legs were fixed by means of a system of cardboard and metal discs joined together with pins. This fixing system is still in use at Steiff today, almost unchanged since its introduction over a hundred years ago. Because it was then possible to dispense with the metal skeleton for securing the limbs, the need for a solid filler also disappeared. The bears were more loosely filled with wood wool or kapok (a fluffy white natural fibre from the fruit of a tropical tree). This led to a reduction of around 40% in weight. Two of the more well-known bears in PAB design are the 32 cm tall, gray Richard Steiff bear (Steiff Museum in Giengen) and Teddy Girl, a 46 cm tall, apricot-coloured bear with middle seam.

With the discovery of the PGB 35 it has now become clear that there was a transitional model between the PB 28 and the PB 35 of 1904 and the introduction of the PAB series in 1905. The PGB 35 can therefore be placed before the Teddy Girl and the Richard Steiff Teddy in chronological terms.

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