The hunt is on!!

Past Times Easter Egg Hunt

We have hidden 10 Easter eggs around the PT website and we want you to find them. Everyone that submits an entry will recieve a discount code and there are three fantastic main prizes to be won!

Look out for this egg:

The prizes

Art Deco Small ArmoireUnion Jack Tapestry FootstoolSterling Silver Faux Emerald Circles & Rectangle Pendant

+ every entry will receive a special discount code on the 5th April 2012

Click here for all your Easter essentials

How to enter:

1) Look around the web site and find as many Easter eggs as you can that have been hidden around the site.

2)Email us at with the locations of the eggs. You will be emailed back with your discount code on the 5th April 2012.

3) We will pick a the winners at random on the 5th of April

Full Ts & Cs will are located on the website
Terms & Conditions

Good Luck!


Collectible British Bears & London 2012 Memorabilia

Merrythought to Create Olympics Teddy Bear

The Queen Visits Merrythought - 1950s

When Great Britain won the bid to stage the 2012 Olympics it was a much-needed boost to the morale of a country in a recession – and a great excuse to celebrate the very best of Britain.

So when British teddy bear manufacturer Merrythought was asked to make a commemorative bear for the Olympics and Paralympics it was absolutely delighted that a British-made bear would become a symbol for such an important event. The traditional jointed mohair bears with a choice of pink, blue or green detailing will be produced in a limited edition of only 2012 and are expected to be released in May of this year.

History of Merrythought Bears

The very first Merrythought bear – the Magnet bear – was made in 1930. The founders of Merrythought – Mr Holmes and Mr Laxton – initially had a spinning mill in Yorkshire, specialising in mohair, but in 1930 they moved to Coalbrookdale in Yorkshire and with the help of leading personnel from two other British bear manufacturers, J.K. Farnell and Chad Valley, started to make their own traditional bears. The Merrythought name, taken from the 17th century word for wishbone, a symbol of luck, was registered the same year, and the wishbone is a feature on every new bear’s tag.

Today, over 80 years after the first Merrythought teddy bear came out of the Coalbrookdale factory, teddies are still being made there using the same high quality materials and techniques. Each jointed mohair bear is lovingly handmade and individually hand finished, giving every one its very own special character.

Value of Merrythought Bears

Merrythought Bear Factory

It is no surprise that because of the love that goes into making Merrythought bears they are so highly sought-after today. Early examples command a premium amongst collectors, but new Merrythought bears are just as desirable, their appealing faces and excellent quality making them a first choice gift for newborns, as well as a favourite bear for children and adults alike. Any Merrythought bear given as a gift will become a treasured friend that will stay with its owner throughout their life and hopefully be passed down from generation to generation.

Nearly everyone we talk to has a story about a Merrythought bear to tell. Rosie, our web buyer, still has the bear she was given at the age of two when her baby sister was born. It may be a little worn around the edges now, but still sports the hand-knitted scarf she made for it all those years ago!

Here at Past Times, we just adore Merrythought bears, which is why we have asked Merrythought to make us our own commemorative bear to celebrate our 25th birthday this year! It’s early days yet, and the bear is still being developed, but we can’t wait to see it and share it with you, our customers, so please do watch this space for an update.

We know that there are hundreds of teddy bear stories to be told, not just ones about Merrythought, and it would be great if some of you would like to share these stories with us. We would love to hear them!

Unique Father’s Day Gift Ideas 2011

Unique Father’s Day Gifts For Your Dad

Father's Day Hip Flasks

Father’s Day on 19th June is a chance for children, young and old, to say ‘thank you’ to their Dads, and what better way to express your love than with one of Past Times’ inspiring Father’s Day gift ideas?
The best Father’s Day presents are those that show you know and understand your Dad, such as a visit to his favourite restaurant or a trip to the opera or a special football match, or a gift inspired by some of the things he loves best, whether it’s gardening or cooking, listening to music, or sitting on the sofa with a good book.

Father’s Day Gifts For Book Lovers

Father's Day Books

The Past Times library is filled with fantastic books to entertain and inspire, including beautifully illustrated keepsake books that are bound to cover one of your Dad’s favourite pastimes. We have books for art lovers and music buffs, football fanatics and cricket aficionados, books on the spitfire and the Second World War, books for gardeners and cooks, books on trains and cars, plus anthologies of jokes, humorous recollections and just plain silliness that will have your Dad laughing out loud.

World War Father’s Day Gifts

Father's Day Wartime Gifts

For a lot of Dads, the First and Second World Wars are a constant source of fascination, some Dads having experienced war at first hand, others with Dads or uncles who have lived through conflict. At Past Times we have a range of military history books that offer the perfect Father’s Day present, from books on the Blitz to books on the Battle of Britain. Other Father’s Day gift ideas for war enthusiasts include a range of Spitfire emblazoned gifts, from key rings and cufflinks to cushions and ties, plus a host of items printed with the famous Second World War motto, “Keep calm and carry on.” And if it’s the Great British spirit your dad loves, our Union Jack range will make ideal Father’s Day presents.

Father’s Day Gifts for Music Lovers

For music lovers, Past Times has an eclectic mix of CDs to suit every taste, many offering a very welcome trip down memory lane, from sounds from the ‘50s and the big bands, to nostalgic love songs and rousing film theme tunes. We also have biopics of some of the greatest music legends, from Pink Floyd to The Beatles, plus books about the very best guitar heroes, as well as T-shirts and mugs printed with Beatles memorabilia. Other unique Father’s Day gifts for the musical-minded include our retro-style radios, and CD and MP3 players in the shape of the iconic mini and jukebox, plus traditional-style music players that look like antiques but feature all the latest technology.

Father's Day - Dennis the Menace

These are just some of the Father’s Day gift ideas you can choose for your Dad at Past Times, there are lots more, including nautical-inspired gifts for the sailor, mugs, books and flasks printed with nostalgic images from Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly, Mr. Men mugs and comic book-inspired items featuring the likes of Superman and Dennis the Menace.

Collector Teddy Bears – The Story of Steiff Bears

The Story of Steiff Bears

My First Steiff

In 1902 a new arrival appeared on the toy market which was to take the world by storm and propel the name of Steiff into the global premier league of toy manufacturers and give , giving it the legendary status it enjoys today. Unassumingly called ‘55 PB,’ nothing had been seen like it before. Lifelike, gifted with movement and so appealing, the very first jointed teddy bear had been born.
Yet the phenomenon that we know now recognize as Steiff grew from modest beginnings. Margarete Steiff, born in Germany in 1847, had begun dressmaking to earn a living. Wheelchair bound as result of contracting polio at only 18 months old, her dedication and work ethic meant that within ten years she had managed to open her own dressmaking shop and business, the Felt Mail Order Co.

Margarete Steiff

It was in 1880 that Margarete Steiff was inspired to create a delightful felt pincushion in the shape of an elephant. Intended to be a functional item, the enchanting design meant that it quickly captured children’s hearts and imaginations and, encouraged by her family, she opened her own felt toy company, Maragrete Steiff GmbH. Within five years she had sold over 5000 elephants, further Steiff animals were added to the range and the family company grew steadily.
But it was the arrival of Margarete’s nephew, Richard Steiff in 1897 which was to transform the company. Fresh from his studies at the Stuttgart school of art, he was fascinated by the unique bond that can develop between humans and animals and made numerous sketches from zoo visits which inspired the creation of new Steiff toys.
It was Richard Steiff who designed the animal for which Steiff is now most famous, the Steiff teddy bear. The year was 1902 and nothing like it had been seen before. The name 55 PB stood for 55cm sitting, P – plush, B – beweglich (moveable) and he was presented at the Leipzig spring trade fair in 1903. Spotted by Hermann Berg, chief buyer for the New York wholesalers George Borgfeldt, he immediately realized the bear’s potential, ordered 3,000 and the Steiff bear was on its way to achieving the iconic status it has today.
Important design tweaks led to ‘perfection’. In 1904, the trademark ‘Knopf Im Ohr’ – ‘Button In Ear’ was introduced to distinguish Steiff bears and other Steiff animals from illegal and inferior imitations. In 1905 Richard introduced disc joints of a type still used today and in 1908, the Steiff bear started to talk with the aid of a growler. In 1907 alone, Steiff produced 974,000 bears all made by hand and the company had become universally known and loved.

Antique Steiff Bears Price Guide

Vintage Steiff

Today Steiff teddy bears remain the world’s most popular soft toy and are serious collector’s items as well. The value of antique teddy bears and Steiff bears in particular can be quite extraordinary. The oldest known Steiff bear fetched £82,000 in 2000 when it was sold in auction. In 1989, a bright red Steiff bear by the name of Alfonzo attracted great interest at a Christies London auction. This 33 cm bear was a gift from the Grand Duke of Russia to his daughter, Princess Xenia. Good fortune meant that both the Princess and Alfonzo were in London when the First World War and Revolution began, so there they remained. Finally, word came of the Grand Duke’s assassination in 1919. Alfonzo remained a treasured reminder of her lost father until the Princess’ death in the 1960s. With such a story to tell this unique Steiff bear achieved a hammer price of £12,100.

What Makes A Steiff Bear Special?

Steiff Ballerina Lotte Bear in a Suitcase

Ask this question to a hundred different Steiff teddy bear owners and you will receive a hundred different replies. Each one has its own story to tell, its own unique history and journey which gives each Steiff bear a personality of its very own.
However, if you were to try to pinpoint in a more tangible way exactly why Steiff toys and Steiff animals are so special then the best starting point is with the company motto and Margarete Steiff’s guiding principle that ‘Only the best is good enough for our children.’ This has helped the company to achieve an unrivalled level of quality and craftsmanship. Each and every Steiff toy is made in Germany at the Steiff workshops from the best quality materials, whether it is the finest mohair, synthetic plush or woollen felt.
Their quality statement known as The Purity Law is a commitment to use no harmful or allergenic substances and no harmful dyes or colours.
A Steiff stuffed toy is as far away as it is possible to be from the soulless process of factory mass production. Each is handmade and hand finished, so each Steiff animal begins life with a unique look all of its own. No two Steiff toys are exactly the same and no other bear is born from a family with such a tradition and history attached to it. To give or receive a Steiff bear is to give or receive a unique ‘friend for life’, bringing with it all the brand stands for.
At Past Times we have carefully selected a range of Steiff bears to help you choose your ‘friend for life’ or that extra special gift to be treasured for a lifetime and beyond. Whether you are celebrating a new arrival, birthday, graduation or marriage or simply want to show someone how much they mean to you, we have the perfect bear for the occasion. And whether you are shopping online or planning a visit to one of our shops, there will be a fully trained member of staff or member of our customer services team to help and advise you with your selection and deal with any questions you may have.

Mother’s Day Ideas to Treat your Mum

Mother's Day Cushions

When you treat your mother this Mother’s Day you will be continuing a tradition that dates back over 400 years. In the 16th century, families, who normally visited their local village church, were expected to go to their original home, or mother church, on the 4th Sunday before Lent. As one of the few days when people would see their mothers, it soon became a day to celebrate that special relationship. In Victorian times young people in service were given this day off to go and visit their mothers, often gathering posies along the way, or baking breads and cakes to take with them.

In the 21st century, Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday as it is more traditionally known in the UK, is still the day to make your mother feel special, and there are certainly lots of ways to do this, from making a simple homemade Mother’s Day card to booking a luxury day away.

Continuing the traditions of old, flowers are still a favourite way of saying thank you to your mum on Mother’s Day, and with spring bursting forth, there couldn’t be a better choice. Or you may choose to bake a special cake for Mother’s Day. The gently spiced Simnel cake we now associate with Easter was originally a Mother’s Day cake, but you could bake any cake you know your mum loves.

or many of us, Mother’s Day is the perfect time to shower our mums with special Mother’s Day presents, whether a lovely piece of jewellery, a sentimental cushion or mug, a treasured ornament or a pretty frame with a much-loved photograph in it.

Mother’s Day Pampering

But Mother’s Day isn’t just about giving Mother’s Day presents, it’s about giving love and time, too.

Why not give your mum the best start to her day by bringing her breakfast in bed, maybe setting the tray with a special Mother’s Day mug, and getting her favourite paper or magazine to read?

Give your mum a day off from the kitchen and reward her for all the food she has cooked you over the years by making her a special Mother’s Day meal, surrounded by the ones she loves.

Another great Mother’s Day gift is to give your mum one of the many pampering days on offer – a trip to a luxury spa or health club, with lots of yummy treatments and massages thrown in.

Mother’s Day Activities

Mother’s Day is definitely a day to spend time with your mum and your family, so one of the best ways to celebrate it is by doing something you all love together. This may be an indulgent shopping trip, followed by lunch at a favourite restaurant, a visit to an art gallery or museum or a long, bracing walk in the woods or along the beach; or it may be something more adventurous like sailing in the Solent, climbing the peaks of the Lake District or even abseiling down a rock face.

These are just a few of the ways to treat your mum on Mother’s Day, but why not let us know some of your great Mother’s Day ideas? Or maybe you know of an age-old Mother’s Day custom we would all like to hear about?

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Jewellery Fashions Through the Times

Art Deco Jewellery at Past Times

The History of Jewellery Fashions

Way before man could write, shells, bones and teeth were crafted into jewellery. The oldest findings are of shell beads in Israel believed to be from 100,000 years ago.

By the time of the Ancient Egyptians, jewellery-making was by comparison considerably refined. Tutankhamun’s tomb dating from the 14th century BC revealed a wealth of jewel-studded gold, including ornate collars and pectorals featuring a prized Egyptian motif, the scarab beetle.

Thousands of years later, in the 1920s, these Ancient Egyptian designs would re-emerge in the fabulously decorative creations of Art Deco jewellery.

In the ‘40s and ‘50s, costume jewellery, emulating the bejewelled pieces worn by the Hollywood stars, became the vogue. Post-war austerity gradually gave way to the frivolous sixties, with Mary Quant and Biba bringing affordable fashion to the high street, accessorised by the striking, chunky retro jewellery that is once again popular today.

Celtic Jewellery

From the 5th century in Britain the Celts flourished as master craftsmen, producing their distinctive and highly symbolic jewellery right up to the 12th century. A celebration of nature and life, Celtic jewellery incorporated the beautifully simple Celtic cross and intricately woven knots, symbols of everlasting life.

Victorian Jewellery

During Victoria’s 64-year reign the Queen had a massive influence on Victorian jewellery. The early years, when she was madly in love with the young Prince Albert, were filled with romance. Favourite motifs were hearts, bows and flowers, often accompanied by words of love. But dark days were to follow, and when Albert died in 1861 Victoria threw the country into a prolonged period of mourning. Jet and black enamel and lockets filled with a deceased’s hair all became popular. Victoria’s daughter-in-law, Princess Alexandra, gradually put the spirit back into England, and by the 1880s Victorian jewellery had become light and fresh, incorporating magical and often whimsical motifs.

Art Nouveau Jewellery

In Paris at the turn of the century, the swirling, naturalistic designs of Art Nouveau jewellery emerged. Key motifs included ethereal maidens, peacock feathers, dragonflies, butterflies and flowers. Plique-à-jour enameling enabled designers to capture the fantastic iridescence they admired all around them in nature.

What’s so fantastic about jewellery is its timeless appeal. Designs and motifs from tens and even thousands of years ago are replicated in modern jewellery to create striking pieces we all love to wear today. And original vintage jewellery is still a continuing vogue. At Past Times we all have our favourites – rings, brooches and necklaces inspired by some of the best designs of the past. Why not delve into your grandmother’s jewellery collection, pull out a family heirloom, or visit your local museum to see what you would like to wear today? We would love to hear about your favourite pieces, new or old, so why not send us a comment?

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Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is on March 14th in the UK, so put it your diaries! We’ve got some great ideas for gifts for every type of mum but this year Victoriana seems to be the big trend. With this in mind, we’ve seen our Victorian range grow enormously this season with our best selling cushion range, including the ‘Love’ cushion to our new leather accessories with bow detailing and from our delicate floral compact mirrors to our new butterfly & ladybird home accessories.

Our mirrored range of bedroom products continues its popularity with old favourites such as the large jewellery armoire and table dressing mirror to newer introductions such as the butterfly wall hook and the mannequin jewellery stand.

But no Mother’s Day would be complete without breakfast in bed followed by a lazy Sunday morning and then being taken out to lunch. So what better way to treat your mum than with a beautiful crisp cotton dressing gown delicately detailed with traditional English roses for her to enjoy her morning in.

Check out our website for more Mother’s Day gift ideas.

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