Discover How These Hand-Carved Wooden Collectibles Became Famous

The History of the Raikes Company Wood Carvings

Raikes bear
Image courtesy addoway.com

A California native, Robert Raikes called many places around the U.S. country his home, and can even add England to his list of residences during his growing up years. Add a military tour and travel in Southeast Asia and you have a well-rounded, interesting person who brings a whole new perspective to his life and chosen career. Raikes has carved for years, starting in junior high and carving while he served in the Navy. After winning an award as a novice, he decided to turn his carving hobby into a full-on profession. Discover the early pieces of the Raikes Company, along with his licensing of the unique bears and how the family runs production today.

Early Wooden Sculptures

The first early pieces were a variety of wooden sculptures that Raikes created and carved, including everything from furniture to carousel horses. It was in the mid-70s that Robert first started to find out what his niche was when he was asked to produce dolls. The hand-carved wooden dolls with cloth bodies, filled with sawdust, found a ready market.

In the early 1980's when bears were becoming very popular, Raikes decided to use his wood carving talents and make a very different type of bear. His bears were mohair, like the other artist bears, but had the added feature of a hand-carved, wooden face. The wooden face brings a whole different perspective to the look and expression of a bear. He worked and sold the bears for a few years, then finally approached Applause about licensing the unique bears. In 1985, Raikes entered the bear market in a big way with the Applause company. This alliance existed until the early 1990's when he took back control of his den of bears with the commitment of keeping the quality high and the edition numbers low.

The Raikes Company Today

Today, the company is run by the Raikes Family. The Raikes daughter, Jennifer, is currently the production manager and Emily is in sales. Robert Raikes son, Jason, helps with the design work while the son-in-law, Ryan, manages the office duties. Three seamstresses round out the company by helping produce the designs and samples.

First, the bears are hand carved and designed by Robert. Following this, samples are then sent to China to be hand carved and produced. The bears are all hand carved in China in a variety of small grained woods, although maple is the most commonly used material. During production, the faces are stained, painted, lacquered and then sewn out of mohair.

Raikes Bears are sold in gift shops, teddy bear shops, specialty stores, online and also through the QVC store. These collectibles may be used as gifts for both children, adults and professional collectors alike.

Note: It appears that the Raikes Company has either gone out of business or is no longer active at this time.