The number one question I get asked is :How should the bears be looked after?
I should say at the outset that there is no universal answer because this is a surprisingly complex question. There are so many underlying issues that any collector has to consider.
From the fundamentals : Why you are collecting?
e.g. For enjoyment or for investment or any combination of both? and
How do you view your collection?
e.g. as something to display , something to hide away or something to be played with etc
To the practical considerations which are unique to each collection
e.g.where you live- local temperature, humidity, risk of condensation, risk of dust, DIY disruptions, smoke, pests, animals, children, travel and house-moves etc .
What I can do perhaps is to suggest ways to avoid some of the damage to bears that I spot when I am out and about viewing collections:
Bears left in direct sunshine will fade ( sometimes in a single afternoon!). We have all seen examples of Bears with different coloured head and shoulders from being sat regularly on a windowsill.
Bears left outdoors may not survive being baked or soaked and a mohair bear will be left permanently damaged by a session in a tumble drier.
Bears in Lighted Display Cabinets which are not sealed may discolour if the internal lighting is too bright, and the lights may attract moths to the bears. Smoke from cigarettes and fires and dust may also penetrate the gaps in the cabinet and the fabric of the bears.
Even Bears in the relative security of sealed cabinets need picking up and turning fairly frequently to ensure that the mohair is not flattened from too much sitting.
Old mohair Bears have already demonstrated a remarkable survival instinct in surviving this long and will enjoy being displayed on chairs and shelves and beds etc and handled freely but do still need to be kept free of dust which can lodge in the mohair and need to be kept out of the mouths of pets and children .
With a degree of care they will survive remarkably well as long as they are protected from moths and regularly handled to avoid too much sitting in one position.
Special Limited edition Artist bears are relatively modern and so depend for their investment value on the preservation of their accessories intact and in near perfect condition.It is almost impossible to keep the full investment value in such limited editions once the accessories get lost or damaged. Great importance in terms of future collectable value is keeping the cardboard tags that come with the modern bear since these are increasingly used to date and authenticate these bears against potential mass market copycats. Thus the resale value on such bears will be substantially higher if the original tags are attached or made available ( together with branded bags etc.)
In long term storage, Bears should be wrapped carefully and individually to keep them safe from predators and to protect them from being contaminated together.
Take care if using coloured wrappings that they dont leech into the mohair or damage the packaging .
Care should be taken to keep bears in storage away from predators, extremes of temperature and remember that Strong moth balls can also affect the smell of the bear .
Even stored bears should be inspected regularly to spot any possible risks to them and turned regularly to avoid undue pressure on the mohair.
Whether you are keeping your collection as an Investment , for the joy of collecting or for purely sentimental reasons, you will want to keep them as long as possible and in the best possible condition. But sometimes the best thing you can do for your much loved favourite bears is just to keep them with you , close at hand. There is nothing nicer than having Bears around and giving them a quick cuddle!
Keeping your collection out of sight and out of mind , or inaccessible, takes all the fun out of collecting Bears.
So, the most important thing in my book is to take time to enjoy your collection, to observe and appreciate each bear on a regular basis and to be mindful of anything unusual that might pose a risk to your Bears so you can take steps to protect them.
Bears like pleasant conditions and peaceful lives- Just like us really !!
Lizzie is the Chief Bear Collector for Blakesley Bears and writes an occasional blog about Collecting Bears, building , caring for and maintaining Collections and some of the issues affecting Bear collectors generally.