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collecting reached critical mass, needing only a catalyst to set the world afize, That catalyst was commu © nication. In those days hefore teddy bear magazines and the Intemet, adules sho were discovering teddy bear col- leering had no way to connect with each other to learn, to validate their love for bears, and to meet others with the same hobby. Then along came Bar- bara Wolters, Bob Collins, Robeat Lownian, Beth Savino, D & D Produe- tions, the Northem Califomia Teddy ‘Bear Boosters, and the Intemational League of Teddy Bear Collectors—a swidespread assortment of people who all had the same good idea at about ‘the same time. "Barbara Wolters is one of the un- | sung heroes of the teddy bear world. | Inthe late 1970s, she published the first teddy bear newsletter, The Teddy Tabyme, helped only by a teddy pated Dumper who had been pur- chased at a senior citizen's crafts fair. For a long time, chat humble newslet- ter was the only source of news for teddy bear lovers. ‘With her Teddy Tribune Conyen- tion in Bloomington, Minneapolis, in 1980, Barbara also ser the stage for all the bear events that followed. For one weekend, Barbara’ The Teddy Tri- : | 1n 1980 the passion for teddy bear THE PIONEERS. teddy bear conventions and shows BY JOAN GREENE tbune Convention was the meeting place for collectors and owners of stores such as Bears in the Wood, Cheri's Teddies, Gigi’ Dolls, and Sheri’s Bears. [ went as a store owner and speaker, but I zemember how ex- cited I was to see friends and fellow collectors, and how sid I felon Sun- day when it was all over. It was a re- union and, attimes, a near rior. Some ‘of us were younger then, snd we often danced the night away with a five-foot bear named WalVia. There was ajoy in collecting and sharing with other col- lectors that was akin to finding life forms on Mars, so we celebrated In that hotel in the midale of the country, craditions were hegun that continue to this day, After the din- ners and workshops and such, reddy bear artists, always pressed for time, ‘would sit in each other's rooms sewing, stuffing, and building friend- ships. Some—just a few—of those late-night workers were Elaine Fujita Gamble, Steve Schutt, Beverly Port (john and Kim were children then), Barbara Ferrier, Jane Carlson, Shirley Howey, Doris King, Etra Foran, Pat Joho, Denis Shaw, Terry and Doris Michaud, Hillary Hulen, Barbara Sixby, Diane Gard, Mary Olsen, Ros alic Frischmann, and Debi Ortega. Nineteen eighty-two was a big year for teddy bear collectors. In looking through my boxes of teddy hear memories, I found a flyer for D&D Productions’ first Baltimore show, held at the Timonium Fair- grounds in November 1982. The front page of The Teddy Tribune for September 1982 reports a Teckly Bear Rally held at the Philadelphia Zoo and attended by over 20,000 arc- tophiles. Teddy bear collectors in Amberst, Massachusetts, held theit firse Teddy Bear Rally, and Beth Savino of The Toy Store in Toledo, Ohio, and Linda Mullins of San Diego, California, both began events that continue to this ay. One of the most amazing and most ambitious of the pioneering con- ventions was The Great American ‘Teddy Bear Rally held in 1982 and sponsored by San Francisco Bay Area promoress Bob ancl Rebecca Collins, ‘No one had told them it couldn’ebe done, so with the zeal of fst-timers, the Collinses amased hundreds of mu- seurr-quality antique teddy bears from all over the werld and exhibited them 10 collectors gathered in San Fran- cisco. Ie was the first time many collec- rors had seen rare antigue teddy bears and pictures of Margarete Steiff or ex- perienced the joy of carrying a teddy bear in broad daylight while talking TEDDY REAR AND FRIENDS: _ with other teddy bear collecting adults ‘The Collinses were so dedicated to ‘bringing teddy bear history to Ament can collectors thar they researched and. found rare, vintage, German fn footage of the Steifi factory and the ceatlies:reidy bear film known to exist From 1980 until 1985, teddy bear artistey wns in its infancy, Shows brought together crafters struggling t0 efine their art ancl collectors eager to 1dd new furry faces to their “hugs.” ‘Another important phenomena began then, roo—collecting fine antique ted- ‘diss. Many collectors had never seen vintage bears (other than their own childhood friends), and they were de- lighted when people like Michael Kir shner began waveling from Germany ro the Unites! Stares with bags full of wom and wise old be: Until about 1990, his wile, Oloria, came to the United ‘States several times a year with their European flea marker finds. When. ‘Michael set up at shows, he drew quite a crowd, He wore a Steiff But- ton earring in one ear—this in the days before men wore diamond studs with business suits—and had a table full of never-before-