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Ever Wonder What Mohair Really Is?
All About Your Teddy Bear's Mohair

All About Your Collectible Teddy Bear’s Mohair, An Overview by Beacon’s Glow Collectibles

Did you know that your teddy bear’s mohair coat comes from the luxuriant fleece of the Angora mohair goat? And did you know that their fleece is shorn from their coat similar to that of sheep?

Angora goats took their name from the ancient Turkish city of Ankara, which was very close to where they originated. The Turks thought so highly of these special goats that none left the country until the sixteenth century. The first exports landed in Spain and France, but Angoras didn't reach American shores until 1849. The most valuable characteristic of the Angora, as compared to other goats is the value of the mohair that is clipped. The average goat in the U.S. shears approximately 5.3 pounds of mohair per shearing and are usually sheared twice a year – once in the spring and once again in the early fall.

The United States has developed into one of the two largest producing nations of mohair in the world with an annual production in excess of 2.4 million pounds. This was all due to the initial importation of a small flock of seven does and two bucks in 1849. The other two principal sources of mohair are South Africa and Turkey. Texas, with a herd of 220,000 goats is the primary mohair region of the United States. The main region is on Edwards Plateau in Southwest Texas, where the mild dry climate and hilly, brushy terrain are particularly well suited for raising Angora goats due to their dry mountain origin. It is a well-known fact that Angora goats produce the best mohair in hot areas with low rainfall, which explains why Texas is well-suited for raising Angora goats.

Mohair fleece (also known as "Diamond Fiber") has always been the superior fabric for making teddy bears. There are many reasons for this: 1) mohair has an incredible luster to it, and dyed mohair resists fading caused by time and the elements and is very hard wearing; 2) mohair is almost non-flammable; 3) mohair is considered the most durable animal fiber; 4) the natural fibers from mohair have the ability to absorb and release atmospheric moisture; 5) mohair is characteristically resistant to soiling; and 6) mohair possesses great tensile strength. Diameter to diameter it is stronger than steel!

Although mohair wool accepts dye exceptionally well, mohair in its natural state has lots of shades that are beautiful. It can be dyed into bright saturated colors and can easily be washed. Mohair products don't felt or shrink like those items that were made out of other wools because it is composed of mostly a protein called keratin.

There is an endless number of colors, lengths, densities and finishes. Mohair can be styled to fit every request, be it curly, dense, swirled, distressed, sparse, straight, antique, matted, or plain.

Additionally, there are several different thicknesses of mohair which determines its physical appearance - slightly curly/almost straight to very curly, and everything in between. Age, health, diet and the weather before clipping the goat all plays into the final characteristics of each individual's goats mohair. Furthermore, the mohair is graded by the thickness of the fiber (which is measured in microns). These five categories are identified as follows:

1. Super fine kid, under 23 micron

2. Kid lines, 23-27 micron

3. Strong kid lines, 27-29.5 micron

4. Young goat, 29.5-32 micron

5. Adult goat, 32-36 micron

For more than 100 years, Schulte mohair of Germany, has been the industry standard for high quality mohair. In fact, they have supplied Steiff their mohair since 1901. In 2009 Schulte Mohair became Steiff Schulte after Steiff acquired the company.

Several well-known collectible teddy bear manufacturers that specialize in the creation and production of mohair bears are Charlie Bears, Steiff, Clemens Bears, and Kaycee Bears.

For centuries, mohair has symbolized style and grace worldwide, and it is no wonder that nothing takes the place of mohair when quality is paramount. Collectible teddy bears made of mohair certainly earn their place as true heirloom items to be treasured by every generation.

- Written by Brenda Mize, Owner, Beacon's Glow Collectibles