Schenker

[Home] [Austrian Bear Makers] [Research] [Repairs & Restorations] [Sales] [Get in Touch]

[Berg] [Fechter] [Ratz-Fogel] [SAF] [Schenker] [Schwika] [Miscellaneous] [Reproductions and Fakes]

 

Please scroll down the page to see a gallery of photos of Schenker bears, other soft toys and identification tags.

The Beginning:

Katherina and Martin Schenker began their business in Graz after WW2.  They were of German-Rumanian descent [Siebenburger] and possibly came to Austria to escape the advance of communism. Martin had been a war casualty under the care of the British. The idea of starting a business making soft toys came to them when Katherina made a teddy for the children at Christmas. Toys were scarce to find at the time and they thought there might be a market for them, but obtaining materials for manufacture would be difficult. Martin had a good idea and contacted the British occupying forces saying that he wanted to start a business but had no materials. They gave him a box of Army surplus items including old uniforms, sheepskin jackets, blankets and from this came the first products. Because they were not Austrian citizens they could not register a company in their own right and had to sell their products through another registered firm.

A Cottage Industry:

Actual production took place in their tiny flat where they were raising a family. Material supplies came from off-cuts from milliners and old clothing from antique shops. Business flourished and this eventually led to a move to Glockenspielplatz in the town centre where they had a flat to live in and one to work in and also eventually the acquisition of citizenship which enabled then to register their firm in their own name.

Lambskin:

As lambskin had been one of their first available materials and had influenced their production of teddies using this as covering, Martin then sought quality Italian lamb skin to improve  his product, being the only Austrian manufacturer to use this . The quality of the products were good but perhaps not as pleasing to the eye as their Graz counterparts  and unfortunately not as durable as the mohair ones.

Identification:

Schenker identified his products with a label in the ear and a cardboard disc tied round the neck, not so easy to come across these days. A most notable product is the white teddy with red paws [Austrian flag colours]. 

Michael Rosen:

The workforce also increased and some of his workers trained in college with those of the firms of Schwika and Fechter.  The Schenkers gave up the business in 1975. Martin Schenker had been ill for some time but managed to keep going although it was at  the time when  Austrian teddy production was in general decline due to the cheaper imports. Like Fechter Schenker toys were expensive. Making things out of lambskin is time consuming and with expensive raw materials is overall costly. The production was taken over by Michael Rosen who had got to know the Schenkers when he worked in the wholesalers in Vienna where they bought their supply of Italian lambskin. He also came from the same area in Rumania so had a lot in common.

End of an Era:

Michael Rosen managed to keep production going until 1982.He kept to using the lambskin but experimented with softer fillings and leather paws hoping he could create greater appeal and widen the market but it was a struggle and the factory closed with no one willing to continue the business.

Other Animals:

Because they are made from lambskin Schenker teddies are not the most sought after by collectors and unfortunately most are quite ugly to look at, although the toy animals are much more appealing if found in good condition, not easy as lambskin does not age well  can easily tear and is difficult to repair].  However the firm is part of post war Austrian teddy history and I hope the pictures of my own collection may inspire more collectors to seek them out.

Click on the pictures to enlarge:

 

Typical Teddy by 'Schenker' in white lambswool

Dog?/Baby tiger?? by' Schenker' made from sheepskin

Very large teddy made from sheepskin by Schenker

Small Schenker rabbit made from lambskin

Large brown sheepskin bear by Schenker with ear label and neck tag sitting with a smaller later model white Schenker bear

Typical Schenker label

Hard to find Schenker cardboard neck tag