Retired Photo Album
Very Old Price Guides
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Introduction To NABCO
In the early 1970's, Barbara Isenberg was living in New York, writing a hardware column for the New York Times and raising her three year old son, Christopher. Looking at his toys, she found them lacking in the endearing qualities she remembered of the toys of her youth.
Thus, Barbara set out to create a softer toy with an interesting design and emotional potential. She asked her fashion designer friend, Odl Bauer, to make a teddy bear out of an old sweatshirt so it would be soft and cuddly, yet different from anything that was currently avaialable in toy stores. That bear evolved into Albert the Running Bear. Barbara' friends adored Albert as much as her son did, and it was then Barbara realized the need for teddy bears in everyone's life
In 1978, after perfecting a variety of sample bears, Barbara and her brother Paul Levy, formed North American Bear Co., Inc. Their strategy was to appeal to adults as well as children with unique and high quality products people could identify with.
Odl Bauer, who sewed the first bear, joined Paul and Barbara and together they worked on developing the VIB's (Very Important Bears). Using her English literature background, Barbara experimented with a variety of names and puns for these colorful 20" velour bears. The first was Douglas Bearbanks, based on the legendary silent film star. He was followed by Scarlett O'Beara, Chef Bearnaise and Amelia Bearheart. The VIB's are all eventually retired to make room for new introductions and often increase in dramatically in value on the secondary market. For example, Amelia Bearheart is currently valued at $1,500.
The next major line to be introduced was the VanderBear Family, created in 1983. This family of classic golden jointed teddy bears including father Cornelius, mother Alice, brother Fuzzy, sister Fluffy, and baby Muffy. Each member of the family is available undressed or in a variety of high quality and detailed costumes. Muffy has become a runaway best seller and even has her own fan club!
More recently, North American Bear Co. has diversified into a full range of plush creations including dogs, cats, bunnies, monkeys, and pigs. Each has it's own original look and name.
Albert the Running Bear who started it all, is now the subject of three children's books published by Houghton Mifflin that Barbara co-authored.
All of the products are created by our in-house team of
designers in our New York studio, while our sales office and
warehouse are located in Chicago.