These sweet-faced, cuddly Wendy Boston bears, first launched on BBC television in 1955, revolutionised the manufacture of teddies and the way they were made. With their moulded, locked-in safety eyes (first patented by Wendy Boston in 1948), nylon fur and foam filling, they were hailed as the first range of soft toys in the world to be completely washable and safe – ‘free from glass and wire’.
Appealing to hygiene and safety-conscious parents, Wendy Boston bears were eagerly embraced by children. Soft and cuddly, with no breakable parts, the bears’ inviting outstretched arms, begging to be hugged, proved an enormous attraction to youngsters. So much so, that by 1966, the Wendy Boston firm was making more than half of the two million soft toys produced in Britain.
The Boston Family
As a child of the Wendy Boston era, and a keen arctophile, the owner of our Boston family was irresistibly drawn to collecting them. These four characters are from this much-loved ‘Playsafe’ hug – Betsy, Bonnie, Billy and Burt.
Betsy is the prettiest little blue-eyed white teddy, wearing the hand-knitted jerkin as shown in the magazine feature. She measures 20 cms (8″) high in her sitting position, and is in beautiful original condition. She has embroidered features and paw claws, and the signature arms stretching outwards for affection.
Blue Bonnie is the smallest of the Boston family, being 18 cms (7″) sitting down. She still has her satin leg label – ‘WENDY BOSTON, wash in luke warm suds, made in England’ – and also her original pink nylon neck ribbon. Her eyes are blue, and she’s ever so cute with her contrasting white muzzle and pricked up ears. Bonnie is wearing her charming hand-knitted jacket.
Billy has shaggy gold fur, with an inset muzzle of clipped plush to match his footpads. He also has his leg label, and his eyes are amber. Apart from missing a few claws, he’s in lovely condition. Billy is 22 cms (8.5″) sitting down, and is shown next to Betsy in the magazine feature, but is wearing a white jerkin instead of his current multi-coloured jumper.
Blue Burt was made in 1963, and is mentioned in the owners’ magazine article as being a favourite bear in her childhood toy box. An identical, though faded example of Burt is also featured in Christie’s Century of Teddy Bears book by Leyla Maniera, page 123. Burt is the largest of the Boston bunch at 25 cms (10″) high. His eyes are blue, and he’s in super condition, wearing his blue tweedy knitted jumper.
Overall, the Boston family represents an important slice of British history; a major turning point in the manufacture of teddy bears. They’re photographed in a Fortnum’s wicker hamper, which they can just about squeeze into! We’re happy to include this, though it’s quite heavy and will obviously affect their postage cost. But it’s excellent for displaying this treasured collection of teddies.