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How To Date Your Fred Bear Bow
Since we have the ability to sell many different items through our eBay Drop Off Store, certain things are starting to emerge that seem to sell extremely well. One of the standouts is the vintage BEAR Recurve Bows.
On a recent trip out of town, we stopped by an antique shop as usual and saw this bow in the corner. Since we already knew somewhat how well the bows sold from selling them to a customer, we were naturally drawn to it. It looked 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 it all for $75.00.
Based on the dating procedures listed below, we have determined that this is a 1965 Fred Bear Kodiak Recurve bow in excellent condition. It was a 60″ bow with a 44# draw.
After we got the bow to our store, we noticed that inside the large quiver was a smaller quiver. We could date it to the end of the 1940s based on the light embossed markings on the small leather quiver we pulled out.
We decided to split this into 3 different auctions and started all three auctions at $9.99. The results of the auctions can be found at the end of the article.
HUNDRING THE FRED BEAR BOW
There are many features and changes made to bear bows over the years that reduce the age of the bow or the potential investment.
1. The serial number: These bows usually have a hand lettering on one limb that gives the serial number along with the length and draw weight of the bow. This serial number works very well for dating Bear Bows from 1965-1969 when the first digit of the serial number is the year of manufacture.
For example, serial number 5L212 would be a 1965 bow.
Prior to 1965, all Bear bows were serialized every month, so dating these bows by serial number alone was nearly impossible. “K” serial numbers (such as KZ9672) started in 1970.
2. Patent mark: Most of the BEAR bows we sell have the logo and US patents printed on them, along with the date CANADA 1953. This date, printed on all bows made between 1953 and 1972, is simply the patent for a working recurve limb and has nothing to do with the actual model year.
3. Stickers and screen printing: In 1948, the small Running Bear sticker was first placed, then in the middle of 1953 it was replaced by the large Standing Bear sticker. The large Standing Bear sticker also has the inscription “Glass Driven Bow” below the Standing Bear.
The large Standing Bear decal was used until 1955, when it was replaced by screen printing the identifications on the bows. By 1956, screen printing appeared on all bows.
4. All Wood vs. Laminate: If the bow is ALL wood (no laminates whatsoever), then the bow must have been made before mass production began in 1949.
- If the ALL wood bow has “Bear Products” written on it in some form, it would have been made before the early to mid 40’s.
- If it was stamped “Bear Archery” it would have been made AFTER the early to mid 40’s and BEFORE 1949.
- The wooden bows with the small “Rufódve” sticker can also be dated to 1948
5. The leather grip: Until 1959, ALL Bear bows had leather grips. In 1959, the Kodiak Special removed the leather grips, and in 1961, the Kodiak did the same, as well as the Grizzly in 1964.
6. The Coin Pendant: Starting in 1959, every Bear bow had a coin pendant of some metal. Below are approximate date ranges for the coin type used.
Copper coin – 1959
Aluminum – 1960-1961
Tin – 1962
Brass – 1963-1970
Nickel-silver – 1971-1972
ALL coins were level with the tree until 1972. In late 1972, the coin was raised above the surface of the bow and made of gold and chrome plastic, and is still used in bear bows today.
7. Location of Manufacturer: In 1978, Bear moved all manufacturing and offices to Gainesville, Florida. If Gainesville is shown on the bow, it was made after 1978
8. Model of the bow: Check the model of the bow. Below is a yearly production chart of the most popular Bear Bows.
Collection with wooden handle 1969-1972
Wood C-Riser Victor Custom 1973-1975
Magnesium Handle Take-Down ABC 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
Tamerlane HC-30 1965-1967
Tamerlane HC-300 1968-1972
Kodiak Special 1955-1967
Victor Patriot 1973-1977
Polar (recurve) 1957-1970
Alaskan (leather grip semi-recurve) 1959-1961
Alaskan (recurve) 1966-1970
Tiger Cat 1964-1978
Black Bear 1972-1978
Little Bear 1965-1978
With this information, you can get close to dating Medveí, if you don’t point to the year.
If you’re looking to price your bow, I suggest you first log into your eBay account and do an auction search for general keywords that match your bow, e.g. Bear Grizzly Recurve and see what has sold in the last 30 days.
Our eBay results: Within 6 hours of listing this 1965 Bear Bow, it went from $9.99 to $152.50, which was exciting, but not surprising based on our research. It was amazing to have $152.50 left over the next 6 days. On the last day, with 8 minutes left, it was $182.50 with over 40 viewers. Usually in these types of auctions we tend to update, update and update the auction until the end to watch the bidding, 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 quiver and arrow auctions sold for a total of $80.00. So our initial investment of $75.00 in an antique shop ended up with $362.55 in sales. That was almost a $300 profit (minus gas and eBay fees, of course).
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