Fechter

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Please scroll down the page to see a gallery of photos of Fechter bears, other soft toys and identification tags.

Along with Berg, Fechter is perhaps the best known of the Austrian manufacturers, especially in the UK.

The Beginning:

The business was started after WW2 by Wilhelm and Berta Fechter.  Berta Fechter [nee Bohn] came from Neustadt, a town at the heart of German Doll and Teddy production where she learnt her trade working at the factory of Nicol Steiner.  The Fechters moved to Graz after the war, possibly a wise move as Neustadt became part of Eastern Germany after the wall went up.  They started their business in a house in the Leonhardbach district and registered it in 1949.  Their first products were reputedly made from any available materials including American army blankets but they quickly progressed to good quality mohair as it became available and later to synthetic plush.

A Cottage Industry:

Although basically at this stage a cottage industry, Berta’s own formal training made sure this was a well run operation.  Wilhelm also worked in the business although he was a hairdresser by trade.  Berta was a hardworking person and expected her employees to be too, ‘no time for idle chat’ she would say.  Her young workers underwent formal 3 year apprenticeships with training in a technical college and in the workplace.  Training took place in all aspects of bear-making and this was evident with the quality of the Fechter end product.

1960s and 70s:

In the 1960’s as the family expanded along with manufacturing production, the Fechters moved to another house in the Andritz suburb of Graz.  In 1973 they acquired a factory in Wies.  It would appear that Berta Fechter died around this time but Wilhelm kept the factory going until 1979, again far east imports playing a part in its demise.  Wilhelm died in 1983 and the contents of the factory were sold to dealer in the USA.

Unlike other manufacturers Fechter marketed their products themselves and had contacts in Europe and the USA.  They reputedly had a large glass showcase in the centre of Graz and did not sell them through the toy and department stores like other producers.  Fechter products were also expensive.

Fechter Bears:

The most commonly found type of Fechter bear is that of the open mouthed ‘Teddy Baby’ type similar to Steiff but with its own unique touches.  This  bear can be found in various sizes, types and colours of mohair, and later, synthetic plush.  Earlier bears had glass eyes and felt paws, later ones plastic eyes and short pile plush paws.  All had the open felt mouths with red felt tongues. Fechter also made bears with closed mouths, not as easily found, as the open mouthed bears were certainly more popular in Austria.  Collectors in the UK mostly favour closed mouth bears, my research concluding that the type of bear you had as a child plays a big part in determining which type you prefer!!  Another characteristic of Fechter bears is their very firm woodwool stuffing.  It is also interesting to note that much of the mohair used by Fechter was the same as used by Steiff, possibly from the same suppliers and obtained through Berta’s German connections.  The pictures show a Fechter bear made from the long mohair as used for the mane of Steiff’s larger 'Leo' lion and another bear part of which is the same mohair as found in Steiff squirrel ‘Perri

Identification:

Identification of Fechter bears is in the form of a label sewn into the seam of the ear, usually the left but can sometimes be in the right.  Various forms of woven and printed labels were used, the writing was brown on a cream background. Pictures of some of the labels used can be seen in the photo gallery.

Other Toys:

As well as their large range of bears, Fechter also produced various soft toy animals, mainly dogs, cats and rabbits some very similar to those made by Steiff.

 

Click on the pictures to enlarge:

 

2 Closed-mouth Fechter Bears

My largest Fechter Bear looking smart in his Lederhosen

White Fechter Bears

Rare Fechter Panda

Dog Cat & Rabbit by Fechter

Unusual Fechter Teddy Baby.The tipped fur used on the ears and paws is the same as used on the manes of smaller Steiff lions

Fechter Bears with old postcard showing Fechter bear

Closed mouth Fechter Bear -echt Steierisch!

Fechter Teddy- note the peach mohair bib just like the Steiff 'Zotty' bear

Rare blue Fechter Teddy

Rare green Fechter Bear[picture by kind permission of the owner]

Woven Label 'Fechter Spielwaren'

Larger woven 'Fechter Spielwaren' label

Teddy symbol as seen on Fechter labels

Fechter woven 'Rein Mohair' label

Printed' Fechter Spielwaren' label

Woven 'Fechter Styria' label

Fechter teddy made from mohair similar to that used for Steiff' Perri' Squirrel