How To Date Your Fred Bear Bow
Since we have the opportunity to sell a lot of different items through our eBay Drop Off Store, certain 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 antique store like we usually do and saw this recurve bow in the corner. Since we were already somewhat familiar with how well bows have sold from selling them for a client we naturally gravitated 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 ultimately got all of it for $75.00.
Based on the dating procedures listed below we determined that this was a Fred Bear Kodiak Recurve bow from 1965 in excellent condition. It was a 60″ bow with a 44# pull.
After we got the bow to our store we noticed that inside the big quiver was a smaller single quiver. Based on a light embossed marking on this smaller, leather quiver that we pulled out we were able to date it to the late 1940’s.
We decided to break this up into 3 different auctions and started all three at $9.99. The results of the auctions are listed at the end of this article.
DATING YOUR FRED BEAR BOW
There are several features and changes that were made to the bear bows over the years that will help narrow the age of your bow or your potential investment.
1. The Serial Number: These bows usually have, what appears to be a hand inscription on one of the limbs that gives a serial number along with the length and pull 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, a serial number of 5L212 would be a 1965 Bow.
Prior to 1965, the 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 KZ9672) were started in 1970.
2. Patent Mark: Most of the BEAR Bows we have sold have the startup logo and the US Patents printed on it along with the date of CANADA 1953. This date that is printed on all bows made between 1953 and 1972 is simply the date of the patent for a working recurve limb and has nothing to do with the actual model year.
3. Decals & Silkscreening: In 1948 the small Running Bear decal was first and then was replaced by the large Standing Bear decal in mid-1953. The large Standing Bear decal also has the words “Glass Powered Bow” under the Standing Bear.
The large Standing Bear decal was used until 1955 when it was replaced with silk-screening the identification on the bows. By 1956 the silk-screening appeared on all bows.
4. All Wood vs Laminate: If your bow is ALL wood (no laminations of any kind) then your bow had to be made before the mass productions beginning in 1949.
- If the ALL wood bow has a stamp that reads “Bear Products” in some form it would have been made before the early to mid 40’s.
- If it is stamped “Bear Archery” it would have been made AFTER the early-mid 40’s and BEFORE 1949.
- Also wooden bows with a small “Running Bear” decal can be dated to 1948
5. The Leather Grip: ALL Bear bows had leather grips until 1959. In 1959, the Kodiak Special removed the leather grip and in 1961 the Kodiak did the same, as well as the Grizzly in 1964.
6. The Coin Medallion: Beginning in 1959 all Bear bows had a coin medallion of one type of metal or another. Below are the approx date ranges for the type of coin 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 was raised above the surface of the bow and came in both gold and chrome covered plastic and are still used in Bear bows today.
7. Manufacturer Location: in 1978 Bear moved all manufacturing and offices to Gainesville, Florida. If your bow shows Gainesville on it then it was made after 1978
8. Model Of The Bow: Check the Model of the bow. Below is a yearly production chart for the most popular Bear Bows.
Wood Handle Take-Down 1969-1972
Wood C-Riser Victor Custom 1973-1975
Magnesium Handle Take-Down A-B-C 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
Black Bear 1972-1978
Little Bear 1965-1978
With this information you should be able to get really close to dating your Bear Bow if not pin-pointing it to the year.
If you are looking to price your bow I would suggest first logging into your eBay account and do a Completed Auction Search on the general keywords that match your bow, i.e. Bear Grizzly Recurve and see what has sold in the past 30 days.
Our eBay Results: Within 6 hours of listing our 1965 Bear Bow by itself starting at $9.99 it had already reached $152.50 which was exciting but based on our research not surprising. What was surprising was that it stayed at $152.50 for the next 6 days. On the last day with 8 minutes left it was up to $182.50 with over 40 watchers. Usually on these types of auctions we tend to refresh and refresh and refresh the auction all the way to the end to watch the bidding but we got busy writing more listings and forgot. When we did remember to go back and check the auction it was over and had ended at $282.55
The other 2 auctions for the quivers and arrows sold for a total of $80.00. So our initial $75.00 Investment at an antique store ended in $362.55 in sales. That was almost a $300.00 profit (minus gas and eBay fees of course).