North American Bear Company collection Edit


Finding Aid Author
Kelli Emler and Julia Novakovic
Finding Aid Date
November 2015
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


  • 1989 – 2004 (Creation)


  • .2 Linear Feet (Whole)

Agent Links



  • Abstract

    The North American Bear Company collection is a compilation of newsletters, company-produced magazines, and articles. The bulk of the materials in this collection are dated between 1990 and 2001.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donors have not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, they have given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.

  • Custodial History

    The North American Bear Company Collection was donated to The Strong in December 2011 as a gift from Barbara Isenberg of The North American Bear Company. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 111.6966.

  • Preferred citation for publication

    North American Bear Company collection, Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong

  • Processed by

    Kelli Emler, September 2015

  • Historical Note

    The North American Bear Company was established in 1978 by Barbara Isenberg and her brother, Paul Levy. During the 1970s, Isenberg became interested in toy design and wanted to create plush toys which appealed to both children and adults.

    The North American Bear Company’s first major product line of Very Important Bears (or VIBs) included 20” plush bears with names such as Scarlett O’Beara, Queen Elizabear, and William Shakesbear. In 1983, North American Bear released its VanderBear Family series, which soon featured the extremely popular Muffy VanderBear. Muffy eventually had a fan club formed in her honor; she also starred in the company’s Fanfare magazine. North American Bear offered new annual variations of Muffy along with special outfits and accessories, even manufacturing some non-bear friends for Muffy.

    North American Bear continues to produce high-quality plush toys and licensed collectible bears.

  • Collection Scope and Content Note

    The North American Bear Company collection is a compilation of magazines, newsletters and articles. Best known for the character Muffy VanderBear, the North American Bear Company developed consumer catalogs, newsletters, and magazines to publicize its products to collectors and plush toy fans alike. The bulk of the materials in this collection are dated between 1990 and 2001.

    The North American Bear Company collection has been arranged into three series. The collection is housed in one archival document box.

  • Related Materials

    The Strong museum holds more than 200 plush toys and other products from the North American Bear Company.

  • System of Arrangement

    Series I: Fanfare magazine, 1991-2001

    Series II: North American Bear News newsletters, 1989-2001

    Series III: Bear information, 1995-2004

External Documents


  • Type
    Container 1 Type
    Container 1 Indicator
    Container 1 Barcode
    North American Bear Company collection