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J. K. Farnell


Started in the mid 1800's:

The company started in the 1880s making an assortment of items, including pincushions and tea cozies.

Changing in 1897:

The death of John Kirby Farnell sees a change with a toy company started by his children. Teddy bears were first produced in 1908.

Alpha :

Alpha Bears were introduced in the 1920s, made of Yorkshire mohair and became very popular. According to "The Teddy Bear Encyclopedia" it is felt that the Alpha Bear was the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh.


An embroidered label was used until 1945, after which time a printed label as used. The first printed label had a shield in the middle with the words "Farnell, Alpha, Hygienic Soft Toy" on it. Later label was printed with no shield, reading in part "This is a Farnell Quality Soft Toy". All labels had "Made in England" and some contained the description "Made in Hastings, England."

Company sold to Action Toycraft Ltd.:

The company was sold in 1968, renamed Twyford Works, company closes the doors in the mid 1970's.

The Bottom Line:

Farnell was one of the early manufacturers of teddy bears in Britain and many of their early bears just might remind you of the Steiff Teddy Bear.

From Lucky Bears Ltd: "Farnell bears are probably the most expensive British bears but demand for Chad Valley, Chiltern and older Deans and Merrythought bears is increasing - this increases their value".

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