Since we have the chance to sell a lot of dissimilar items through our Drop Off Store, positive things start to stick out that seem to sell extremely well. One item that sticks out are the vintage Bear Recurve Bows. Recently on an out of town trip we stopped by an old store like we ordinarily do and saw this recurve bow in the corner. Since we were already somewhat well-known with how well bows have sold from selling them for a client we naturally gravitated to it. It looked to be in perfect condition and came with a quiver and 3 dissimilar sets of arrows. The asking price was 0. Based on the dating procedures listed below we determined that this was a Fred Bear Kodiak Recurve bow from in perfect condition.
Serial numbers were placed on the limbs of most Bear bows, along with the weight and length of the bow.
Jul 12, Starting at the end of , a raised medallion of gold and chrome was used in all Bear bows and is still used today. Date your Bear bow by serial number if it was made between and Serial numbers were placed on the limbs of most Bear bows, along with the weight and length of the bow. The first number stood for the year of manufacturing. Oct 25, 1. The Serial Number: These bows ordinarily have, what appears to be a hand inscription on one of the limbs that gives a serial amount along with the distance and pull weight of the bow. This serial amount works very well for dating Bear Bows from when the first digit of the serial amount is the year of manufacture. According to research done by Al Reader of New Jersey, who by the way is considered by most to be the most knowledgeable Bear collector alive, serial numbers work very well for dating Bear bows, but only for the years when the first digit of the serial number is the year of manufacture.
The first number stood for the year of manufacturing. So, a "5" at the beginning meant it was made ina "6" was made ina "7" inan "8" in and "9" at the beginning meant it was made in Search for any type of decal on the bow. A small running bear decal was placed on bows from to around Then, a large standing bear with "Glass Powered Bow" written under it was placed on bows from to Visit the Bear Archery website to date newer model bows.
Bows made in the last few years will have the model name on them. The Bear Archery website has a list of every model released in recent years and what year it was launched.
Dating vintage bear bows
By: Amy Sutton. Published: 12 July, More Articles. Home Recreation Archery. But whatever the model,and whatever the wood or backing, the quality of the craftsmanship was simply unparalleled. Of the bows which I have seen over the years, the only bowyer who I would put in the same class as Grumley would be James D.
Easton of California. The Grumley bow on the left is a Bush Bow, while the bow on the right is the Deerslayer model. Notice the different length of the brush nocks. Beginning inBear Archery moved into a new plant in Grayling, Michigan. Bow sales were now beginning to soar as new archers and bowhunters entered the sport in record numbers due in large part to the successful promotions of Fred Bear. Fred realized that he could not meet the demand which would come from these new recruits by making bows one at a time like Bear had been doing since it's inception almost 15 years earlier.
So he came up with a new method of mass producing bows, finally allowing his company to meet this demand. But Nels Grumley would not accept that quality bows could be made by any other manner than one-at-a-time, so Nels left the company to go out on his own. Upon Nels departure, Fred moved another employee by the name of Bob Meeker over to supervise the manufacturing of the new bow lines.
Even though bows were then largely the result of machine work, Bob came to be considered a fine bowyer in his own right. The Polar and Kodiak were introduced in the following year, These bows ofand early can be recognized by the lamination of aluminum in the limbs. The aluminum lamination on the Kodiak and Grizzly is found only in the inner lamination, surrounded by layers of maple and glass.
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However, on the Polar, the aluminum is found both under a layer of maple and glass, and on the outside lamination. In and Bear was using a bi-directional glass on their bows which looks somewhat like a basket weave pattern.
Then in Bear began using a new Uni-Directional glass in which the glass fibers all ran lengthwise to the bow limbs.
The Grizzly also began production with the aluminum lamination, but very early in the aluminum was dropped due to the high reported breakage problems of these aluminum bows. The Kodiak was introduced in with the bi-directional glass and the aluminum lamination. Then in earlyjust as with the Grizzly, the new uni-directional glass was introduced but the aluminum lamination was still present.
From this dating vintage bear bows agree
This glass change apparently occurred around serial number Then in mid, the aluminum lamination was dropped. So for you will find Kodiaks with aluminum and bi-directional glass, aluminum with uni-directional glass, and no-aluminum with uni-directional glass. This aluminum laminated caused two problems. First, the bows had quite a bit of handshock when shot, and as a result were not comfortable to shoot.
Secondly, the large amount of shock contributed to a large number of bows delaminating. This warranty problem caused a substantial strain on the companies finances, but Fred insisted that all bows be replaced if returned broken. Another popular bow for collectors of Grayling manufactured bows is the Kodiak II of Also known as the Compass Kodiak because of the small, round compass embedded into the riser section, this bow was another good idea which almost caused the company to go under.
The compass required a significant amount of wood to be removed from the riser in order to be inlaid, and as a result caused the riser sections on many of these bows to fail. Again, Fred insisted that the warranty on these bows be honored and all returns were replaced with another bow. If the riser section of your K-II is very dark, then you have a walnut model. Conversely, if the riser of your K-II is a light colored wood, then you have a maple model.
The walnut bows were made only for the first months ofbefore being replaced by maple in mid-year. There were also many different lengths available in each of the different kinds of wood.
The structural strength of this design was the main reason for it's discontinuance, and many years later the bows that survive are too valuable as collectors items to risk breaking another. Finally, in August the famous Bear Take-Down recurve went into production. Note - Although introduced in Augustthe Take Down model bow did not appear in the Bear catalogs until This new model bow was manufactured in 3 different riser lengths, which were known as the "A", "B", and "C" risers.
The "A" riser was the shortest, and the "C" the longest, with the "B" being in the middle. In this manner, the archer could mix and match riser styles with various length limbs to allow the bowhunter to pick the bow which best fit his or her desires. Note - Although officially discontinued inseveral parts for these bows remained on the shelves at Bear, and a few "A" and "B" models were assembled in and These later assemblies can be recognized by their white serial numbers.
How many Bear Take-Downs were actually made? In the three years of production, there were "A" models made, "B" models made, and only "C" models. Then why is the "C" the least valuable of the lot even though it is actually the rarest of the Take-Downs?
Apparently this is because it is thought of as a target bow rather than a hunting bow by collectors. Some collectors place significance on the year of the manufacture of the take-down relative to the value of the bow.
Actually, more than year, the collector should be referring to Type. Note - The serial numbers of all the Take-Downs begin with a letter which designates the riser style. For example, and "A" handle will have a serial number which begins with an "A", a "B" handle will have a serial number which begins with a "B", etc. Note - An option from the factory on the Bear Take-Down was the Bear Premier Hunting sight, only listed in the catalog for the "B" handles, and for the second and third years of production.
This sight was factory installed in the sight window of the bow. The Bear Take-Down could be ordered in one of three different limb lengths. Matching these various limbs with the different risers allowed the buyer to choose a bow length all the way from 56" to 70".
These limbs can be found with both a white overlay in the limb tip, and with a red overlay. The white overlays were made before the change to the red overlays. A very common question from beginning Bear bow collectors is how to determine the age of a bow. There are many features and changes applied by Bear over the years which will help you in determining your bows model year.
Note - A great deal of the credit for the following information is due to Mr. Al has studied Bear Archery for many, many years and is considered by everyone as the King of Information regarding Bear Archery collecting.
First, if your bow is all wood, meaning that there is no laminations of any kind, then your bow had to be made before the mass production beginning in If your all wood bow has a stamp which says "Bear Products" in some form, then it had to be before the early-mid forties. If your all-wood bow says "Bear Archery", then it had to be manufactured after the early-mid forties and before Wooden bows with a small "Running Bear" decal can be dated to Another way is to look for a leather grip.
Inthe Kodiak Special dropped the leather grip, and in the Kodiak followed suit. The Grizzly kept the leather grip until Yet another way to help determine the age of your bow is to look for a coin type medallion in the riser. Beginning inall Bear bows had a coin medallion of one type or another. The coin was copper inthen changed to Aluminum inand Pewter in Brass coins were used inand nickel-silver in The coins were all flush with the wood until Then in late it was raised above the surface of the bow.
These raised medallions came in both gold and chrome covered plastic and are still used in todays Bear bows. Note - Using the medallions for dating bows is not an absolute rule with Bear bows, as sometimes the plant would just throw medallions in a bin and the bow maker would reach in and grab medallions which may have been from a year or two earlier. Ina strike at the Bear plant in Grayling, MI forced a move of all manufacturing and offices to Gainesville, Florida. If your bow says Gainesville on it, then you know that it was made after this move.
All Bear bows from until have the " Canadian Patent" date on them. This patent covered the working recurve limb. This is the date of the patent only, and does nothing to date the bow itself. The Patent date which appears on all Bear bows from until is simply the date of the patent for a working recurve limb and has nothing to do with the actual model year.
The small Running Bear decal was first used inand was replaced by the large Standing Bear decal in mid The large Standing Bear decal was used until when it was replaced with the improved methods of silk-screening the identification on the bows. The silk-screening appeared on all bows by the model year.
The small Running Bear decal on the left was used by Bear from untilwith the larger Standing Bear decal replacing it in mid and lasting until the model years.
Beginning in Bear began using the silk-screened logo shown on the far right. According to research done by Al Reader of New Jersey, who by the way is considered by most to be the most knowledgeable Bear collector alive, serial numbers work very well for dating Bear bows, but only for the years when the first digit of the serial number is the year of manufacture.
For example, a serial number of 6Z would be a bow.
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Prior tothe serial numbers for all Bear bows were started over every month, making these bows almost impossible to date by serial number alone. The "K" series of serial numbers for example KZ were started in Even looking at the catalogs is not a sure way of dating a Bear bow, as sometimes the pictures were used for more than one year, even though there might have been changes in the woods used, or the colors available. Remember also that Bear had to take the next yearns catalog to the printer in late fall of the prior year.
These bows should not be used! 3. Every model Bear bow made from to mid have the Canadian patent for the working recurve design on the lower limb. This is a patent date only, not the year of the bow! Also all model Bear Bows have leather wrapped grips from the late 's up to Our lineup features ultra-competitive bows that up the ante on performance and can't be found anywhere else. A Bear for Everyone Shop Compound, Traditional, and Crossbows. Learn More. Our lineup features ultra-competitive bows that up the . Vintage and Antique Bows Shop here for great deals on hard-to-find vintage bows from Fred Bear, Ben Pearson, and other early model wood, fiberglass and composite recurve bows.
This means that bows for that catalog or model year had to be available to take pictures of in the fall before the catalog was printed. For this reason, you will find bows of a particular year with features of the previous year.
A good example would be the few known examples of the Kodiak II Compass Kodiaks with the small "Running Bear" decal which was actually discontinued in late Another example would be the few known Kodiaks which don't have a coin medallion which were supposed to be on all Kodiaks beginning in model year Obviously these bows were made in late before the medallions became available to the factory.
Sometimes showing the bow to a knowledgeable collector is the only sure way to get an accurate date of manufacture. If there were some way to measure the most successful broadhead of all time, I would put my money on the Bear Razorhead, with the Zwickey a very close second. Fred Bear was always the inventor, the tinkerer. But these were very tedious to make and to attach correctly to the arrow.
And certainly there was no way to mass-market such a head to the public. Fred was very good at recognizing a market need, and soon started slotting Zwickey broadheads and adding removable bleeder blades in an attempt to discover a better broadhead which could be mass produced and marketed to the growing ranks of bowhunters of the day. The bleeders which were used in these slotted Zwickeys were very large compared to the bleeders that we see in todays broadheads, but the idea worked and encouraged Fred to continue with his experiments.
There were at least 2 different styles of "Airplane-Wing" bleeders used in the slotted Zwickeys of the days prior to the Razorhead. In Fred began tinkering with a glue-on ferrule design for broadheads. These first heads were one of a kinds, but he was nearing completion of a design that would be both good for hunting and mass marketing.
ByFred was confident enough of his design that he made prototypes of a new "Razorhead" design broadhead, and sent out samples to many of his bowhunting colleagues across the country asking them to try out this new head.
If reports were positive, he planned to begin mass-production of them within the next year for the general public. This prototype model Razorhead became known as the "Pinned Bear" due to the appearance of a "Pin-like" depression at the end of the ferrule. Actually, this was not a true pin, but rather a punch impression which held the blade to the ferrule better. Of the prototypes which were originally made, only a very few survived to be in collections today.
Note: Be on the lookout for these pinned models, and if you find one you have found a gold-mine as broadheads go. Here is a picture of the various styles of Razorheads over the years.
Restoring a 36 year old bow (Part 1 of 2)
From left, the Pinned Ferrule, the Bubble-Head, the The photo on the right is anotherthethe Notice the difference in the ferrule ends, and the vents among the different years. InBear Archery formally introduced the Razorhead to the public. Known today as the "Bubble-Head" by many collectors because of the rounded ferrule tip, this broadhead was an instant success.
Good quality steel, easily sharpened and aligned to the arrow, the Razorhead was on it's way to becoming the largest selling broadhead of all time. But Fred found a small problem with this original design. The "Bubble" on the tip of the ferrule was affecting penetration.
Sorry, that dating vintage bear bows thanks
So inBear began flattening the ferrule tip to improve this situation. However, the vents on the Razorhead remained large as with the original model.
Ina new die was made, with the vents made smaller and the ferrule tip even flatter. Lastly, inthe vents were changed again, looking much like a die-cut parabolic feather shape now. The Super Razorhead was introduced inand the era of the old lime-green Razorhead came to a close. However, these new Super Razorheads did not have a reputation for holding up under use and lost favor with the masses of bowhunters in time.
Finally, inthe Stainless steel version of the Razorhead came out, but it is the old lime-green Razorheads that remain popular with bowhunters today both as collectors, and as shooters. The auxiliary bleeder blade on the pinned ferrule Razorheads had the impression of a bear head in the vents, complete with ears and all as seen in this picture.
The bleeder on the first production Razorhead in had the small pin hole in it, as shown.
We're proud to continue what Mr. Bear started more than 85 years ago when he made is first traditional bow. His spirit, vision, and craftsmanship have stood the test of time. Fred Bear Tigercat Recurve Bow 50# 58 Inch Long R.H. With Bear Case! Excellent Up for auction is one Vintage Fred Bear Tigercat Recurve Bow 50# 58 Inch Long R.H. This Right handed bow Serial number is KN This vintage bow was made by the Bear Archery Company in Grayling Michigan in late 's early 's. The bow is straight. This serial number works very well for dating Bear Bows from when the first digit of the serial number is the year of manufacture. For example, a serial number of 5L would be a Bow. Prior to , the serial numbers for all Bear bows were started over every month, making these bows almost impossible to date by serial number alone.
The bleeders soon changed to look like the bleeder on the right for all production after that. Be on the look out for these different bleeder blades!!