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Raikes Bears
It's a Family Affair
NOTE: It appears that the Raikes Company has either gone out of business or is no longer active at this time. If I receive more information on the status of the company, it will be posted here.


A California native, Robert Raikes called many places around the U.S. country his home, and can even add England to his list of residences, during his growing up years. Add a military tour, travel in Southeast Asia and you have a well-rounded person, interesting, who brings that perspective to his life and chosen career. Robert has carved for years -- he started in junior high, carved while he served in the Navy and after winning an award as a novice, he decided to turn his hobby into a profession.

The first pieces were a variety of wooden sculptures -- creating and carving everything from furniture to carousel horses. But it was in the mid-seventies that Robert started to find his niche when he was asked to produce dolls. The hand carved wooden dolls with cloth bodies (filled with sawdust) found a ready market.

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In the early 1980's when bears were becoming very popular, Raikes decided to use his wood carving talents and make a very different bear. His bears were mohair, like the other artist bears, but had the added feature of a hand carved wooden face. The wooden face brings a whole different perspective to the look and expression of a bear. He worked and sold the bears for a few years, then finally approached Applause about licensing the unique bears. And in 1985 Raikes entered the bear market in a big way with the Applause company. This alliance existed until the early 1990s when he took back control of his den of bears with the commitment of keeping the quality high and the edition numbers low.

Today the company is run by the Raikes Family, daughter Jennifer is the production manager, Emily is in sales. His son Jason helps with the design work and son-in-law Ryan is the office manager. Three seamstresses round out the company by helping produce the designs and samples.

The bears are hand carved and designed by Robert, samples are then sent to China to be hand carved and produced. The bears are all hand carved in China in a variety of small grained woods, although maple is the most commonly used. Faces are stained, painted, lacquered and then sewn out of mohair.

Raikes Bears are sold in gift shops, teddy bear shops, specialty stores, online and also through QVC.


Robert loves to talk with collectors about his bears, just look at the twinkle in his eyes as he holds some of his creations.

Photographs (c)2000 Barbara Crews, licensed to About, Inc.

 

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