Boyds' Chief Designer, CEO, and "Head
Bean" was born in New York City in 1949, the son of a German Immigrant. He
attended Alfred University in upstate New York to earn his B.S. (how
appropriate) and an M.S. in Biology. Being a self-described "true Child of the
Sixties", G.M. then joined the U.S. Peace Corps and "split" for the Fiji Islands
in the South Pacific, where he did his part for World Peace. Then, for reasons
still unknown (Masochism?), he returned to New York to embark upon a seven year
career at that Mecca of Merchandising ... Bloomingdales. At "Bloomies", G.M.
worked in purchasing, designing, and merchandising, which exposed him to some of
the fashion industry's top Clothing Designers ... and also allowed him to take
his next Bold Step. Instead of continuing his successful Bloomie's career, in
1979 G.M. moved to rural Boyds, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., to open an
antiques shop ... the beginning of The Boyds Collection Ltd.«
Antiques to Ducks to Teddy Bears?
The Boyds Collection Ltd.« began as an
antiques shop in the home of G.M. Lowenthal and his partner (now wife), Justina
Unger. Their love of antiques outweighed their ability to purchase many of the
rare items, so the team shifted its focus. Instead of the "true antiques" that
carried heavy costs, G.M. and Tina began to search out and sell "Antique
Reproductions," with the look and feel of true antiques at more affordable
prices. This retail venture proved to be so successful that by 1982 they began
to wholesale some of these top-selling antique reproductions to other stores.
Some of their most successful wholesale
items were Antique Reproduction Duck Decoys that ranged from a 9" stained teal
to a giant 3' Whistling Swan. The wholesale part of The Boyds Collection began
to flourish as G.M. designed, painted, antiqued, boxed, and sold the decoys and
Tina handled the customer service, billing, shipping, and accounting aspects of
their business. G.M. added a new line when he found a group of 100% Merino Wool
Bears from China. In 1984 G.M. designed a 12" fully joint-ed wool bear and named
it after his latest "joint venture" with ....... their newborn son, Matthew.
Also in 1984, G.M. - tired of painting 20,000 duck decoys until 3 am.- turned to
resin sculpting to produce "The Gnomes Homes," extremely detailed miniature
houses based on American architecture and his own fertile imagination.
Growing and Relocating
The company expanded from their home into
an I 880s-era Sunday School building down the street. The Lowenthals added a
secretary and a warehouse man and continued to wholesale duck decoys, wool teddy
bears, Gnomes Homes, and some antique-style brassware. In 1987, G.M. and Tina
moved to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and moved the warehouse and office to
Littlestown, Pennsylvania, ten miles east of Gettysburg.
The Boyds Collection Ltd.« has continued
to grow by leaps and bounds over the years, but as G.M. says, "We're a lot
bigger than when we were a 'mom and pop' shop, but, for better or worse, we
still run it like a 'mom and pop' shop, only on steroids. We're still a little
disorganized and a little off-center, and slightly eccentric.., just like our
How Did the Boyds Bear Line Come
G.M. Lowenthal noted the success of the
100% Merino Wool Bears that he had developed and
imported to sell in the antiques shop and whole-sale business. He then licensed
the rights to a
design that incorporated "poseable"
characteristics with a plush bear's body. Through G.M'S designs and through the
licensing of other teddy bear artists' designs, the Boyds Bear family continued
Today most of the plush Bears, Hares, and
Friends begin as concepts developed by G.M. and the Boyds Product Development
Team, through sketches or by "hands on" work with the Master Seamstress in the
factory. After a prototype is developed, G.M. makes many modifications of
pattern, color, fabric, etc., until the exact "Look, Feel, and Personality" is
achieved to his satisfaction. Once a prototype is finalized and signed off, it
is handed to the Associate Seamstresses, who make up additional prototypes and
patterns for the factory, and the Master Seamstress, who gives the instructions
for production. The Seamstresses then cut out the patterns and sew the pieces by
hand or sewing machine, in a manner similar to "Turn of the Century" teddy bear
Once the pieces are sewn together, the
plush animal is passed on to Stuffers, who use fiberfill, plastic pellets (our
famous "beans"), or a combination of both - depending on the critter's design.
From the stuffing process, the animal passes to the Embroiderers, who
hand-embroider the noses, paw pads, eyebrows, etc.- no machine embroidery is
used in the production of Boyds Bears! Finally, the plush animal is hand-brushed
and put through three final inspections. When it has passed this quality control
stage, a hangtag is attached, and the Boyds Bear is packed for shipment.
The Hairy Truth
Most Boyds Bears are intended for the
Collectibles Market. What differentiates a "toy" from a "Collectible," in our
eyes? The look and feel of the bear and its appeal to adults, of course!
Unfortunately, many believe that, because Boyds Bears are inexpensive, they are
not "collectible." Mr. Lowenthal disagrees. The Head Bean is a pretty smart
cookie who knows the value of a dollar and, further, that an item's cost doesn't
always reflect its true value! He's seen to it that Boyds Bears, through design
and craftsmanship, offer true value to the collector.
Describing Boyds plush animals is like
trying to describe your own kids.. . each one is unique, irresistible, and
slightly off-center. From a single wool bear in 1984 to the entire collection
today ... here's the line!
J.B. Bean & Associates Ö..
.comprised of fully joint-ed, pellet-filled animals that can flop, bend, and
pose in a thousand and one positions.
Recent History. .July 2001..Lead B.
Bottoms SeriesÖ... The newest Boyd Bear...this was a creation of an
Outside Designer! This is the beginning of a rising new artist that the
president of Boyds found in the small town of Flushing, Michigan. Lead B.
Bottoms actually has packets of BB`s in his bottom so that he will cuddle up
into your hands. The Artist, John Higgins is a Boyd shop owner located in the
heart of America. The L.B.B. Series was inspired by John's Son in Law who once
claimed to have "Buns Of Steel" This comment and John's response is....Enouf