Schwika

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

The Beginning:

After returning from  WW2 Karl SchwIngenschlögl set up a business in his cellar in Graz with his younger brother and sister first making small doll figures from old army clothes.

Karl Schwingenschlögl was a teacher by profession and returned to this leaving the running of the business to his siblings.  He spent his free time looking for prospective customers and in the school holidays attended fairs throughout Austria to sell his products and find new buyers.  He married twice, both his wives were German and both worked at sometime in the business.

A Cottage Industry:

Although production increased into bears and later other soft toys mostly of good quality, the business remained basically a cottage industry.  The young workers, however, served apprenticeships alongside those from Fechter and Schenker in the technical college.

Schwika Bears:

The bears are very similar to those of Fechter possibly because the apprentices trained together and swapped ideas, also some of the workers changed factories taking their own ideas and style with them.

The Schwika version of ‘Teddy baby ‘is slightly different to that of its Fechter counterpart.   Both have the open mouth but whereas the Fechter bear is fully jointed the Schwika bear has jointed legs and arms that are poseable with an inner wire.  It is also freestanding giving it a somewhat different look.  It came originally with a little apron and a dummy, not easy to find complete these days especially as Schwika bears in general are hard to find, even in Austria.

Identification:

 Schwika had only one form of ID from the start that being a metal seal imprinted ’Pluschtiere Schwika Graz’ attached to a red cord, always found in the [usually the left] ear of teddies but attached in different places on other items.  Having been worried about complaints from Steiff saying this was an ID too similar to theirs, Karl Schwingenschlögl consulted his lawyer who assured him there would be no case to answer as this was a seal and not a button like Steiff used.

End of an Era:

Karl Schwingenschlögl retired in 1974 and that marked the end of production.  With the increase of cheap imports from the far east and given the small size of the business there was no interest from anyone to take it on.  Any stock left over was sold off but the patterns and some unused materials remain in Graz to this day.

Click on the pictures to enlarge:

'Schwika' Teddy Baby with ID

One of the earliest items made by Schwika complete with ID

A young lion by Schwika

Three Schwika animals all with ID

The 'Schwika' identification seal

Schwika Rabbit'Baby' with apron and handkerchief

Schwika Elephant with ID

Another slightly larger Schwika Elephant with ID

The cutest Schwika Tabby Cat with ID

Closed mouth Schwika Teddy with ID

Schwika Duckling with ID