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My Introduction to Austrian Bears.

Although Iíd been a teddy collector for many years, up until 1999 my knowledge on Austrian bears had been restricted to the small amount of information given in books written about bears.  All this changed when my husband and I  moved to Vienna where we were based until June 2003.  Because of business and family I returned frequently to the UK but otherwise spent most of my time exploring Vienna, especially its flea-markets and antique shops.  Here I found Austrian bears of different makes and before long had a collection of all shapes and sizes in our apartment.  In this time I became known to, and made friends with, several antique dealers who often saved bears for me, and talking with them greatly improved my command of the German language and the Viennese dialect!!!

Graz Teddy Club:

As with everything I collect I was keen to find out the history of these bears, how old they were , where they were made, and in this respect fate played a big part.  I was aware that a large part of the bear production had been in the area around the town of Graz in Styria in Southern Austria.  Posting a question concerning this on a Graz website brought me a reply the very next day!  It turned out that a friend of the lady who ran the website was the organiser of the Teddy Club in Graz.  She was quite amazed that an English lady was so interested in Austrian bears.  We then met and have become firm friends.  I am now an honorary member of the Graz Teddy Club and have also made friends with many of their members, one of whom actually worked for both firms of Fechter and Schwika.  I have been privileged to view many of the memberís personal teddy collections.

English Bears in Austria:

I was invited to exhibit English bears at the Teddy Club annual events in 2005 and 2006.  In October 2007, I was invited to attend  the first exhibition of the 'Verein der Freunde alten Spielzeugs' [Association for people who like old toys] in the Steinhalle, Lannach, a small town near Graz. This two-day event proved very successful and after the event I was given honorary membership of their Association.  The event was also held in 2009 and 2011.

Through my friendship with these lovely people my knowledge of Austrian bears has greatly increased, hopefully they also know a little more about English bears!!