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How To Date Your Fred Bear Bow
Since we have the opportunity to sell many different items through our eBay Drop Off Store, we are starting to highlight a few things that seem to be selling very well. One of the elements that stand out are the vintage BEAR recurve bows.
On a recent trip out of town, we stopped by an antique store as we usually do and saw this recurve bow in the corner. Since we were already somewhat familiar with how well bows have sold when selling them for a client, we naturally gravitated towards them. It appeared to be in excellent condition and came with a quiver and 3 different sets of arrows. The asking price was $100.00 and we ended up getting everything for $75.00.
Based on the dating procedures listed below, we determined this to be a 1965 Fred Bear Kodiak Recurve Bow in excellent condition. It was a 60″ bow with a 44# draw.
After getting the bow in our shop, we noticed that inside the large quiver was a single smaller quiver. Based on a light embossed mark on this smaller leather quiver we removed, we were able to date it to the late 1940s.
We decided to split it into 3 different auctions and started them at $9.99. Auction results are shown at the end of this article.
DATE YOUR COLD BEAR BOW
There are several features and changes made to bear bows over the years that will help reduce the age of your bow or your potential investment.
1. The serial number: These bows usually have what appears to be a handwritten inscription on one of the limbs that gives a serial number along with the length and draw weight of the bow. This serial number works great for dating Bear Bows between 1965 and 1969, when the first digit of the serial number is the year of manufacture.
For example, a serial number of 5L212 would be a 1965 Bow.
Prior to 1965, the serial numbers of all Bear bows were started on a monthly basis, making these bows nearly impossible to date by serial number alone. The “K” series of serial numbers (eg KZ9672) was started in 1970.
2.Patent Marking: Most of the BEAR ties we have sold have the US patent and logo printed along with the date CANADA 1953. This date printed on all ties made between 1953 and 1972 is simply the date of the patent for a curved limb that works and has nothing to do with the actual model year.
3. Stickers and screen printing: In 1948, it was first the small running bear sticker and then replaced by the large standing bear sticker in mid-1953. The large Standing Bear sticker also has the words “Glass Powered Bow” below Standing Bear.
The large Standing Bear decal was used until 1955 when it was replaced by screen printing the bows identification. In 1956 screen printing appeared on all arches.
4. All Wood vs Laminate: If your bow is ALL wood (no laminates of any kind), then your bow had to be made before mass productions started in 1949.
- If the TOT wood bow has a stamp that says “Bear Products” in any way, it would have been made before the early to mid 40’s.
- If stamped “Bear Archery” it would have been made AFTER the early to mid 40’s and BEFORE 1949.
- Also the wooden bows with a small sticker “Running Bear” can be dated to 1948
5. The Leather Grip: ALL Bearbows had leather grips until 1959. In 1959 the Kodiak Special did away with the leather grip and in 1961 the Kodiak did the same, as did the Grizzly in 1964.
6. The Coin Medallion: Beginning in 1959 all bearbows had a coin medallion of one type of metal or another. Below are approximate date ranges for the type of currency used.
Copper coin – 1959
Aluminum – 1960-1961
Pewter – 1962
Brass – 1963 – 1970
Nickel-silver – 1971-1972
ALL coins were flush with the wood until 1972. In late 1972 the coin rose above the surface of the arch and came in plastic covered in both gold and chrome and is still they use in bear bows.
7. Manufacturer Location: In 1978 Bear moved all manufacturing and offices to Gainesville, Florida. If your arch shows Gainesville, it was made after 1978
8. Bow model: Check the bow model. Below is an annual production chart of the most popular Bear Bows.
Removal of the wooden handle 1969-1972
Wood C-Riser Victor Custom 1973-1975
ABC magnesium handle throw 1971-1978
Kodiak Static Recurve 1950-1953
Kodiak Recurve 1954-1966
Super Kodiak 1967-1976
Grizzly Static Recurve 1949-1957
Grizzly Recurve 1958-1978
Super Magnum 48 1966-1976
Kodiak Magnum 52″ 1961-1977
Kodiak Hunter 58″ and 60″ 1967-1977
Tamerlà HC-30 1965-1967
Tamerlà HC-300 1968-1972
1955-1967 Kodiak Special
Victor Patriot 1973-1977
Polar (curved) 1957-1970
Alaskan (semi-curved leather grip) 1959-1961
Alaskan (Resource) 1966-1970
Black Bear 1972-1978
With this information, you should be able to get very close to dating your Bear Bow if you don’t target it for the year.
If you want to price your bow I would suggest first logging into your eBay account and doing a completed auction search on the general keywords that match your bow ie Bear Grizzly Recurve and see what sold in the last 30 days.
Our eBay Results: Within 6 hours of listing our 1965 Bear Bow from $9.99 it had already reached $152.50 which was exciting but according to our research did not surprise. What was surprising was that it stayed at $152.50 for the next 6 days. On the last day with 8 minutes left it went up to $182.50 with more than 40 observers. Normally in these types of auctions we tend to refresh and refresh and refresh the auction until the end to see the bids, but we got busy writing more listings and forgot. When we remembered to go back and check the auction, it was over and ended at $282.55
The other 2 auctions for the quivers and arrows sold for a total of $80.00. So our initial investment of $75.00 in an antique shop ended up in sales of $362.55. That was almost a $300.00 profit (minus gas and eBay expenses of course).
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