J K Farnell was first set up as a family business by John Kirby Farnell in 1840 although the first bear was not produced until around 1908. The first products which the company made were totally unrelated to teddy bears and were domestic wares such as tea cosies and pin cushions.
In 1897 John Farnell died so the business passed to his son Henry and his daughter Agnes. This was when they first started producing soft toys.
Early Farnell Bears often had clear glass eyes if they were large while the smaller bear had black button eyes. Theirs muzzles are often shaved and they had vertical silk floss stitched noses. Another trait of old Farnell Bears is the material which was usually long and silky mohair. Paw Pads could be made of either felt or cotton.
As with Steiff, Farnell Bears also had humps but these were more rounded than their Steiff rivals.
In 1921 Farnell was registered as a private company and a new factory, the Alpha Works, was built. This led to Alpha being registered as a trademark in 1925.
Production ceased in 1968 and the Farnell company name was bought by Merrythought in 1996.